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With Sails Ahead - Morning Sun Review

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We've been following With Sails Ahead for actual years now, and as one of the first bands to support The Hook, they'll always have a soft spot in our hearts. We recently watched them open up for bands like Emarosa and Jule Vera, which is our way of saying clearly our pals are going places, and it makes us so happy we could cry.

But we won't, and that's because Morning Sun, their brand new EP is out.

The NJ based five piece continues to impress us as they grow, and Morning Sun is an astonishing third addition to their discography, and their first release since June 2016's Years In Waiting. The 6-track EP is a heartfelt, passion infused open wound that With Sails Ahead lays out for listeners to witness and bare. 

Album Art: Caring Wong

Album Art: Caring Wong

Morning Sun Tracklist:
1. Dissappear
2. Willow
3. Always Clouded, Never Clear
4. Pixelated
5. Synapses Fire
6. Beesly


 

 

 

With Sails Ahead have solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with, not only in their scene, but as they come up in the world of music. We're holding on tight for the journey, and you should be too!

Morning Sun is an emotional, angst ridden EP that keeps the listener in check. I was also sincerely impressed by the togetherness the band has shown in their growth, while maintaining the reason why we loved With Sails Ahead in the first place. Morning Sun is going to be more instrumentally technical and exciting, while also showing it's bravado and spirit in lyricism and contextual content. All of the tracks are superb, but my personal favorite would be closing track, "Beesly." For myself, this track really encapsulates this coming of age for With Sails Ahead. Morning Sun is the reawakening of the passion that this post hardcore quartet brings to the table.

With the recent announcement of a summer tour, you definitely don't want to miss an update from With Sails Ahead, so check out their social media links down below to remain up on the happenings of their lives!

We know we sure will be!

With Sails Ahead: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr

Skyeline - Something About Your Basement Review

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Skyeline, the indie-alternative band from Ocean City, New Jersey, is a band I am really excited about. Their debut record, Something About Your Basement, which came out this past December, is a fantastic ambient, pop-rock album filled with lush soundscapes, alluring vocals, and clever songwriting that will envelop you entirely throughout its 51-minute run time. Comprised of lead singer, Brittany Byrne, guitarist Brandon Cruz, and bassist, Jack Rose, the power trio combines a sense of experienced professionalism with a laidback DIY feel to give them a sound, and more importantly a feeling, that is all their own.

Having formed in 2015, Skyline is inspired by the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, The Deftones, and The 1975. Interestingly enough, rather than sounding like any of these icons, Skyeline seems to have dissected these artists’ music, taken out the bits and chunks that suit their musicianship, and intuitively put them back together in a refreshingly original way. Something About Your Basement sees the band explore the alternative genre and push the boundaries of it into an almost psychedelic, jam band-esque territory, yet still retain a pop-rock songwriting style at its core. With no track on this album being less than 4 minutes, and the longest one lasting over 8 minutes, Something About Your Basement may seem like a daunting investment of time to some people, but listeners who dive head first into it will be treated to a truly impressive record.

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Something About Your Basement Review:
1. Out There
2. Without Me
3. Three Years
4. Everything
5. Someone New
6. Caught Up
7. Stay the Same 
8. Prom Song
9.
Colors

 

 

Something About Your Basement kicks off with the perfect intro track in “Out There”. From the very first note on guitar you can immediately tell the amount of passion and care that went into making this project; it simply sounds fantastic. Speaking of guitar, Cruz’s guitar work throughout the entire record is one of the highlights of the album. While he may not shred hardcore like some players, his ability to find beautifully mellow tones to compliment not only Byrne’s vocals, but also Skyeline’s dreamy sound is an achievement that cannot be understated.

Brittany Byrne, the lead singer of Skyeline is arguably the biggest draw of the band. Although it seems (at least on the recordings) that she tries to let the music take a front seat rather than her vocals, there’s no denying the instant charm and appeal of the tone of her voice. With all of her subtle inflections and the rich, yet vulnerable quality of her voice, it’s hard not to compare Byrne’s voice voice to that of Hayley Williams of Paramore. Unfortunately, Something About Your Basement has her voice buried within the songs just a tad too much, and uses it too infrequently for it to stand out in the spotlight it deserves.

Just like losing Bryne’s vocals in the mix of these songs, I found myself losing a lot of the drums as well. I was craving a punchier, and heavier drum sound to better discern the great drum work, that will probably go unnoticed, especially in the longer, more sonic songs. Additionally, some of these songs are just too long. One song in particular, “Someone New” repeats the same vocal line and chord progression over and over again for 8 minutes with very subtle variation. It’s my least favorite track on the album, and easily could have been half the time and achieved the same effect it was going for.

Something About Your Basement by Skyline, was actually recorded in a basement, but you’d be hard pressed to know that based off the quality of this record. Skyeline has created a truly special, albeit flawed, debut album. It’s a sonic journey stacked with luxuriant tones and sounds, and alluring vocals that proves that this band is on the path to greatness. That path may be a little too long during this particular outing, but it’s still an incredibly joyous time that makes me even more excited about what lies down the road.

Check out there social media to keep up with their latest news, otherwise thanks for reading!

Skyeline: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Official Site // YouTube
 

Curtis Cooper - Messy Review

Photographer:  Stavi Xinou

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

It's been almost two years since we first met Curtis Cooper in a coffee shop on the corner of 13th and Pine Street in Philadelphia, PA. Our friendship with Curtis has only gotten stronger since that first interview over hot chocolate and tea, and Curtis has grown in innumerable ways that only make us feel proud to know them.

Their latest achievement being Messy, an 11-track deluge of emotional outpouring that breaks out from Curtis' Laughing In Line in a way that remains, at it's core, everything that we already loved, but more bruised and bleeding and ready to give. Released on November 13th, Messy has been ruminating in our minds since, a daily listen on the car ride home or while writing - and we're pretty sure you'll feel the same after taking a listen.

But first, semantics.

All songs were written and arranged by Curtis Cooper, engineered by Scott Stitzer and Nick Barnes, produced by Scott Stitzer, and mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Curtis Cooper (vox, guitar, synth, drums track 11, whistle), Jack Zaferes (bass), and Scott Stitzer (drums, synth, percussion, mad scientist) put together Cooper's ideas to create Messy & with all of that tandem effort, you have an impressionable, inescapable album to get lost in.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Art: Erik Savage

Album Art: Erik Savage

Messy Tracklist:
1. Freak Out
2. Philly Jelly
3. Crazy
4. Interlude 1
5. Percs of Life
6. Yeah, No
7. JKayla
8. Everyone Loves You
9. Everybody's Dying
10. Interlude 2
11. Is It Real


Messy has taken Curtis a step further, if we're allowed to say so. In comparison to Laughing In Line, Messy's realness leaves listeners feeling connected to Cooper in a way that Laughing In Line always kept at arm's length - while that isn't to discredit the debut album in anyway, as it's still one of our favorites, it seems more so to do with the fact that Curtis Cooper is growing as an artist and Messy is just that - messy and trying to figure that out with the poise and grace that only Curtis knows how to show.

Opening track 'Freak Out' is unlike anything we've heard before from the artist, a stellar opening track as it jumpstarts the rabbit hole that Messy cultivates, fall into the spaces of mind you haven't been dealing with. With obvious rock influence, this track maintains a tone that feels comfortable for the album to begin with. 'Philly Jelly' and 'Crazy' are going to be staples of the album, reminiscent of Laughing In Line in sound and form, with important lyrical content that we feel also really makes up a huge chunk of this album. 'Percs of Life' and 'Yeah, No' follow suit, are easy to listen and relate to.

The two interludes are really interesting to me because the only successful interludes I've ever heard are in more conceptual albums and usually flow casually in between tracks. However, the interludes here feel more weighted and exciting as they not only flow between tracks, but they also offer up feeling whether that be via whistling in 'Interlude 1' or the pure instrumental of 'Interlude 2,' honestly I was just really blown away by the cohesiveness of these two tracks because at first glance it can be a bit off putting. 

Stand out tracks for us are 'Everyone Loves You,' 'Everyone's Dying,' and 'Is It Real.' These tracks stand out because they feel new, fresh and exciting for Curtis. Maybe it's just where our head is at right now, but we really connected to these three tracks on every level they experience - especially 'Is It Real' the closing tracks of all closing tracks, seriously what the heck listen to it right now. Honestly, though, we could be here forever talking about how much we love Curtis Cooper. Their sound is ambitious and addictive. They take what we love about the Philadelphia music scene, that guttural, instinctual, clenched feeling of emotional expression and put it into one place. This album is easy to listen to, it ebbs & flows against itself in a way that feels familiar but also new. 

Check out Messy, check out Curtis Cooper, their album release show is on January 19th and you definitelty don't want to miss out on that or this album. Below we've got their social media links, and you can check out their bandcamp via the tracklist above! As always thanks for reading and catch up with us next time!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // SoundCloud

Architect the Destroyer - Tiny Thoughts Review

We're coming out of our hiatus to talk to you about Architect the Destroyer. You might remember Architect the Destroyer, aka Justin Genzo, from The Hook Journal's, The July EP where we featured "Cherry Wine," but if not, let us re-introduce you.

With a background in music, but never a clear place of belonging, Architect the Destroyer was born in early 2017 with an aim to hone in on the cross between indie, folk, & alternative. With the release of The Daisy EP in April 2017, Architect the Destroyer was really only preparing us for
what was to come - a sweet, heartfelt little wound that begs to be heard and paid attention to.

Tiny Thoughts is a 10-track debut album that features The Daisy EP favorites like "Cherry Wine," "Daisy," and "Bedroom Talk." The consistency of Tiny Thoughts is a cohesive, impressive debut for Architect the Destroy that has carved out a special place in my library for a discography as lovely as this.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Thomas Louis

Artwork: Thomas Louis

Tiny Thoughts Tracklist:
1. Cherry Wine
2. We Are Stars
3. Paper Heart
4. Daisy
5. Bedroom Talk
6. Adventure
7. Oil & Water
8. Sleep
9. Golden
10. Birds

 

After listening to this album a few times over, I really was left with an overwhelming sense of fullness. Tiny Thoughts pushes listeners into uncomfortable spots without them ever knowing, tracks like "Paper Heart" or "Golden" that etch away at things you're trying to forget. Or maybe you're looking for the way to say that thing to someone you love, or used to love, or never loved at all even though it sure as hell felt like it - "Cherry Wine" or "Oil & Water" might make you feel more whole than before. 

Something that Architect the Destroyer is really good at is encapsulating smallness and making it as large as it seems when it's in our heads. Not only was I impressed by the production of this album, all of which completed by Genzo himself, but the lyricism and musicianship that accompanies it feels weighted and well thought out. Tiny Thoughts matters to the maker, and in turn it matters to the listener.

However, we're about to get real deep into track 8, "Sleep" so how about you stream it down below and we'll catch up with you after.

Is it on? Good.

"Sleep" is one of the most profoundly interesting and underwhelming tracks on the album at first glance. At over 8 minutes long, you may ask yourself what possibly could be happening that is 8 minutes long on this album? But, I recommend not dismissing this track in the slightest, as it truly felt like an embodiment of what Tiny Thoughts felt like as a whole. A dissonant, mellow track that clings onto every moment it exists within. It coddles you, it leaves you be, it gives you nothing to hold onto except for the echo of "sleep." 

Bottom line? This album is worth the listen. It's moving, it's fun, it makes you feel good. Tiny Thoughts is a beautiful addition to a year full of good music, and we're so happy Architect the Destroyer is here to add to that.

To keep up to date with everything they're up to, check out Architect the Destroyer's social media down below!

Architect the Destroyer: Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

The Backwoods - The Blue Spot Recordings

Virginia based pop punk band The Backwoods have released a heavy hitting EP titled The Blue Spot Recordings that’s sure to hit the spot for emo pop and pop punk fans alike!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

The Blue Spot Recordings Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day 
2. Bayberry
3. Early Birds
4. Buyer's Book
5 .June

 

 

 

 

This EP is something I’d like to describe as “organized aggravation.” 

It’s something that’s very common in the pop punk genre; well structured music with a very angry and volatile delivery. The vocals delivers his lines layered with throat tearing growl reminiscent of Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years. Not to mention his screams cut at the same edge as his singing, without the melodic restraints of course. It’s 150% emotional emphasis.

However, on the song “Early Birds,” a particular vocal part really stood out to me. Around the 0:28 mark, a smooth and soulful melody takes over that is easily not only the best vocal part of the album, but probably one of the best verse parts I’ve heard this year. I just wish there was more of that going on throughout the release.

Instrumentally, The Blue Spot Recordings is punch after punch after punch. There’s a nice full feel in the kick drum that really gives a punishing heaviness to the album overall. There’s a solid fullness to everything, and endless riffs that I really wish I had written first.  

Going back to “Early Birds” (sorry it’s my favorite track) there’s even a little breakdown part. Think less easycore/metalcore and more melodic hardcore. I was practically hitting spin kicks in my living room.

There wasn’t really much that I didn’t like about this, but there were a couple of things. First, I wish the production was just a little bit better. I wanted to talk about the general themes going on in the album, but a lot of the time I couldn’t pick out individual sentences because the vocals, at times, were either overshadowed by the guitars or just a victim of the singers raw, emotive performance. Secondly, as stated before, I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more of the soulful singing. I was enjoying the album before I got to that part, but that really blew me away. I really think that stylistically it would make for some really nice hooks.

All in all, this was an exceptionally solid release by The Backwoods.

If you enjoy hard, driving pop punk/alternative rock, you’ll be hooked.  If not, well it’s worth at least a listen anyway. Everyone’s got an aggressive side to them, and music is a place where we can kind of release those emotions safely. This is the kind of music for that. It’s a torch carrier of a long maintained tradition of being in a tightly packed venue, covered in the sweat of friends you don’t know yet, and having a good night the whole time. I can definitely see myself going to one of their shows, and I can definitely see The Backwoods carving out a future in the pop punk scene.

For more on The Backwoods, check out their social media to stay up to date with what they're up to!

The Backwoods:  Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

Paige K - Self-Titled EP Review

Paige K, otherwise known as Pagona Kytzidis, is an ambitious young indie artist from Cheltenham, ready to make a name for herself in the music world.

Only 18 years old, Paige K is off to a good start with her self-titled debut EP. All four songs on the album were written by Paige herself. She names some of her influences as Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes, and The Smiths, but with her own unique sound, Paige K brings a promising debut to the indie music sphere. She’s already played various venues around the local Philadelphia area and continues to impress with her powerful vocals and reverbed guitar chords. 

Check out the tracklist below!

Self Titled Tracklist:
1. tragic
2. a possible new chapter 03:50
3. prop me up 03:46
4. tomorrow 04:39

 

 

 

 

Her self-titled EP definitely speaks to her influences, but her sound is all her own. I am impressed by her vocals, especially since she’s only 18. She sounds older than she is in her songs, and her talent is evident. This girl is going places.

With a slew of public performances already under her belt, she’s also already recorded 30 songs besides the 4 on her EP. I can’t imagine how she balances school with building up her music career, but her hard work pays off in this EP. My favorite song is easily “A Possible New Chapter,” the second of the four. All the songs on the EP are what I like to call “coffeehouse jams,” perfect for live performances at local hotspots, and like what you would hear while in line at Starbucks or Saxby’s.

What stands out to me the most is definitely the momentum behind the vocals, but the layered guitar is equally as effective. The chords in “Tomorrow” are amazing. I wish I had the combination of talent and ambition that this girl does. I can sing, but I can’t play any instruments, and I don’t have nearly the work ethic I would need to move forward in the music world like Paige is doing. I applaud her for the time and effort she’s put into her music, because it really pays off.

I would love to hear more from her in the future, and she’s definitely worth checking out. Keep up to date with Paige K on her social media below!

Paige K: Website // Facebook // Bandcamp

WAYNOWAY - Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die Review

Photography: Richard Sanders

Photography: Richard Sanders

Out of Asbury Park, NJ comes a band that is near and dear to my beach bum heart. WAYNOWAY have been on my radar since October or so, and I have yet to get over their sound since. The four piece consists of Matt Bilbao, Thomas Louis, Alex Costantino, and Justin Genzo - and together they create the smoothest surf-y, indie rock I've gotten my hands on to date.

Their four track EP is one of the shortest I've ever done a review for, with each track coming in just over 2:30 in length - it's been easy to get lost in Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die?, and it's not just because it's an easy going EP. Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die? is a dynamic little collection that moves effortlessly, almost seamlessly through an electric type of emotion. Each track exudes the confidence of an anxious egomaniac - one that moves with an ebb and flow of anxiety and somber, to excited euphoria. 

There are four tracks on Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die, and you can check out the tracklist below before we start to dig a little bit deeper.

Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die Tracklist:
1. Did You Leave?
2. Escape
3. I Don't Love You (At All)
4. I'll Be Okay

 

 

 

 


After releasing their single, "Haunted Beach," in January of 2016. Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die? soon followed in May of 2016 to debut as Waynoway's first EP. In that time the group has played shows all along the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey) and are rumored to be in the studio gearing up for a brand new compilation of work - but for now we have Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die?, and that's still stellar.

Opening track, "Did You Leave?" sets the mood for the rest of the EP - what exactly are you getting yourself into with this? Louis' soft, smooth voice outlined by the upbeat, summer-y feeling of instrumental background that not only highlights but, at times, blends perfectly between vocal and music precision. 

Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die? also sports some of the most enthralling, heartbreaking and indifferent lyrics that I've ever heard/read and it just adds so much important character to each of these differing tracks! And while we're on the subject, each track sports a different type of tone than the last, but thematically, the EP is flawless (if I do say so myself).

Between you and I, I can't decide on whether my favorite track is "Escape" or "I'll Be Okay." The two tracks are both about two similar ideas - the first a warm heart, a collection of moments, it feels like holding someone's hand; still new, still exciting. With the dual male vs. female vocal, this track makes a big appearance out of itself on the EP for myself as a listener, and the riff is absolutely unbelievable.

Check out "Escape" below!


Of course, "I'll Be Okay," also features the male vs. female vocal track, and an indescribably upbeat instrumental following that shows off the lyricism and precision & enunciation that Waynoway seem to make important in their tracks! Maybe, if I had to absolutely choose, I would choose "Escape" just because it feels more unique to the EP than "I'll Be Okay," does. However, the sincerity and warming lull that they both exude make me feel good, so I'll keep jammin' to both.

Last, but not least, and not even last on the EP is "I Don't Love You (At All)" which highlights loving someone and then not loving them, or maybe you never loved them at all, and it just happened to be the sun in your eyes. Either way, this track is fast paced in comparison to the former and latter. With it's main message in the chorus, "It's ok to be sad," highlighting the track, I feel that this track really incorporated or became what the EP was about.

Waynoway has this way of making things feel nostalgic and new at the same time. Their lyrics are emotional, but equally as distant and uninterested, all while keeping up with a quick beat, a paced riff. 

Either way, whatever it is I think, I hope you check out Waynoway, and their EP Who Will Pet My Dog When I Die? because it's sincerely fantastic music. For more on Waynoway, and to keep up with them, you should check out their social media! Tell them why you hate them, tell them how to make a PB&J, or just tell them how cool you are - either way, check it out!

Waynoway: Facebook // Bandcamp // Twitter // Instagram

 

Nothing Vital - The Lies You've Told Review

Nothing Vital, the 4-piece alternative rock band based out of Doylestown, PA released their debut EP, The Lies You’ve Told back in September of 2016, and here at The Hook we’re excited to finally give the album the proper review that it deserves. The Lies You’ve Told is a collection of incredibly eclectic songs that touches on nearly every different genre of modern rock in one way or another.

The peculiar thing about Nothing Vital is that they execute these often conflicting styles of rock with an impressive amount of style and precision. They overcome the need to conform to one genre and can effortlessly weave in and out of alternative, pop-punk, hard rock, and others to make a sound that is all their own.  This is on full display in each of the 5 tracks on The Lies You’ve Told.

Nothing Vital consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Sam Rocca, rhythm guitarist John Leahy, bassist Jake Mercer, and drummer David Giller. The band got together in early 2016 and is already making big waves in the local scene, and with good reason. Although The Lies You’ve Told is their debut EP, it features performances and songwriting that rival some acts that have been around for much, much longer.

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The Lies You’ve Told Tracklist:
1) Alleyways
2) Less
3) Elevator Music
4) Save Me Now
5) Give ‘em Hell

 

 




The EP kicks off with “Alleyway” which is arguably the most alternative sounding song on the record and my personal favorite. It sets the tone with light, but steady percussion, a guitar riff that is emo in all the right ways, and vocals that are intimate and vulnerable. It’s atmospheric, groovy, catchy and still manages to get fairly heavy toward the end.

“Less” is a classic hard rock song that is driven by a simple yet extremely effective signature guitar riff. While it is a fine song, nothing here is groundbreaking, and may be the least memorable song from the record. There is however an awesome vocal effect that happens in one of the later verses, but it’s applied a bit too harshly and is too short-lived.

The third track, “Elevator Music” is a track that I grew to love much more than I thought I would. It reminds me of a weird blend between Matchbox 20 and Pearl Jam and somehow works extremely well. The verses are tight, straightforward and very pop sounding with syncopated lyrics to keep things interesting, but are met with big and heavy choruses with soaring, emotional vocals that are reminiscent of a grunge tune. “Elevator Music” more than any other song on the record takes me on a journey. By the time the song is over, I actually wonder how I got from the start of the track to the end because it sounds so different, and I think that’s a true testament to the songwriting.

“Save Me Now” is the most well produced song on the record. Starting off with smooth piano, an ethereal violin, light guitar and drums, and delicate vocals, it is actually very reminiscent of a Muse song musically. This of course changes about halfway through the song and we’re greeted with an explosion of drums, overdriven guitars, and dastardly screaming vocals. Yet through all of this, the listener can still hear the violin, and it morphs the song from just another heavy rock track into something much more interesting that actually reminds me of Flobots in a way.

We’ve gone from emo, to pop, to alternative, to even some hip-hop, so of course the logical place to end this record would be with a pop-punk song. “Give Em Hell” doesn’t do anything special with the pop-punk genre, and in fact in teeters on the edge of even being a tad cliché, but in all honesty is works surprisingly well. The Ramones meet Blink-182 in this track which comes fully equipped with everything you might find in a pop-punk song. Quick verses with a hint of rebellion and distaste for society, catchy choruses you can learn in one listen, and of course a bridge that just begs to be drunkenly screamed at the top of your lungs with your buddies. It truly is a fun time.

Nothing Vital has crafted a truly interesting experience with The Lies You’ve Told. The listener is treated to so many different styles of music that are somehow blended masterfully together to make a delicious, cohesive stew. If you haven’t heard it already, The Lies You’ve Told is definitely worth at least one listen through because there’s at least 1 track on there that will appeal to your musical taste. We’re excited for Nothing Vital’s future here at The Hook and will be sure to keep you up to date with any news or releases from them and so much more.

Nothing Vital: Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud // YouTube // Official Site