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Curtis Cooper - Graceful Review

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We have been following Curtis Cooper since our 2016 inception as a music magazine. They are one of the biggest reasons we were successful in Philly, and we couldn’t thank them enough. When Curtis came to us with their latest album, we were beyond excited to get started.

Graceful is the third full length release - following Laughing In Line and Messy. With a whole year between Messy and Graceful, there is a lot to anticipate from the Philadelphia native and DIY legend. Graceful is an ode to Curtis Cooper - a turn around for the singer & songwriter that encapsulates years of learning, hurt, love, and loss into a succinct 13-track album.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Graceful Tracklist:
1. Breathe Out
2. Outta Here
3. Goodbye Gorgeous
4. Graceful
5. Best Dress
6. Tall
7. I Wish I Could Love You (ft. Ganou)
8. All Of The Time
9. Pretty
10. Latency
11. Can’t Decide
12. I Like You
13. I’m Glad

Instrumentally, Graceful is what I’ve always wanted from Curtis Cooper. It is poignant, heavy hitting, and beautiful. Indie-folk mixture of sound, Cooper uses every aspect of this album to lament, and lament hard. Curtis hasn’t lost any of themself in this album, instead highlighting on their already intellectual instrumental performance and heartfelt lyricism - while also upgrading their understanding of music’s full potential as a tool and art form to express oneself.

Something I’ve always admired about Curtis is their ability to write. Graceful does not lack any poetic emphasis, and while listening (if you can) reading the lyrics for this album will only make it that much sweeter, more tender, and hurtful (in a good way). Regardless, it takes a talented musician to understand the importance the whole thing takes - lyric, melody, instrument, and mood. This album encapsulates it - an impeccable, brooding, but matured take from Curtis Cooper.

Please check out this album, stream it, buy it, compliment Curtis personally about how stellar it is. You won’t regret it. To follow what’s going on for Curtis Cooper, check out their social media down below!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp

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 - Laughing In Line Review

Photography: Lina Xinos

Photography: Lina Xinos

Stemming from Philadelphia, PA - we've previously covered Curtis Cooper in a local feature article a few weeks ago!

Here at The Hook, though, we were excited to also have the opportunity to take a look at Laughing In Line, Curtis Cooper's first full-length album. As we talked about before, Curtis took some old songs he had written (after wondering why he had never wanted to focus on making music he really felt for) and hit up some contacts to help him create his album including Scott Stitzer (drums, production), Jack Zaferes (Bass), Morgane Fouse (Ganou) (vocals on two tracks), and Nick Barnes (engineering). 

With the help from his fellow artists, Curtis Cooper was able to get Laughing In Line completed for release back in January!

The debut album includes 9 tracks, all written and created by Curtis - of course with the help of his collection of artistic minds also. Laughing In Line was the beginning of shows for Cooper - it garnered attraction, and he expressed to me in an interview, "I was able to play my songs, and I really just started doing this way more recently than I should have."

Artwork: Abi Reimold

Artwork: Abi Reimold

Laughing In Line Tracklist:
1. 4 Minutes
2. Today L.A.
3. Happy And Sane (feat. Ganou)
4. Side
5. The Effect
6. Arrest
7. Tonight Is For Me
8. Trouble Again
9. White Lies





There is indefinite agreement with that statement. Laughing In Line is a fantastic collection of sincere and cathartic tracks, which create and utilize sound to create an emotional experience with the listener. This works well, I believe, because the instrumental basis of Cooper's music is generally more upbeat and quickly paced, it is also deceiving in using it's ability to hide the fragility and sincerity of lyrical and vocal emotional movements.

While I love the entirety and complexity of this debut album, a few of the tracks really stuck out to me. My personal favorite is most definitely "Trouble Again," because the lyrics are so smooth and subtle. Curtis' vocal work so effortlessly shapes the motion of the track. 

Some other favorites (if I had to pick, I don't want to) are "Arrest," for it's super stellar guitar work and vocal execution. "Today L.A." because of lyrics like, "How long has it been since I've destroyed my new comfort zone," and lastly, "White Lies," for the super funky and ethereal atmosphere, (maybe due to drug reference, maybe instrumentals, maybe Curtis' voice,) but I loved everything so much on this album.

I couldn't urge you anymore than I am right now to get this album. We have it streaming in our Featured Album section, you can buy it on bandcamp and iTunes, as well as stream it on soundcloud. You should be doing all of the above. At once. Probably.

Rating: 9/10

For more on super awesome musician and all-around cool dude, you can check out Curtis Cooper's links below! 

Also, this Friday (May 13th) at Bourbon & Branch in Philadelphia, Curtis will be playing at JUMP Presents: Queen Of Jeans Residency (Sponsored by Art In The Age)! The show is 21+ - however, sure to be real rad!

You can check out the lineup below!
9:00pm - Curtis Cooper
9:45pm - Ceramic Animal
10:30pm - Queen Of Jeans

We'll have an interview up with Curtis in a few weeks, and you should check back for that, too. It's got a lot of potatoes and a lot of feminism.

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud

Nevruary - Noegenisis Review

Released on April 29th, Nevruary's second full-length album, Noegenesis, is an eclectic mix of alt/pop electronic funk!

The band takes their ideas in every direction on this album and that sounds like a problem...but, it never feels like they are trying to do "too" much! There are shades of Hissing Fauna-era Of Montreal sounds on this album, with the serene and sympathetic falsetto choruses filling out each song and hype-manning the lead vocals. Nevruary layers in interesting hip-hop chill vibes towards the end of the LP as well!

The super melodic funky bass is a standout feature in every single track on this album! It is the primary form of instrumentation that they use. There are no guitars in Noegenesis, simply bass, piano, drums, and the occasional wah-synth to accompany the vocals. 

“The Runner,” released as their single, is a slower song and features a catchy hook, “They call me the runner...” The driving force of this song is the droning drum beat and the piano riff, all underlined by the funk bass guitar.

The next song on the album, “Alone To Lead,” takes the funk bass in a different direction, jumping all over the place in a steady riff, while “No Strings” is a powerful ballad that takes away the bass and gives us a beautiful piano/string orchestration. “Backslide” is a hidden gem on the album, it's a small instrumental break that gets showcases a variety of sounds that appear on the LP!

My favorite song on the album is definitely “Under Microscope.” A funky epic that seamlessly transitions through all of the varied flavors that this band juggles. This is a huge stand-out track for myself. 

Check out the track-list below!

NOEGENESIS Tracklist:
1. Jupiter
2. Crest Point
3. Untamed
4. The Runner
5. Alone To Lead
6. No Strings
7. Backslide
8. Steep Faith
9. Distraction
10. Under Microscope
11. In Black and White
12. Unsatisfied


Overall, this album is one you should check out. The memorable hooks, the interesting tonal sound and instrumentation, and wonderful tracks such as “The Runner,” “Distraction,” and “Under Microscope,” really give this album a great feel. I'm looking forward to more releases from Nevruary!

Rating: 9/10

Nevruary: Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Greaver - The Faun Review

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There is a fine line between trend and art. With the advent of D.I.Y. digital distribution,it became much easier for musicians to reach out to fans and sell their music without the help of a record label. While this was a godsend to the misunderstood artist, it also gave way to a dilution of artistry. Anyone having the ability to release music does not necessarily mean all who do, should. In my endless search for new music, I seldom come across musicians I would describe as true innovators. Especially in more emotive genres such as Post-Hardcore. 

While they’re not exactly innovators, Greaver have put out a solid record that fans of Post-Hardcore and Emo acts like Thursday, Pianos Become the Teeth, and Envy will surely find some enjoyment in. The riffs are plentiful throughout the record, discordant and looming overhead instead of hitting you directly. Vocalists/Guitarists Michael Rozier and Michael Townsel blend together really well at the front end of the mix. A lot of the vocals are either duets or traded off throughout the record, creating an interesting and haunting dynamic. Tracks like “Southfield” and “Earth Rune” showcase the uniqueness this sort of vocal arrangement can bring. 

The production on this record really helps with the impact a lot of these tracks can have on the listener. The mix by Al Jacob, who previously worked with bands like He Is Legend, is visceral enough to capture the raw emotion of each song and really take the listener down into this hole that a lot of these songs are sitting in that’s certainly more unsettling than a lot of their peers. Although the production helps most of these songs stay memorable and fresh, a few such as “Last Breath” and “Third Eye” fall pretty flat compared to the rest. The instrumentals on them are both great, however the “voicemail” delivery of the spoken narrative on each of these tracks sound too forced to really draw you in. It’s obvious that these were written and not captured from reality. 

Overall, this is a solid record from an up & coming band. Definitely check them out if you are into any of the bands mentioned above.

I’m curious to see what this band will do next, and after hearing this, I’m sure you will be too.

Rating: 7/10

For more on Greaver, check out their social media!

Greaver: Facebook // Twitter

Semiotics - For How Review

Photography: Jersey Boy Photo

Photography: Jersey Boy Photo

Semiotics has become one of The Hook's most recent featured local bands - from New Brunswick, NJ the DIY group is constantly busy and on the move, taking self-made to levels of extraordinary.

Because we love Semiotics so much, we visited and listened to their most recent EP! For How was released on Halloween in 2015, and it sports six tracks to create Semiotics’ most focused, accomplished, and emotional work to date. 

In comparison to their 2014 debut EP, Simple Requests, For How has taken Semiotics and their mission to a whole new level. I would most definitely say that For How takes what listeners loved about Simple Requests and transforms them into a more mature, better paced and collected moment of sound.

For How is propelled by the dual vocals of Seth Blissenbach and Nick Rapon. I was most impressed by the maturity of not only the lyrical content, but also the range and progressing alt-rock sound that comes through on each track. Not to mention how powerful and cathartic the instrumentals are. From guitar (Nick and Seth, still) to the consistent bass rhythm (Kyle “KyBoi”  O’Connor), and the authoritative and capable drums (Kenny Kabigting) – each track is an exemplary piece of Semiotics’ hard work.

In comparison to the quietude of Simple Requests, For How uses each track like an emotional punching bag in instrumental technique. 

While the tracks on For How are all drastically different, it is easy to feel their focus and drive. They support one another without relying on one another. My favorite track off of the EP is most definitely “Cheers Me Proper,” which the band recently put out a music video for. This track speaks for me in ways that encompass what the rest of the EP is also talking about.

Self-Discrepancy, apathy, loving someone, being alone – and maybe I am empathetic with these ideals because I share them, because it seems that most of us feel that way. Maybe what I love about Semiotics and For How is that in these joyous instrumentals and up-front, honest lyrics I am resonating. I am reverbing in the moment with each beat, each momentum – the EP is the tide I’ve been wanting to be swept away in. 

Check out the track-list below!

Track List:
1. Diy Death Machine
2. Sorry, Bruh
3. Cheers Me Proper
4. M. Connolly
5. Violent In Your Sleep
6. I've Known You Since I Was A Kid

Needless to say, sometimes you find music that you need to find – and For How is the music I needed to find. Semiotics the band I wanted to be into, can continue to be into.

On that note, I will leave you with this line from "Cheers Me Proper," my hopes and fulfillment from this EP - from (and for) Semiotics, “I’m not half the person I plan to become, and I’ll never stop holding my arms up for better.”

Rating: 9/10

The album is available for purchase on Bandcamp and iTunes!

Semiotics: Facebook // Twitter // Bandcamp


Dälek - Asphalt For Eden Review

What do you get when you combine ambient noise in the vein of Incapacitants, Faust, and Merzbow and mix it with Nas-style hip-hop? You, my friend, would have Union City, NJ experimental trio Dälek, who take influences such as Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, Eric B and Rakim, and others to forge their oddball brand of experimental music. Currently consisting of MC dälek (Will Brooks), DJ rEK, and Mike Manteca, the group has been putting out tunes since 1998. In their time, they’ve shared stages with all different kinds of bands, from the likes of Isis, Dillinger Escape Plan, and The Melvins to De La Soul, Prince Paul, and RJD2, to name a very small few. 

After reforming in 2015, the group have been dead-set on bringing more bars, beats, and brain-shattering noise to their masses of fans. Asphalt For Eden, the group’s first official release since 2009’s Gutter Tactics, features some of the strongest music they’ve released. 

Though they once incorporated more elements of more abrasive noise, Dälek has taken the music in a more atmospheric direction. All the tracks feature lush, fully realized soundscapes that gives the music a astral, far-off feel.

In this way, the sound feels like it has evolved, feeding more into the emotions of the listener and reaching further into depths of their creative well which were previously untouched. “Shattered” and “Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)” have a watery, subterranean feel, in the sense that they honestly sound like they could have been recorded in an underwater cavern. Meanwhile,“Critical” feels like a phased-out tumble through dirty back alleys in a noisy urban environment, with a sticky-sounding slap of a snare and the heavy chant-like vocals mixed into the cacophony of disk scratches and layered reverb. 

Check out the track-list below!

Asphalt For Eden Track List:

  1. Shattered
  2. Guaranteed Struggle
  3. Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)
  4. Critical
  5. 6dB
  6. Control
  7. It Just Is





The secret to their sound is the powerhouse creative combination of DJ rEK and Mike Manteca, who bring a new fold into the tried-n-true formula that MC dälek helped create with fellow founding member Oktopus, who parted ways with the group in 2011. The album has a sound akin to their roots, with the underlying beats reminiscent of the group’s 1998 debut album Negro Necro Nekros. It takes the trippy beats and washes them in cascading sound. Don’t resist the urge to call it “gaze-hop”; given their influences and its resulting effect on their sound, the term would fit like a glove.

To sum it up, you need to listen to this album. It is a uniquely enjoyable experience from beginning to end, one that old-school hip-hop fans and new-age die-hards alike can appreciate. It caters to followers of Captain Murphy just as easily as it does to fans of Rakim. This album is helping lay the groundwork for some amazing experimentation in the hip-hop scene, and we can’t wait to see what Dälek come up with next.

Rating: 8/ 10

DÄLEK: Website // Facebook

 

 

Dreamer & Son - Written Off, Moving On Review

On April 2nd, ambient rockers, Dreamers & Son released their brand new EP!

Written Off, Moving On is a short but substantial release to add to their up and coming discography!

Perfect for the springtime season of new music. The album has a lot of diversity in its sound and should appeal to a few different tastes in modern-day pop/rock. The album starts with a brief instrumental introduction on "Tension" before moving into a power-pop song, "Hello Vancouver,” and seems to be fitting well with the groups desire to “break down genre barriers and build a diverse family; a community based on love and acceptance.”

Written Off, Moving On really hits a high mark with "Sweep.” The lyrics are intimate and emotional, while the hook is most memorable. The sound on this song hits a sweet spot for me and the blistering guitar fill solo at the end is a ton of fun, which brings a lot of energy to the track.

"Everyone Loves the Violins" is another standout track; raw emotion rings out through the lyrics and vocal performance. "Everyone knows I've not slept for days; wonderful things come in horrible ways,” is such a great line.

The album then closes with "Not One Dry Eye" with a catchy hook and melodramatic flair that captures the spirit of the EP in one song.

Check out the track listing below!

Written Off, Moving On:
1. Tension
2. Hello Vancouver
3. Sweep
4. Everyone Loves The Violins
5. Not One Dry Eye







Overall, the EP works to spread out the musicality of ambient rock. There's most likely something here for everybody who is interested. It doesn't fill a niche genre taste because it doesn't really need to. It's a straightforward rock EP and I'd recommend giving it a listen!

Rating: 7/10

Check out the EP (available on iTunes) and follow Dreamers & Son on social media!

Dreamer & Son: Facebook // Bandcamp // Twitter