nj local

Halogens - Happy Hour Review

0015285853_10.jpg

When it comes to one of our favorite bands, Halogens, we just can’t get enough. In fact, we haven’t gotten enough since we first heard their 2016 Self-Titled EP, so thank god for Happy Hour. Releasing on February 22nd, consider it a belated Valentines Day gift from the dynamic foursome.

Comprised of Zach Henry (Vocals/Guitar), Charlie Throckmorton (Guitar), Tim Wuestneck (Bass/Vocals), and George Saives (Drums), allowing the band to pack a heavy punch. The six track EP is the latest edition to the bands growing discography, and one to surely solidify Halogens in your hearts. It is heartfelt, knit-picking, and typically Halogens-esque in certain moments. We’re talking brash, coarse vocals, heavy hitting instrumentals balanced by a softness that entangles you emotionally, cathartically, and sometimes painfully.

Check out the track list below!

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Happy Hour Tracklist:
1. Pretty Enough
2. The Inside
3. Buckle
4. Sometimes
5. O’Gourman
6. The Backwoods



“Pretty Enough” opens up the EP’s melancholy - something I’d describe as an emotional longing that Halogens has always been good at conveying. There is always a sense of cathartic urgency, and every track is an inevitable purging. The band has been showcasing this track at recent shows, switching up their set list and giving listeners a taste of what to come. “Pretty Enough” also bonds the EP together as an opening track, which is one of the most impressive feats of this album.

In comparison to previous EP’s, I would say that Happy Hour feels stronger. It has a sense of itself, it flows well together, and while the tracks maintain a signature sound that the band has cultivated, the tracks don’t bleed - having the ability to exist on their own allows them the opportunity to utilize the tracks in different, more meaningful ways. Halogens has definitely grown up for this one, maintaining their instrumental complexity while also exploring this new softness that I’m really into.

My favorite track is “Buckle.” Anchoring the middle of an EP can be tricky, but “Buckle” does so in a way that alters the mood of the EP so listeners slide into “Sometimes.” I also really appreciated how the tempo slowed down for this track. By switching into this rhythm, the emphasis moves back onto the lyrics - a problem that Halogens has faced before, losing the lyrics in the instrumentals. “Sometimes” swoops in to dance away all of the sadness. I do wonder what else Halogens can do, though. I wonder, upon listening back on previous work, what growth Halogens can continue to make. What sounds can they cultivate to give the listener even more? How do they allow themselves the ability to step outside of a pre-designed box, one that works well and executes nicely. As the band adds more, I have a sense that I want more.

One thing I appreciate, especially about the lyricism in this album, is that Halogens never fail to make the listener feel included or secure. Halogens simultaneously validates and empowers listeners with commonality, the idea of being relatable is never lost on the band. They know just the way you feel, those oddities of experiencing life, sadness, loss, and most importantly - happiness. Happy Hour succeeds in keeping listeners excited & queued in on Halogens. It leaves little to want, but maybe Halogens next move will be different, or maybe they won’t. Either way, they remain as one of our favorite locals of all time - a band with good intentions, support and kindness that exceeds their music.

We’ve got links down below to access Halogens, so you should definitely be checking them out. Support them by purchasing merchandise and/or their music on Bandcamp, and thanks for choosing The Hook!

Halogens: Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

LKFFCT - Dawn Chorus Review

0011446644_10.jpg

We can't let you miss out on New Jersey's rising Indie stars, can we? That'd be bad press, and we're in no place to allow that kind of mishap. We welcome Montclair's LKFFCT onto our most recent listening circuit with their junior album, Dawn Chorus. The 11-track monster of a listen is sure to be the thing you've been waiting to hear - their most defined and important album to date that is a mash up of all the things Indie lovers should want to hear.

I mean, I am one, so maybe you'll also want to hear it too.

If you're looking for Weezer, mixed with some surf rock, prog pop and classic singer/songwriter vibes with a few guitar solos mixed in then Dawn Chorus is going to give you exactly what you want. While their discography is typical lonely, introspective and wanting, Dawn Chorus extends itself as if it's asking the listener to give something back. What can we give back? We the other twenty-somethings, bumping around like tiny bees against a good breeze. Maybe Dawn Chorus has the answer?

Check out the tracklist below!

Dawn Chorus Tracklist:
1. Hatchling
2. Down The Road
3. Anesthesia
4. Sleeves
5. Flavor
6. Starling
7. Ayy Lmao
8. Bridget
9. Phobic
10. Punching Bag
11. Blue Jay



This sprite of a release begins with "Hatchling" the very essence of what an opening track should be. An opening into what this pale purple world is for LKFFCT. "Hatchling" also has one of the most intense guitar solos of my life, so what better way to open up your album then buy completely shredding it to pieces? "Down The Road" reminds me of a hint of punk and surf mixed together. A track that doesn't take itself too seriously.

"Anesthesia" is one of the tracks that reminds me of Weezer, especially the lyrical content & that opening chord. Might be one of my favorites, honestly, and "I know I'm broke and somewhat bent / but please don't ever leave me" is generally how Dawn Chorus is going to linger for listeners. Following up on it is "Sleeves," a sweet little diddy that I've caught myself keeping on a little bit longer than the rest. The ebb & flow of this track feels like a warm place to sleep, perfect little clouds in a blue sky. 

Check it out below!

"Flavor" is going to bring you back up to speed with those half-sung, half-shout vocals and catchy riff, just to bring you right back down into "Starling." The most singer/songwriter track on the album, it differs from "Sleeves" in the way that it carries more weight. "Ayy Lmao" reminds you that nothing is ever quite that serious, not even LKFFCT's third album, and we're quite alright with that.

"Bridget" stands out to me as a track that exudes a poetic smartness, an uncanny knack of being a moment people share. I personally really love these tender moments that LKFFCT evokes. Their ability to switch on and off between slacker rock and indie rock makes them feel well rounded and provocative. The duality of vocals on this also makes it feel personal, as if you're the only person who could really listen to the track. "Phobic" reminds me of the few other slower tracks on the album, it's opening chords catchy and stand out - but I wonder what else it's saying, or maybe could be saying. "Punching Bag" is a quip of a song, one that keeps the movement of the album. Final track "Blue Jay" is the perfect book end to a, sometimes, endless bookshelf. It encapsulates moments that I enjoyed from each track, both a diddy and anthem that is serious but never too much. 

Overall, LKFFCT has a winner with Dawn Chorus. The album is a heartfelt note to listeners, both new and old that begs a moment of your time. I was impressed by their ability to bring together a collection of songs that all at once felt singular and unique, but important and vital all on one work. Since their last release in the summer of 2016, it is clear that LKFFCT is working towards a common goal - one that they get closer and closer to with each new album.

Don't miss out on this one, sincerely, and to keep up with LKFFCT for shows and recent updates, check out their social media for more! As always, thanks for reading & we're officially marking LKFFCT as Hook Approved.

LKFFCT: Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr

P-Funk North - Buds Won't Break Your Heart Review

If the lovechild of Sublime, Bob Marley, and Street Light Manifesto exists, it would be P-Funk North. Hailing from North Plainfield, New Jersey - the best parts of Reggae, Ska & Funk are extensively procured and executed in Buds Won’t Break Your Heart the October 8th, 2016 release that is a 12-track compendium of "jahms" (obviously a made up word of mine combining Jah & jams…).

Check out the tracklist below!

Buds Won't Break Your Heart Tracklist:
1. 3rd Degree Of Separation 
2. Sugarcoat
3. More Than Meets The Eye 
4. Poppies & Gin
5. Hit The Bowl
6. Smoke Break
7. Feel It In Your Blood
8. Waking Up Angry
9. Billy The Bum
10. Jealousy 
11. Rewind The Crisis
12. True Love Anarchy 


The band goes through a few genres bending pieces: “Sugarcoat” stands out as the heavily Sublime-esque vibes that soar throughout the song. The songs starts out with the title in the track putting you off on an adventure of candid irony, “What would you do if I told you to lie to me? Would you oblige or tell me honestly? And would you even know how to sugarcoat it properly?”  The band gets an 80s dance-rock feel on “Poppies & Gin” making it a very dance-pop piece with a grunge band. P-Funk North creates an immersive realm to their minds and emotions going through the changes of their versatility.  

Produced by Ryan Weil of Weilhouse Productions the album seems to be forced to create as many types of genre bending avenues in order to get the most organic output for the band’s talent.

The ska reggae romance continues in “Hit The Bowl” the song is an anthem for ‘letting go of stress and anxieties; perpetuated through Society and personal relationships.’ The artwork is spectacular giving the band a beautiful concept for their Cannabis-based Ska act, it gives way to explain their intriguing view on life in general. The band gets very swingy in “Waking Up Angry” the second half of the album is just showcasing how amazing the band really is.

Dave with his vocals and bass parts that are soulful and lyrical; he tells stories of his mind and where he’s at in each song. Joel ripping on the guitar gives the band the domain in which the drums and bass can lock into the groove. Pat’s innate drumming and percussion abilities have a way of making myself move. Mastering credit goes to Len Carmichael, bringing together a brilliant master - Ryan Weil’s genius mix giving the band the space and place as a sonic representation.  

The ending tracks of “Rewind The Crisis” and “True Love Anarchy” bring this opus of Reggae Radicalism to a close - epically might I add, throwing  down on a few good Ska breaks. P-Funk North are a force to be reckoned with on the Reggae scene, be on the lookout for upcoming releases you can find their links below!

Favorite Song: Sugarcoat
Honorable Mentions: Hit The Bowl, Billy The Bum

P-Funk North: Facebook // Twitter // SoundCloud

Youth In Revolt - The Broken Review

Youth in Revolt’s history has been anything but normal, but finally after 4 years of waiting, lineup changes, and an indefinite hiatus, their debut LP The Broken will be released on January 20th, 2017.

Although technically a follow up to their highly successful debut EP Love Is a Liars Game, I like to consider this record more of a new chapter for the band. While The Broken definitely has that signature Youth in Revolt pop-hardcore sound, something feels different on this record, and if you are a true fan of their earlier work, this album may rub you the wrong way.

Former lead vocalist True Arahill has left the band and has been replaced by Tanner Allen formerly of Brightwell, and while Allen does an admirable job of filling in the large shoes left behind by Arahill, replacing a lead singer always comes with its challenges and obstacles which are some of the most inherent and biggest flaws with The Broken.

The Broken Tracklist:
1)    The Noise
2)    Love is a Liar’s Game
3)    Not Giving Up
4)    The Broken
5)    Brisbane
6)    Don’t Wait for Me
7)    There for You
8)    I’m not Scared
9)    Alright
10)    Sleep
11)    Only One

 

The album opens up with “The Noise” which kicks things off with heavy riffs and beats that you would come to expect from a Youth in Revolt song, but the moment the verse and vocals come in, you can immediately hear the difference. Aside from Allen’s voice being slightly higher and a bit more pop sounding than Arahill’s, the tracks themselves are much more produced. These 2 things combined are more than enough to take away any authenticity an older Youth in Revolt fan may be waiting to hear on this record. With that being said, if you do go into this album with an open mind, you will be treated to some awesome breakdowns, screams, and catchy choruses that are guaranteed to have you head banging your night away. 

You can get a taste of their new lineup and sound from their latest music video for the title track of the record.

Musically, the band is incredibly tight on the record and The Broken serves up some very interesting ideas about combining genres that kept me truly entertained throughout most of the record. Despite this, some of my favorite moments on the record actually occur when the band commits to one style of music entirely because they execute it to near perfection. Whether that happens during breakdowns with Torres’ powerful screams, or during some verses or choruses with Allen’s more pop side, these are the moments when the record truly shines its best. Stand out tracks for me that truly put this on full display are “Sleep,” “Love is a Liar’s Game,” “Don’t Wait for Me,” and “The Noise.” The trouble occurs when hardcore meets pop, and it really makes it feel as if the band themselves are suffering from a bit of identity crisis. 

The Broken is a fun album that definitely rocks as well. You won’t find any deep, meaningful lyrics that will touch your soul, or any groundbreaking ideas that will leave you in awe, but what you will find are catchy songs that are executed with precision and intensity that will make you want to have a good time. Youth in Revolt have gone a bit of transformation during their career and this change of identity is definitely reflected in the music on the record. While combining 2 genres isn’t done as well as it has been done by Youth in Revolt in the past, the styles on their own more than warrant appreciation.

For these reasons, I am going to give The Broken a 7.8/10. 

Keep up to date with Youth in Revolt on their social media pages!

Youth In Revolt:  Facebook // Twitter // YouTube // Official Website // Instagram

 

Above the Moon - The Distance is the Same Review

Photo: Michael Scicolone /  MS3 Photography

Photo: Michael Scicolone / MS3 Photography

Madison, NJ natives Above The Moon have been very busy - and we're just trying to keep right on up with them!

As Fall moves onward, we're branching out our feelers for new tunes, and Above The Moon finds their way onto our radar as of late! Their EP, The Distance is the Same, was just released on September 23rd, and is a 5-track-diddy sure to set your heart on fire! Totally check out the tracklist for The Distance is the Same below so you can follow along!

Artwork: Shawn Murphy

Artwork: Shawn Murphy

The Distance is the Same Tracklist:
1. Feel it Again
2. Silver Tongue
3. More Time
4. Stop Trying
5. Moon

 

 

 

 

The Distance is the Same is a hearty EP, featuring the talented collective of Kate Griffin (vocals, guitar), James Harrison (guitar, vocals), Shawn Murphy (bass), and John Gramuglia (drums). The quartet forms a tight little union to really highlight on all of their specific talents which create Above The Moon's sound - quirky, somber, and electric with sound!

Each track comes in at a well rounded 3-minutes, and exercise sound in genres closely related to alt-rock. Above the Moon reminds me a bit of Paramore's early work - the more gritty, eccentric guitar and drum work paired with Griffin's vocals set a really nice tone for the backdrop of their lyrics - lovestruck angst, loss, grief, the moon.

Opening track, "Feel It Again" is the opening of the metaphorical healing, but angry wound that The Distance is the Same inhabits. This song is smooth with a steady rhythmic drum and bass beat, the guitar a follower to Griffin's voice. This track sets the tone nicely for the album, a precursor to a lot of the themes to follow - but still allowing for some instrumental surprise to happen later on!

"Silver Tongue" follows up with a gruffer opening. A bass line to catch your ear, and an exciting angst that makes you want to bob your head. This track really opens up the EP to a new, more exciting level that is different than "Feel It Again," but definitely working on the same plane. It is followed up by third track "More Time," which slows us down for a more alternative rock scenescape, one with a catchy guitar line and a softer vocal poignancy from Griffin.

"Stop Trying" rings in as track 4, a track that Above the Moon also recently put out a music video for, which you can check out and hear for yourself below!

"Stop Trying" is reminiscent of "Feel It Again" and "Silver Tongue," which really gives this EP a nice, even flow to the consistency of music and tendencies! We really appreciated the ability to create unique tracks that followed a similar discourse to keep listeners guessing, while still comfortable!

Final track "Moon" is our absolute favorite off of the EP. "Moon" is so beautifully written, not only instrumentally, but lyrically as well. Griffin's voice is like a howling wolf during a full moon, the emphasis on that 'o' sound is so beautiful throughout "Moon." Instrumentally, "Moon" is a somber, sentient, and ethereal track much different than it's predecessors - which we appreciate as two things: an opening and closing.

"Moon" closes The Distance is the Same (using the EP title and their band title all in one song, ugh) while also opening us up to the idea of new sounds. What is next of Above the Moon? For now we'll let them revel in the clear success that The Distance is the Same has accomplished for them. A solid, standout EP that highlights what we loved about Above the Moon in their self-titled EP, but also a growth and change into something new.

For more on Above the Moon, check out their social media below!

Above the Moon: Website // Instagram // Facebook 

Halogens - Halogens EP Review

Enter in Halogens - one of The Hook's most recent featured locals, and add in their most recent EP, also Halogens.

What a great way to end your Tuesday off, am I right? Let's get started: Halogens self-titled EP is something you should be listening to already, but if you aren't, I'll be telling you all the reasons why you should most definitely get around to listening to it!

Released back in January (forgive us, we're catching up), Halogens - EP is a 5 track collection of diverse, eclectic and down right fun music. This is the pop punk you've been looking for. Of course, we're getting ahead of ourselves. The four piece pop punk outfit consists of Zach Henry (lead vocals and guitar), Charlie Throckmorton (guitar), Tim Wuestneck (bass and vocals), and George Saives (drums). A killer combo if you ask me. 

Check out the tracklist below!

Halogens Tracklist
1. Kitchen Sink
2. Run Around
3. Ayúdame!
4. Olive Garden Pt. 2
5. Resolution Phase

The EP opens up with "Kitchen Sink," a super powerful pop-punk introduction into the album. Not to mention one of my favorite tracks, as well. It's jam packed with stellar instrumentals that focus on current trends in pop-punk - complex rhythmic structures, vocals that rely both on singing and screaming, and of course lyrics to completely decimate your soul.

I wouldn't say, though, that Halogens is doing any reckless decimation with this EP. In fact, all of these tracks are plain old fun and lyrically more up-lifting than most - while, of course, still operating and dealing with the ideas of being alone, sadness, and upholding standards.

(Emotional stuff, you'll like it, I swear it.) 

Tracks to follow "Kitchen Sink," include the headrush powerhouse of "Run Around," an incredibly impressive and hard-hitting track that sits nicely in between the introduction of "Kitchen Sink," and the softer "Ayúdame!" The last track on the EP is "Resolution Phase," which is definitely the most quiet of the entire collection - a sincere resolution perhaps in the universe that the EP exists in - full of questions unanswered, of hunger, sadness, hope.

Of course, my other favorite track is "Olive Garden Pt. 2" - a song that I feel really cultivates all of the power, rhythm and really intelligent music making that Halogens has to offer. The 2:40 minute long track is the shortest on the EP, but uses incredible lyrics, vocals and instrumentals to create this superb culmination of music - and gosh, that wicked interlude before the two final sections - ok just listen to it.

Maybe I can sum it up like this: Halogens is really good, and their newest EP, Halogens is something you should add to your current playlist.

And, if you don't believe me - from "Olive Garden Pt. 2" all you need to know about Halogens, "Why can’t I shake this? / We’re just dying to relax."

True. Same.

Rating: 9/10

As always, head over to their social media for more info!

Halogens is also headed on tour, and you can check those dates out below, it's gonna be rad so make a show!

Halogens: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Hiding Out - Vena Cava Review

Today, listeners received some really great music - and it definitely wasn't part of a joke.

Hiding Out released their debut EP today! Vena Cava is the band's first EP, and follows months of hard work and rehearsal to achieve a sincerely illustrative and beautiful collection of tracks to introduce themselves as a group you should definitely be watching!

The album is a collective of four tracks - each ambient and chill. Reminiscent of the beach and nighttime. The band released "Light Me Up" as their single off of the EP back in January to good reviews! They also created a music video for the piece upon its release, which allowed for an amping up of Vena Cava's arrival!

The EP definitely does not disappoint. Each track has it's own mood to contribute to the listener. The title track, "Vena Cava," is a two and a half minute long instrumental track, which comes immediately after the electric "Light Me Up." Meanwhile, "Dry Heat," and "Ghosts In The Backseat," feel much more passionate and quiet - like secrets shared between people underneath covers and warm.

Photo Credit: Emily Tantuccio

Photo Credit: Emily Tantuccio

Check out the track-listing below, as well as the video for "Light Me Up."

Track listing:
1. Dry Heat
2. Light Me Up
3. Vena Cava
4. Ghosts In The Backseat

Not only is the album stellar, The Hook also had the opportunity to check out Hiding Out and some other fantastic NJ locals at one of their first shows as a band in NYC at The Bitter End! You can check out our show review of that tomorrow!

Needless to say, Vena Cava is an impressive debut EP. My favorite track is definitely still "Light Me Up," with "Ghost In The Backseat," as a close second. These two tracks ring out to me because of the lyrical content - which feels most important to Hiding Out's mission as artists on this EP. These tracks speak in stories - with instrumentals and vocal precisions to back up the lyricism created.

Go and buy this album, available on iTunes. Check out their social media - tell them you like their stuff, and gear up for summer with this heat infused debut EP.

Rating: 9/10

Hiding Out: Facebook // Twitter // Youtube // Instagram