reviews

Ship and Sail - From Seeds Review

Photography: Abby Recker

Photography: Abby Recker

A little fun, and also a little sad is the tagline from Ship & Sail’s Bandcamp - and the Michigan natives are definitely that. The melancholy, blissful mixture of Americana, Folk and Indie melt Ship & Sail down for listeners, they want you gooey, they want your right on the verge of knowing, experiencing. They are the haunting of our minds - from loss, from laughter, from sheer emotion. They bring to the table something I haven’t heard in a while, something that (sometimes) only bedroom pop bands can get right - but, we’ll save that for later.

Beginning from a song-writing exercise, Colin Haggerty (Vocals & Guitar) began Ship & Sail’s first EP, Even From A Dying Tree, The Worry Bird Sings. It has now grown into something that even Haggerty did not expect at first. Mixed and mastered by Doug Gallo at AGL Sounds in New Jersey, From Seeds is, according to Haggerty, “the most important release I’ve ever had and has been a blast to play live.” Since the release Ship & Sail has shared the stage with the likes of John Nolan (Taking Back Sunday, Straylight Run) and Breathe Owl Breathe, while also performing as a four-piece, a soon to be six-piece, and will also be doing a three-piece acoustic-folk outfit. All the while continuing to play solo.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

From Seeds Tracklist:
1. Lynda
2. A Wish, A Lie
3. Fix
4. Windowsill
5. Bed to Stay
6. Hope
7. Call it Quits
8. Nails
9. Maggie
10. From Seeds



After the death of his Mother, Ship & Sail began comprising an album that moves slowly, irrigating every moment it encapsulates. From Seeds is the capsule in which they live - the album, an impressive full-length that breathes feeling and lyricism. Opening track, “Lynda” drops the listener immediately into the sound of a voice - familiar, but far away.

Haggerty’s sound is one that jostles against his instrumentals. The deep, gritty voice against a melodic, slow moving undertone creates an atmosphere that gives a sense of knowing. Ship & Sail want you to know what they’re thinking, because it’s things you’ve thought before, felt before, seen before. Love, longing, fear, anxiety - all topics that From Seeds touches upon, thoughtfully & fully aware. One track that really does this for myself, as a listener, is “Call It Quits.”

This album takes it’s time, and instinctively, it makes it feel hard to separate. I understand the necessity, the artistry, the wanting; however, 10-tracks that meditate around a similar sound that includes instrumentals, little variation in vocal performance, and lyricism (while beautiful poetic, and one of my favorite parts) it can feel lengthy and tired by completion. I wonder how I would feel about these tracks if, instead, they were layered throughout different compilations with tracks that bounced off of them, rather than swept them all together.

That being said, my favorite track is “A Wish, A Lie.” Arguably, the most upbeat track on the record, this track feels just right. The beat hits in the right spots with the lyrics, the twanging of the guitar makes it feel like a journey from beginning to end - and, that’s what it is. A journey, a moment of flurrying feelings. It felt sweet, sincere, and secure for a moment - as if the album could look upon it’s creator and say, “take a look, this is what we are!”

Again, the lyricism of this album is the strongest, hardest hitting aspect of From Seeds. The imagery, the methodology, the quickness of it all - like the severing of ties - hits hard. This album is for feeling, for being in the moment of feeling, and for appreciating how stinkin’ good a guitar sounds all by itself. Ship & Sail take their time to craft, to emote and be human. From Seeds will do the same, and for that I am thankful. It reminds me of rainy summer days where the ground is hot and steaming, and the sky is dark but, somehow, there is still pale yellow light all around you.

Moving forward, I am eager to see how Ship & Sail will sound with more members, with different tracks, ideas, emotions. This beginning is valid and important in solidifying a common ground between artist & listener, and now that we’re here - what’s next? I guess we’ll see! Until then, check out Ship & Sail’s social media links down below, and listen to From Seeds if you need a good album to feel things with!

Keep reading to find out more new & exciting stuff, and thanks for choosing The Hook!

Ship & Sail: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

**All biography information thanks to Brijana Bondy**

The Perls - The Age of Isolation Review

East Coast meets West Coast with Indie Pop duo The Perls, who quite literally created their debut EP from separate sides of the country - and honestly that alone is impressive. What's even more impressive is The Perls themselves, I mean honestly I'm losing my mind right now.

Composed of multi-instrumentalist Evan Linsey and singer-songwriter Kevin Hupp, The Perls followed up their single release in 2016 with their debut EP, The Age of Isolation, released on December 29th, 2017. Kevin and Evan produced the entire album themselves despite being on opposite sides of the country (Los Angeles and Boston, respectively). The fruition of this hard work and even harder situation is an EP that blends effortlessly, creating a space for listeners to get lost in and fall in love with.

Check out the tracklist below!

Zach Turcich / artwork

Zach Turcich / artwork

The Age of Isola Tracklist:
1. The Age of Isolation
2. Play Cool
3. Anymore
4.Videos (On TV)
5. HNY

 

 

 

 

This EP is impressive from start to finish. For the first time in a while I was able to just enjoy the listening experience. The Perls have meticulously put together a collection of tracks that effortlessly exist. From mixing/mastering to lyricism to instrumental output, The Perls feel like seasoned veterans when it comes to making music. 

With each track at a little over 2 minutes, and only one being over 3, this EP flies right by you while you're listening, making it an easy EP to put on over and over again. I typically go through every track and dissect them, but The Perls made my job really easy on this one. Every track is it's own persona that sits in the same circle as the rest. While I enjoyed every track vehemently, I also had two favorites that I'd like to focus on for their sound expansion and dynamic.

My absolute favorite track off of The Age of Isolation is "Play Cool," the track has a chorus so fire it made me almost weep the first time I heard it. The Perls have impressively incapsulated this indie/folk/pop hybrid that seeps out of every moment of listening. My second favorite track, and ironically enough it wouldn't load for me so it was one of the last tracks I was able to listen to, was "Videos (On TV)." The track is so gosh darn smooth, another chorus that makes me wanna explode with joy, and just an absolute charm to listen to.

Now, of course, just because these tracks are my favorites doesn't mean the other tracks aren't - let's be real here, this EP is one of the best, well recorded and performed EPs I've had the pleasure of reviewing in quite a long time. We'll definitely be following The Perls as they progress forward, and I sincerely can't wait to hear what they've got coming out next.

Until then, The Age of Isolation is a winner.

To follow these darling pals, check out their social media down below and support their cause, you won't regret this one!

The Perls: Facebook // Instagram

Shin Guard - Five Songs Review

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It's been a while since we've gotten some pop punk, Shin Guard is helping us change that, and we're all here for it. The Pittsburgh foursome are working hard to bring what the feel to the table in their latest release, Five Songs.

Five Songs is actually a four track EP released back in December, and Shin Guard have given themselves the title of 'Pittsburgh Sadness' so there's that. It's gonna be a lot of feelings, and some yelling, but if you're ready to throw down then we are, too.

Owen Traynor (vocals, guitar, songwriting, synthesis), Joe Bojarski (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Jake Yencik (bass, backing vocals), and Ryan Yester (drums) make up Shin Guard and have worked hard together to make leaps and bounds in improvement from their initial release, Leglike, back in April 2017. 

Check out their tracklist below to follow along!

Photography: Jake Yencik

Photography: Jake Yencik

Five Songs Tracklist:
1. Bemis Point
2. Corsages
3. You Turned Everything To Paper
4.Flubline


 

 

 

 

Opening track "Bemis Point" doesn't feel like the perfect fit for me, as a listener, for opening track. It shows off where the band's headspace is, but second track, "Corsages" holds a lot more weight for me, so I sort of wish the two were flip flopped as it would've made the listening experience better and more streamlined. "Corsages" also shows off a hell of a lot more of talent then "Bemis Point" which would've just aided the band in creating an EP that showed off their absolute best talent, track by track.

Five Songs definitely gets better as it goes on, as I really only stumbled on "Bemis Point" which felt out of place in comparison to the other three tracks that follow. "You Turned Everything To Paper" uses an interesting spoken word technique to open itself up, disenchanting the listener into melancholy. The lyricism is potent and good, and the instrumental synthetics that go into the track make it feel like a hybrid ambient bedroom track. Interesting stuff.

Closing track, "Flubline" is probably the most fitting with "Corsages" and the sound that the band feels the most proficient in. I wanted more tracks like this. Tracks that said a lot without having to say a lot - that spoke instrumentally to the listener, that used experiences that felt relatable to the emotion Shin Guard seemed to want to be going for. I think these four guys have a solid ground to work off of, and I'm interested to see where they're headed and what sound they decide to settle in on and hone.

Until then, you can keep up with Shin Guard down below with their social media links, and if you're ever in Pittsburgh, be sure to check them out!

Shin Guard: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr // YouTube

Holy Smoke! - Pipe Dream Review

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Out of Philadelphia, PA Holy Smoke! comes roaring in like a bat out of hell. The five piece is a gritty, smooth rolling stoner rock & roll group that's sure to awake the bad ass in all of us.

We're taking it back in time a little, and forgive us, we're just a tiny bit behind on the times - but August 7th, 2017, Holy Smoke! released their debut EP, Pipe Dream. The five track EP is an easy going, pretty standard debut for the band that showcases some of their core values: weed, rock & roll, and saving the world. Comprised of members David McNally (vocals), P. Michael Forte (bass), Aaron Morgan (drums), Brian Schmidt (guitar), and Justin Ulrich (guitar) you're sure to be slammed with lots of grunge-esque sounds.

Check out the tracklist below to keep up!

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Pipe Dream Tracklist:
1. Rinse & Repeat
2. Blue Dreams
3. Missing the Mark  
4. Golden Retriever
5. Asch Backwards

 

 

 

 

Pipe Dream is a pretty standard little EP. It isn't going to have any surprises as it relates to other genre based releases. As a debut EP, it showcases the band's sound in a meaningful way, one that allows for improvement but also feels solid in performance on all levels. None of the tracks particularly stood out to myself as I listened, as the EP works best as one solid play-through, I did wonder on some occasions what could make Holy Smoke! stand out better?

Instrumentally, the EP flip flops between a grittier grunge rock sound and stoner rock. Lyrically, this doesn't always match up as in some spots the record feels more rock & roll lyrically and emotionally. There are some really great moments in tracks that highlight that blues-y rock sound, a thick, strumming bass line and shredding guitar. 

The tracks hang around the 4-5 minute mark and really let you sink into the groove that Holy Smoke! want you to hang out in, and that was something I could really appreciate. Moving forward, I wonder how Holy Smoke! will use Pipe Dream as a jumping off point and place for reflection as a band. There are a lot of places they could go, and I know the city of Philadelphia would be ready for any of those places, so I'm excited to see which they decide on.

As always, thanks for reading, and check out Holy Smoke! on their social media to never miss an update of what they've got going on!

Holy Smoke!Facebook

Bucolic - Rope's Wing Review

We're really into dreampop sounds right now. Ok, we were never not into dreampop sounds, sue us. Bucolic is one of our most recent listens, and by recent we mean September - and we're sorry, we're trying to catch up!

Based out of New Jersey, Bucolic (aka Seth Carpenter) has been working hard in the tri-state area to share their sounds, and with play time in both Philly and NYC, Bucolic is already making stellar progress. The Debut EP, Rope's Wing is what we've got our eyes (and ears) on as of late. The dreamy, lo-fi EP is one that reminds me of afternoons in summer. It's the dead of winter, but listening to this EP has got me feeling warm all over.

Check out the tracklist below!

Rope's Wing Tracklist:
1. Daisy
2. Rope's Wing
3. Ice Bugs
4. Blissfully Unaware
5. Great Miles Old

 

 

 

 

At five tracks, Rope's Wing is on the longer side of EP's, but honestly I couldn't get enough of it. Each track it's own, unique journey in the splendor that is Bucolic or maybe what Bucolic wants you to be.

With an interwoven collection of sounds that bridge on the cusp of a blended genre, Bucolic uses electronic noise in a way to make music feel distorted - bridging on psychedelic in some tracks, or folktronic (the blend of folk and electronic). The overall vibe of lyricism and sound is indie, with hints of dreamy-pop in certain tracks. Of course, we don't want to get too bogged down in logistics, because that doesn't always matter so much.

Opening track "Daisy" lulls you into the EP and it's rhythmic beating. Carpenter's voice overlays itself and electronic noise to create the sensation of cascading sound. Title track "Rope's Wing" is a bit more upbeat, the electronic sound makes this song especially feel more psych-rock to me. Something interesting also stuck out to me: none of the tracks falling under 3.5 minutes, you can tell a lot of care and decision went into making the EP which makes for a more enjoyable listen.

"Ice Bugs" is a fantastic middle track, giving way for a bit of a different sound, a transition that takes hold for the latter half of the EP. The overall feel of the track is indie, with a catchy chord progression and a retrospective ideology in the lyrics. "Blissfully Unaware" stuck out to me because that opening sound is like one you'd hear from an old record player, the slight lapse in noise to create a really vintage vibe.

Closing tracks "Great Miles Old" is probably my favorite off of the EP. It brings together the entirety of Rope's Wing and reworks it. This album is one that feels poised, elegant and exciting to listen too. It's easy to put on after a long day and zone out too, or write toon (in our case). Either way, you should be checking this out - so do that.

In the meantime, check out Bucolic on their social media down below! As always thanks for reading!

Bucolic: Facebook // SoundCloud // YouTube

Burn The Louvre - We'll Be Just Fine Review

Design by:  Marah Montague

Design by: Marah Montague

Canada natives Burn the Louvre, up-and-coming indie rock band, have recently released their new EP, We’ll Be Just Fine. With a total of six songs and a striking album cover that draws the eye, We’ll Be Just Fine is Burn the Louvre’s second EP, and a great step forward onto the music scene. Their first EP, Post-Romance, was released in November 2014.

The new album has been featured on college radio stations across Canada such as Mohawk College & McMaster University in Ontario, Ryerson University in Toronto, University of Guelph, and Brock University in St. Catherine’s. Burn the Louvre has also been featured on several music blogs in their home turf, but now, The Hook Journal is giving them a warm American welcome. 

Check out their social media down below!

We'll Be Just Fine Tracklist:
1. Fast Cars & Porn Stars
2. Body Lies
3. Give Me Love
4. Simpler Places
5. Breakdown
6. We’ll Be Just Fine
 

 

 

 

We’ll Be Just Fine starts off with the track “Fast Cars & Porn Stars,” which begins with a guitar melody that immediately makes my ears perk up. The song introduces the vocals of frontman Jordan Speare. Speare’s voice has a similar cadence to other indie rock singers like John Gourley of Portugal. The Man, and Nicholas Petricca of WALK THE MOON. The songs on We’ll Be Just Fine sound like something similar to what a Philly native would hear on Radio 104.5. My personal favorites were “Give Me Love” and “Simpler Places.”

The lyrics to “Simpler Places” are all too relatable – not to call on an overused sentiment, but it does really apply here. The chorus of “Well I don’t wanna try living a lie for the rest of my days, for the rest of my days and the rest of my nights,” stood out to me the most. This song is one I would expect to find tucked away in the soundtrack of a coming-of-age indie movie; the lyrics tell the story of that sort of journey of finding yourself, of reaching a point in your life when you realize what you truly want and who you want to be.

“Simpler Places” has a music video out, which you can watch here!

An honorable mention goes to the song “Breakdown” for its instrumentals. Burn the Louvre is certainly a band to watch out for, and We’ll Be Just Fine is worth a listen. Download the EP now and be sure to follow Burn the Louvre for more updates!

Burn the Louvre: Facebook // Instagram // YouTube // Twitter

Fox Hollow - The Dream Reel Review

NY locals, Fox Hollow, have been very busy this year - and before we end 2017, we're revisiting their April release of The Dream Reel. The 4-track EP is a glam rock tribute to the you we're all thinking about when we think about someone else. An indie, smooth moving EP this is definitely one you're going to want to put on while we whittle away at the end of the year.

Fox Hollow is comprised of memebers Michael Themistocleous (Vocals/Guitar), Joseph Oliveto (Guitar), Dan DeLucia (Bass), Chris Swift (Drums), and let's not forget Lyle the Corgi (Vocals). The EP was recorded and mixed by Ryan Meyers in Syosset, NY. With an emphasis on instrumental performance, the vocal feels secondary as you move through this album, but we'll get to that later. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Brian Parisi

Artwork: Brian Parisi

The Dream Reel Tracklist:
1. The Dream Reel
2. June
3. Tennessee Whiskey
4. Strangers to Ourselves

 

 

 

 

 

Opening title track is going to introduce you to Fox Hollow with poise & grace. You've got a band that borders on pop rock, that groovy movement that bands like Medusa's Disco or Adventure Lost are also participating in. "The Dream Reel" drops listeners into the world of Fox Hollow, one in which you're always talking to someone else, yearning to get lost alongside them - good or bad. The rest of the album isn't going to disappoint, it feels similar in sound and lyrical content, but that makes The Dream Reel a solid consistent listen. As a listener I do wonder what else is in Fox Hollow's bag of tricks that isn't showcased here on the EP, but that's what 2018 is for, right!?

Closing track 'Strangers to Ourselves' is a 7 minute ode that is the culmination of Fox Hollow's goal. The lyricism on this track especially stood out to me in poetics and meaning. This track is one that I feel comes to you at a point when you need to hear it - and you want to bathe in all 7 minutes of it. Consider The Dream Reel Hook Approved. So check out The Dream Reel & Fox Hollow because we're gonna be following them right into 2018.

For more on Fox Hollow & The Dream Reel, check out their social media down below to never miss a beat!

Fox Hollow: Facebook // Bandcamp

Dizzy Bats - I Don't Live Here Anymore Review

Die-hard fans of pop punk are not always easily swayed by underground bands of the like. Though the genre is known for being formulated, it is not often that bands will take a beloved genre, make it sound fresh and exciting, while paying homage to those who paved the way before them.  That’s why pop punk listeners need to know about New York-based band, Dizzy Bats. 

Dizzy Bats are a pop punk band from New York CIty that formed in the summer of 2011. As is evident by their music, they are inspired by the pop punk movement of the 90’s and early 2000’s, especially channeling bands such as Bayside, Alkaline Trio and Weezer.  Dizzy Bats’ latest EP and fifth studio release, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, was released on September 19, 2017 with three tracks embodying the epitome of what core pop punk fans love about the genre.  

Besides deep-seated roots in early millennia pop punk, the band is in-tune to keeping their sound extremely new, having tracked the album with Jon Markson of math punk pioneers, Such Gold. Jon Markson’s perspective of playing punk is evident in the production of this album, and Dizzy Bats’ keen ear for writing pop punk songs make this three-track EP a must-listen.

Check out the tracklist below!
 

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I Don’t Live Here Anymore Tracklist:
1. I’m Listening
2. Scared
3. I Don’t Live Here Anymore

 

 

 

 

 

Instantly on the first track “I’m Listening,” the lead guitar hooks you in with a guitar riff that simply sings, supported by an exceptionally strong rhythm section. Notably, strong melodic guitar leads are the glue that holds each track together, tastefully strewn throughout the framework the instrumentation for each song. The tones on this record are crunchy, and I’m especially loving how bright the harmonics on the leads in “Scared” are. The bass is twangy and groovy, and sometimes given the spotlight which is an expert move in arrangement. The drums punctuate each verse and chorus perfectly, with flashiness at the right moments in each song.

It is uncertain if the similarity in vocal performance is intentional, but the lead vocals and harmonies are stylistically reminiscent of Anthony Ranieri’s melodies and Rivers Cuomo’s dynamics- however, the tonal qualities of Connor Frost are completely unique, and are an important component of the uniqueness of Dizzy Bats’ sound.  The vibe of the EP takes a complete switch on the last track as the credits roll on title track “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and veers off into a somber track with some Midwestern-Emo flair in the outro. Instrumentally it, seems like a sharp left turn at first, but when considering the thematics of the EP, it is the perfect closer.  

Though the brightness of the instrumentation itself would lend itself to peppy lyrics, the lyrical themes are nothing but bright. Dizzy Bats explore darker themes on I Don’t Live Here Anymore, perhaps as a result of the EP being written and arranged around the 2016 US presidential election. “I’m Listening” is told in the perspective of someone who is telling the story of a friend dealing with mental illness, assuring them they can seek comfort and confide in the narrator.  The following track “Scared” aims to instill the familiarity of simply that- the feeling of your veins running rife with fear- while sung in the simplest, most relatable terms.  “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” is a story about identity, that stirs a feeling of wishfulness and longing for a sense of self; a better state of living.

Music fans who truly love pop punk need to hear I Don’t Live Here Anymore by Dizzy Bats. Simply put, it’s exceptionally well-written punk music with the pop punk sensibility that only bands such as themselves can pull off.  It’s anthemic, it’s meaningful and it just sounds really dang good. Especially with production credits noting a member of Such Gold, how can you pass this record up? 

Be sure to stay up-to-date with Dizzy Bats and upcoming show dates by following them on their social media down below! 

Dizzy Bats: Facebook