rock

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

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**

Halogens - Happy Hour Review

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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

Hoser - Nosebleeder Review

Our Philadelphia favorites, Hoser, have drudged through those winter blues with a nice little two track EP, and we feel blessed. Nosebleeder was released on February 5th, so we may be late to the party, but we're staying for the celebration.

The 2-track EP was recorded with Mike Britt at the bins, and mastered by Troy Glessner at Specter Studios. According to the band, after their brief hiatus, the EP "was recorded very quickly last summer while in the midst of booking our first national tour. So we pretty much had a gun to our head to finish by August. It was a very crazy insane summer. We finished recording, toured, got home, and than did much needed work in post on the EP. So technically the EP was released on tour but it was a terrible version and we pulled it the day we got home. So we like to think that it was a demo and this is the real release. As you can tell we have gotten heavier and more dynamic. We have added our black/death metal love into the music on Nosebleeder. Kensington and Somerset is about the ongoing struggle of staying clean and the terrible cycle of relapse and lose of hope. I wrote that song when I was really young like 19 or 20. I am and most of Hoser are recovering Heroin Addicts, so the song means a lot to us. We are really happy to finally have a good recording of it, and finally have it out in the world."

Check out the tracklist down below!

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Nosebleeder Tracklist:
1. Nosebleeder
2. Kensington & Somerset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In true Hoser form, the EP is a gritty, rock & roll saga that feels much longer and more intense than just two tracks. While the tempo is fast paced, it doesn’t feel unwarranted. I actually really enjoy this harder Hoser, with an opening track that has an intro to make you shake in your boots.

Their endearment for noisy black metal is prominent in this EP, and we’re perfectly fine with it - opening track “Nosebleeder” is going to give you what you may have been yearning in previous EP’s with Hoser; constantly teetering on the edge of rock & punk.

Check it out below!

“Kensington & Somerset” revives a more European style Punk that, while differing from our old favorites, keeps Hoser right on track with what they want & love about making music. While it’s extremely short, it closes the EP in a potent & meaningful way! This EP is one you don’t want to miss, and while we’ve been sitting on it, you definitely shouldn’t!

You can check out Hoser on their social media down below to keep up with them in the meantime. Otherwise, stream their music above on their bandcamp!

Hoser: Facebook // Instagram

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

Copley Woods - Sightings Review

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On January 12, 2018, I ventured to the beloved DIY venue Boontunes on a rainy night in Boonton, New Jersey to see some local music.  While the weather was gloomy, it was a night that many from the scene gathered together for to support Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), a medical humanitarian organization. When the show commenced, a four-piece post-hardcore band named Copley Woods took the stage. Their performance was extremely hard-hitting and emotionally-driven, captivating the show-goers who showed up early and were lucky enough to catch them. I was taken by surprise when the vocalist, Jake, mentioned that this was their first show.

With a promising future ahead of them, Copley Woods are sure to win over listeners of emo and post-hardcore with their EP, Sightings.

Copley Woods started off the new year by dropping Sightings on Bandcamp New Year’s Day. Sightings is a fast-paced post-hardcore album influenced by early emo bands, while drawing parallels to newer post-hardcore bands (I personally heard some semblance of Touche Amore). With fervent, chaotic guitars and fervent vocal performances, this album is the epitome of post-hardcore that is true to the genre while offering a fresh new sound.  

Check out their tracklist below!

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Sightings Tracklist:
1. Mirage  
2. Haunted   
3. Emotion Engine
4. Intruders    
5. Always There

 

 

 

 

The album begins with the chaotic wrecking ball that is “Mirage;” it immediately pumps you up from the moment you press play.

It’s rhythmically interesting, and flows well. The words sung in “Mirage” are a stark warning of our earth crumbling due to the effects of harsh climate change from global warming. As the track slows to a driving drum beat to make way for an ambient guitar lead, nicely sung vocals and the following track, “Haunted.” On track two, the chaos continues with even more visceral relentlessness. Notably, the production on the vocals is dirty and distorted, which I love - it adds to the song’s overall mood.  

Sightings’ halfway point is marked by a melancholy but soothing mostly-instrumental track aptly titled “Emotion Engine.” It showcases that Copley Woods is not just a one-trick pony, and is a nice intermission in the midst of discord and disarray.  While being the longest track, it progresses well and never drags.  The music crescendos towards the track’s climax, where the vocals return to deliver some feelsy lyrics.  

Track four “Intruders” is moody and dark, with slightly less noise, but just as powerful.  It tells the story of having an encounter with an alien, lyrically depicting a person who firmly believes “I know what I saw”. I especially loved the vocal production on “Intruders” and thought the stacked vocals were a great fit for the track. To me, the tone colors in this song are reminiscent of 90’s alt-rock, but mesh well within the context of Copley Wood’s sound.

The final song, “Always There”, feels like a nod towards 00’s hardcore and is a strong finale before the album concludes. With lyrics surrounding the haunting feeling of anxiety, it ties into the albums’ various contextual themes nicely, especially the visual theme of the album art- the suspicion that extraterrestrial beings are watching us. 

Copley Woods is sure to see much success with their EP, Sightings.  With a solid first offering in Sightings, anyone is sure to enjoy the attention to songwriting, lyrical content, song structure and dynamics. Copley Wood’s album showcases musicianship that surely proves they have the makings for longevity. Sightings is a must-listen, and if you regularly spin emo/post hardcore- music, it’s going to be hard to stop listening.  

As always, thanks for reading and check out Copley Woods' social media to never miss an update below!

Copley Woods: Facebook // Bandcamp

American Lions - Serf Rock Review

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

New Brunswick sweethearts, American Lions, have been pretty consistently shredding their scene for the past few years. With an output of a release a year, the band is an impressive contender in the tri-state area, and their latest release, Serf Rock, is no exception to that standard!

The 14-track giant of an LP is disturbingly impressive and punctual in all aspects. With each track at a little over two minutes, Serf Rock is an easy listening while it may seem daunting at first glance. The album was Produced/Mixed/Mastered by Sam Pura (TSSF/Basement/Hundredth) at The Panda Studios, and resonates fondly from the places it stems from - basements, New Brunswick, and DIY culture.

The album debuted on February 2nd at a house show in the band's show house, Mount Moon. The sold out show was legendary, according to our sources (uh, the internet), and we're bummed we missed it. Good thing we can check out this bad boy on Bandcamp, though, (as well as other streaming platforms) and so should you!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Tyler Way

Artwork: Tyler Way

Serf Rock Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day
2. Ruby Red
3. One Two Plus Five
4. Black Spot
5. Super Glued
6. Serf Rock
7. Easy
8. Can't Wait 
9. Angry Little Man
10. Oh No
11. No Wine
12. Sophia Bleeds
13. Millions N' More
14. So Glad You're Mine

This album is a solid addition to American Lions' current discography, and marks growth for the typically indie rock/punk rock fusion. Serf Rock doesn't ever take itself too seriously, and while previous American Lions releases reminded me of other NB greats like Semiotics or Asbury Park pals Halogens, Serf Rock took a hard swing outside of their norm - and it's working. 

The brash instrumental style, while poised, is also heavy hitting and emotional. The debut LP gave the band an opportunity to slow things down, to achieve a different sound than before. In this way, I'm excited about American Lions. While they remain the same with tracks like "Ruby Red," they also move forward in tracks like "One Two Plus Five." In a world where basements can sound the same in whichever city you're watching and listening in, it has become a bands task to find out a way around that.

For me this album seamlessly streamlined itself. Each track picks up where the last left off, making Serf Rock a super easy listen. I really enjoyed the essence of different genres that the group picks up in different instances, whether that be instrumentally or vocally. Hints of pop punk, indie pop, DIY emo and punk rock would all be genres I'd be willing to use for this banger of an album. Tracks really separate themselves from the rest of the album, and American Lions seemingly feel very thoughtful in their engineering of an album's tracklist. 

Overall, this shit is tight as fuck and you should check it out. This group of dudes have worked their butts off to get where they are, and if you're in DIY you know how much work that is. Serf Rock is a debut album worth your time, get emotionally attached to it, make your Mom listen to it, eat dinner while listening to it, whatever it is, just check it out.

You can thank us later.

As always, check out American Lions on social media, they're constantly hosting and playing shows, so if you can get to one you should consider that too. Thanks for reading, and support these good New Brunswick pals!

American Lions: Instagram // Facebook

Something Like A Monument - Silhouettes Review

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Psychedelic soul is something we can get behind, and Something Like A Monument are doing it just the way we like it.

The Philadelphia foursome is a force to be reckoned with thanks to their latest release, Silhouettes. The five track EP is their first output since 2014, and while it's been a long time coming, those years having given S.L.A.M. something to brag about - an EP that not only shows off their mind numbingly incredible talent, but also proves that some things do get better with age. Two years, three recording studios, and ten tracks later, Silhouettes is the first of two five-track EPs the band has planned for the next year, and gosh darn it, we are excited. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

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Silhouette Tracklist:
1. Crimson Smoke
2. Tree of Doubt
3. B.L.T.B.  
4. Hours Believe
5. The Fawn

 

 

 

 

I have been complaining for a little while now that often bands who tout such a heavy and vintage genre like 'psychedelic' often have a habit of falling into a space that can feel overused or tired. Something Like A Monument have avoided this by incorporating the fundamentals of soul and psychedelic in their instrumental rhythm and melody, while their lyricism and vocal performance often hinges on a more new age indie rock - and this feels exciting in Silhouettes.

Just imagine Brendon Urie sang for Queens of the Stone Age and you've got S.L.A.M.

Opening track "Crimson Smoke" persuades the listener into the EP with the familiar vibration, the echoing voice of singer Jamie Shemanski. The twanging guitar, distorted and fuzzy from Jeff Lucci, while the constant nature of the bass, thanks to Don Custer, keeps time. The heaviness of the drums feels like the perfect amount of edge fueled by Josh Aptner. This track is only the gateway into the spiraling trip that Silhouettes makes.

"Tree Of Doubt" hits a bit heavier, flexing on "Crimson Smoke" with a vigor and prowess that pushes the EP forward. This track is one of my favorites, the culmination of sound makes the listening experience plain old enjoyable. I want to drive along a tree lined road in warm weather, windows down to this song. Six minute long giant, "B.L.T.B." is a great transitionary track, bringing it back down from the high before, while it pushes the listener vocally with a more rock & roll vibe, it fits in nicely on the EP.

"Hours Believe" and "The Fawn" close the EP out, and I don't want to say I feel a little disappointed by them, but I do. As two closing tracks, the EP felt front heavy listening wise. While these tracks excel in technique and S.L.A.M.'s typical bravado, they just feel a bit underwhelming in comparison to the tracks before them. I wonder if this could be resolved by a better EP tracklist setup, or if the EP is too long for it's own good. Obviously Silhouettes comes from a pair of EP releases, so I guess I'd be interested in hearing the follow-up EP to see if it exhibits the same problem or if this is simply just a calculative error in listing.

Either way, this EP has been on my mind for weeks. Let's get it on your mind, too. Check out Something Like A Monument via their social media links down below to never miss an update, and tune in for their next release hopefully sometime soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L.A.M: Twitter // Instagram // Facebook