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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

Brother Martin - Led-Son Review

Photo:  Laura Jane Brubake

Photo:  Laura Jane Brubake

Jazz Fusion meets Indie Pop in Brother Martin's debut EP, Led-Son. The five track EP is a sweetheart of a release, one that will capture your heart from the moment you turn it on, so we suggest you turn that on.

With Led-Son being released back in January, the project includes Maria Mirenzi (vocals, baritone saxophone), Dan Espie (keyboard, vocals) , Jacob Kelberman (guitar), Jon Gruver (bass), and Austin Wagner (drums). Tracks 1-4 were recorded/mixed by Luke Shefski of Shefski Productions, and "Martin" was recorded/mastered live at Rittenhouse Soundworks by Michael Cumming, audio engineer. All of this hard work and effort has created an EP that often speaks for itself, whether that be in lyricism, performance, instrumentalism, or style. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Margot Gatenby

Artwork: Margot Gatenby

Led-Son Tracklist:
1. Led-Son    
2. Describing Time
3. On Top of a Mountain
4. For Tomorrow
5. Martin

 

 

 

 

Opening title track is one that extends an open hand to the listener, it says "come in, you're safe here," and that is the only way I can explain my experience listening to Led-Son by Brother Martin. The entire EP is witty, light, soft and easy to listen to. Not once did I feel off put by any track on the EP, and I really dug Brother Martin's ability to change up their range and style while still staying in a sound vein that felt familiar and productive.

"Describing Time" slows us down from opening track "Led-Son" and let's you sink into the warmth that is Brother Martin. The use of the saxophone to follow the vocals is smart, well placed, and quite frankly makes me melt a little every time I listen to it. "On Top Of A Mountain" is a fantastic little diddy that brings back a euphoric joy and carelessness to Led-Son that makes it feel ethereal, thank you piano.

"For Tomorrow" dials down the theatrics and brings you back into orbit, and closing track "Martin" sweeps up the whole experience that Led-Son was and packs it back up neatly where it came from. This sweet lil EP knows exactly what it's doing the whole way through, and it is a truly impressive put out for Brother Martin, seeing as the debut EP feels solid and put together. 

Honestly, this is just some good jams to simmer out too, and we recommend you do so. To follow Brother Martin and what they're up to, we've got their social media down below so you don't miss a single moment!

Brother Martin: Facebook // Instagram // Website

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

My Home is the Sea - Self Titled Review

March has begun, and we're finally catching up. Today on our radar is Philadelphia's own My Home is the Sea, a bedroom pop duo that exists in the sub-reality of your consciousness - and goddamnit we're in love. The dreamy duo consists of Marc Neibauer and Natalie Wimberg, the masterminds behind the June release of their self-titled EP.

The five track EP is a stellar beginning for the group, and I can't stop listening. While the release is nearly a year old, I was most impressed by the variety of electronic techniques and sounds the group used to create it. These techniques really hold up the EP on a higher standard and make it feel flexible in it's fluctuation in ideology and sound.

Check out the tracklist below!

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Self Titled Tracklist:
1. Chase Something
2. Do As You're Told
3. No One's Daughter
4. Fuse  
5. Passenger

 

 

 

 

Of course, an EP like this takes more than just two characters to create brilliance, and luckily for Wimberg and Neibauer they had some help thanks to Chiemena Ukazim (guitar, solos "Fuse" and "Passenger"), and Robert Rouse (drums "Fuse" and "Passenger"). Of course, the two are incredibly impressive on their own, with a multitude of vocal performance and instrumental backing between them, you're sure to be impressed by this Self Titled EP.

Our favorite track off of My Home is the Sea is "No One's Daughter" because it really capitalizes on the sound that My Home is the Sea seems to be going for. A healthy dose between anthemic and ethereal - bedroom pop vs. pop rock. However, it is interesting to note that the EP does slowly dissolve from one being into another from first track to last, with "No One's Daughter" the middle of the sound sandwich. Tracks 1 & 2 are defined more in areas of shoegaze, bedroom pop. while 4 & 5 descend into that more anthemic rock pop we mentioned earlier. 

Either way, for a debut EP this is pretty stellar work. I mean, we're impressed. And sure, we sometimes are easily impressed, but this stuff is good so maybe you should check it out and hear it for yourselves! That's the only real way to gauge, so do that, we've got it streaming below for you!

As always, thanks for reading and definitely check out My Home is the Sea and pray they put something new out soon (we sure are). Until then, keep up with them via their social media down below!

My Home is the Sea: Facebook

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

Scooter Brothers - Lookin' Good! Review

Monmouth County seems to be a breeding ground for unique alternative rock bands. It is incredibly often I find myself finding out about a number of rock outfits that fit the mold of groovy, savvy rock bands akin to many groups that play Asbury Park. And after checking out their albums, I wonder to myself: why haven’t I seen this band around Asbury?! That probably speaks to the clique problem in that scene, but I digress - people who love the alternative rock camaraderie of Asbury bands but want something new should be listening to Manalapan-based band Scooter Brothers, specifically their album Lookin’ Good!

Lookin’ Good!
 is an energetic romp carried by four alternative rock tracks that keep you fully engaged and bobbing your head. Scooter Brothers released the EP on September 29, 2017 with the promise that half of the sales from their album would be donated to UNICEF’s Hurricane Maria relief fund for Puerto Rico. Listeners already had more than one reason to pick up this album, but that’s a truly wonderful added incentive to do so.

We've got the tracklist down below for you to follow along!

Lookin' Good! Tracklist:
1. No Diane
2. Beatch Boys
3. Mirror Me
4. Train Ride

 








Instrumentally, listeners will enjoy the nod to surf rock on the first two tracks “No Diane” and “Beatch Boys” (not a typo).  The last two tracks dig into a bit more of a rock n’ roll sound, with the guitars not only holding down melody but adding spacey auxiliary sounds by way of screaming leads and tonalities reminiscent of shoe-gaze. The bass and drums hold down the rhythm section, with drum fills and bass lines that contribute well to the sound the band is achieving as a whole. What I love about “Train Ride” is the occasional piano and organ parts that rear their heads to add depth to the track.

What stood out to me were the creative lyrics on each song, each sharing specific vignettes told by the lyricist while leaving interpretation completely open to the listener. “Mirror Me” seemingly shares the story of a relationship between two people who feel bound by their ties to each other and society’s expectations of their individual existences, though it could mean anything. I feel it is so important to note how hilarious “No Diane” is lyrically, a story about how the singer was told by a ghost that the woman he is destined to marry is named ‘Diane.’ At the song’s peak, the instruments peel back the volume only for the vocalist to admit in all his years of existing, there is no way this could be true unless someone wants to introduce him to a twenty-something year old woman named Diane; he hasn’t found her.

Anyone who is looking for a diverse alternative rock album should check out Scooter Brothers’ Lookin’ Good!, available now on Bandcamp. The EP is sonically engaging and incredibly creative.  Be sure to follow Scooter Brothers on their social media down below to stay up-to-date on future shows!

Scooter Brothers: Facebook // Twitter

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