local

What Music Means To Me: Evan Balikos

Evan has been a good friend of mine since the days of Tumblr (hah). We bonded over our mutual love of music & writing, and have continued to remain friends since! Evan is an avid music listener, blogger, journalist & member of his college radio station! We had to ask him what music meant to him, and in return he gave us a poem interpreting the questions!

Check it out below!

Evan Balikos (Writer/Music Listener):

press play

It’s not magic but it’s cosmic

what can happen when our heads

connect to heads that are empty

pitchers waiting for sugar water

How they plead for meaning

How they fly across 10,000 globes

sharing their secrets lightning up the skies

cracking a ceiling they could never see in silence

And the words that drive those heads

up tall mountains born from fertile soil

are banners that demand to be hung from the sun

These sirens are unique Gods

They squeeze us into boxes or catapult us into bliss

their voices bind our eardrums to their lips

Never would we dare to try and stop them

We allow stringed weapons to rock us into submission

We are happily bending forward to an anthem

Demanding beats and kicks and strums and licks

that throws bodies into bodies and hands into hearts

Stirring the air into a twister of footwork

Creating colored effigies from ponderous banality

melting and buzzing and glowing all the time

They are able to feel and heal us by holding us in song

We bathe in earthquakes and headaches and mistakes of youth

We stand tall as an invulnerable world shakes within us

We spectate a battle of energy with no end in sight

And so it stands and so it remains

pressing play releases the army

pressing pause halts the war

Evan currently recommends Miami, FL locals - Palomino Blond.

What Music Means To Me: Bobby Mahoney

Photographer: Mark Ashkinos

Photographer: Mark Ashkinos

Bobby Mahoney of Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son has been an incredible friend, musician, and supporter of The Hook. As a person with connections, Bobby has worked super hard to get to where he is, and we’ve always admired his work as a musician & peer. We just had to get into his brain a little about what music meant to him, so check it out below!

Bobby Mahoney (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

“Music is expression, at its simplest form. Art in general is the product of humans trying to make sense of the world around them, with whatever talents they are born with/learn. Visual arts, prose, poetry, lyrics, music, etc. the list is endless- are all just the release of our personal experiences and point of view. If someone somewhere called it art at some point, then that's what it is.

Some of my earliest memories of music are from listening to cassettes with my parents on long car drives. Things like the Grateful Dead, Meatloaf, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and AC/DC were some of my favorites as a kid. Songwriting and playing guitar became an obsession for me, starting at age 10. I began teaching myself on my mother’s old nylon-string that my Pop-Pop brought over at my request. It took me many years of trial and error to figure out.

I’ve played many not-good shows, and written many not-good songs, and I’m sure they all aren’t behind me either, but as you practice and develop- you improve. Every experience, good or bad, shapes your skills and your artistic output. I am thankful for every opportunity I have had to perform or create music because it has all shaped me as an artist. When I was younger, I was told to play every show like you were playing Madison Square Garden- give it your all every time. I try to live by that every night.

They don’t lie when they say the music industry is bullshit. It really is. It's a necessary evil, but at the end of the day, its 99% smoke and mirrors and is currently a complete wasteland, and no one knows what they are doing. It all needs to be rebuilt. That being said, all the crap is worth the 20 mins/hour/whatever our set length is. That release of playing the guitar, and singing our songs is the best feeling I have ever experienced, so we deal with all the “Spinal Tap” shit in order to play our music.

Music should be an accessible art form for everyone. Full stop. Not everyone has to be insane enough to try to make a living with it, but everyone should have music in their life in some capacity. Playing music alone in your room, or playing in a band full time- it's all the same. It is just artistic expression packaged differently. Go pick up and instrument or write a song. I hope music becomes more accessible regardless of social class because I realize growing up in a well-off town, I had access to music in school, and a lot of not-well off schools didn’t. We need to check our privilege and do more to make sure ANYONE can make music if they want to.

If playing it isn’t your thing, then the experience of going to a live show is life-changing, and sometimes even life-saving, and I encourage anyone I can to go see new music outside your comfort zone. You never know when you might hear your new favorite song or band. Some of my favorite local artists at the moment: The Vaughns, Natalie Farrell, The Burns, Blue Vervain, Chris Rockwell, Levy & The Oaks, Idle Wave, Hit Like A Girl, Lowlight, Matty Carlock, and Bulletproof Belv. Hard working people, making music for the right reasons. There are countless others too in the NJ/NY/PA area. So much good music in the world today- it is a constant inspiration.

Music is a soundtrack to life. Creating music and sharing music helps add to your soundtrack, as well as other people’s, which inherently makes the world a better place- in my opinion. I am not sure how much of this is just me ranting, but thats what music means to me.”

Currently, Bobby is listening to NJ Local, The Vaughns. Check out their most recent cover “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” down below!

What Music Means To Me: Anna Ladd

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

An art maker and creative peer, Anna Ladd does it all. Whether it’s visual art, writing, making podcasts, or being a good human being - she’s got it covered. Of course, sometimes that isn’t always what we feel on the inside, and Anna is no stranger to that. After following her through social media outlets, and rare sightings (one in particular with a dog), Anna seemed like the type of person I wanted to ask questions about - especially what music meant to her, so I did!

Check it out below!

Anna Ladd (Artist/Creator):

Like most EmOtIoNaL suburban youths, I grew up listening to pop punk music and dreaming about fronting a band on tour. But I wasn’t very good at the main skills someone needs to write a song: singing and playing an instrument. So, I figured I was doomed to watch from the sidelines. By high school, I had resigned myself to taking pictures at shows, hoping someone might bring me on the road when I was old enough.

I put out my first record nearly five years ago, when I was 20. I was at art school, and when you’re at art school, you’re not allowed to suck at art. And I really needed a creative hobby that I could suck at, so I wrote some songs. It was weird to engage with the creative process like this – without thinking about what I was doing, without learning how to be good first, or without really even trying to be good at all. It was also out of character for me to adamantly want to perform this thing I wasn’t very good at, in public, where everyone could see. But for some reason, this was the first place I felt comfortable being a little bad.

Visual art was a different case for me – the post-graduate depressive hole didn’t lend itself to making work, or really even having ideas for work. If I made something that sucked, then I must also suck, and will probably suck forever. I also stopped listening to music. I couldn’t tell you what records came out in 2017. But through this otherwise creatively sterile period of my life, I kept writing songs.

They weren’t a life-or-death reflection of all my shortcomings, or something I felt a pressure to connect to like I did when I was 15. They were just some songs, that were kind of bad, about kind of boring feelings, about being kind of boring. They carried no weight. And they were my entry point back into making my “real” work – even though I consider my music to be an important part of my creative practice now, not just adjacent to it. My whole perspective on making things follows this mantra now – I’d rather be prolific and kinda bad than never make any work at all.”

Anna is currently listening to Magic Gone by Scranton, PA local, Petal. Check out the album streaming below!

Emily's Top 5 Songs For Kissing (Right Now)

It’s no secret that, sometimes, people like to kiss and listen to music. It’s even better when the person you’re kissing likes the music you’re kissing to, but how do you guarantee that mid-pause “wow, this playlist is great” validation you’ve been searching for?

Look no further!

We’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile 5 songs to add to your Makeout Playlist that are sure to make your boo (or not so boo) go, “wow, let’s kiss even more!” Of course, this list is yours to mix and match with, because we couldn’t give away all of our secrets now can we?

Check it out!

Redbone - Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino has evolved in many ways since his debut as the musical counterpart of Donald Glover. With his first studio album, Camp, Gambino rocketed into stardom with angry, bent out of shape tracks like “Heartbeat” & “Bonfire.” From there, Because The Internet introduced us to Gambino’s more ethereal side - the side that samples tracks and soothes, tracks like “3005” and “IV. Sweatpants.” In 2016, after 3 years without releasing anything substantial and threatening the end of the Childish Gambino era, Awaken, My Love! was released with a mixed bag of reviews. However, “Redbone” was one of the two featured tracks that Gambino released before the album dropped - an instant classic. With vibes reminiscent of funk, jazz and blues, Gambino hit’s on his ability to smooth over every syllable, every word. It’s sexy, and you can’t deny that - so “Redbone” makes it onto our makeout list because not only will your kissing partner think you’re suave af, who doesn’t want to makeout to this shit?


The Sun - Myd
Have you ever been sitting there, watching the sun set with your boo on the beach thinking, “damn, I really wish we had the perfect song to set the mood.” Well, Myd has provided us with the perfect kissing at dusk song, and aptly named “The Sun” is a groovy, indie little jam that pulls on retro European funk & disco vibes. The french native, Quentin Lepoutre, began their journey in 2008 primarily as a sound engineer. With EP releases happening promptly every two years beginning in 2011, Myd’s latest release, All Inclusive, is the best by far. “The Sun” is one of my favorites off of the release, and has been tested and proven as a great late afternoon, we’re both sweating and at the beach kind of song.


i don’t want to say too much - sagun
Maybe you’re looking for something with a lot less words and a lot more instrumental sounds. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Late night hook up with that boo who’s been incessantly liking your Instagram pics? This slow rolling, careful song is perfect for when things are better when they’re quiet - just without the silence that is. “i don’t want to say too much” is one of many from nepal native sagun. The producer and artist is aptly known for their instrumental work, but they have been known to do remixes and collaborations with other artists. While I specifically love this track for the ukulele chords that hold it down, the sound of water that keeps the tempo, and the gentle knocking - you could choose really any of sagun’s works to add to your makeout playlist.


Stolen Dance - Milky Chance
Of course I can’t forget all of you lucky fucks in relationships. Milky Chance is one of my favorite bands in the world, and one time I got to watch them play acoustic outside of Reading Terminal Market on the corner of 12th and Filbert here in Philly - but, I digress. “Stolen Dance” is the first single the German group ever put out in April 2013. The folky, indie vibes it gives off is timeless, though. I choose Stolen Dance because, lyrically, it is meaningful. The song lends itself perfectly to showing that person you like/love/care for that you really do like/love/care for them - especially when kissing.


I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend - girl in red
19 year old Norwegian DIY legend, girl in red has taken streaming by storm in the past year. With all of her music produced in her bedroom, she has begun performing festivals in Europe and taking the internet by storm. This song is steamy, guttural, and envelopes everything I love about DIY music.


Well, there ya have it. 5 songs you could sneak into your Makeout Playlist to see how they go - and if you don’t have a Makeout Playlist, then they’re just good songs to listen to. Let us know how they work out, drop us a comment or a message on any of our social media!

Stay tuned for more playlists coming in the future!

H O N O R A B L E ~ M E N T I O N S
OFTEN - THE WEEKND
ELECTRIC FEEL - MGMT
GOOEY - GLASS ANIMALS
GOODIE BAG - STILL WOOZY
YOU - MK.GEE
SUNNN - GOTH BABE
HER - MAJID JORDAN

* all music listed on this playlist has been personally tested for it’s credibility and accessibility for being made out to *