music to be heard

What Music Means To Me: Ky O'Connor

Core member of local band, Steve., Ky O’Conner has been apart of the music scene for as long as I can remember. An advocate for marginalized groups, and a human who asks tough questions, I’ve always admired them as someone who has no fear in speaking their mind and inciting important change. Especially in local DIY scenes in which we still harbor people who have done bad things, or those who have not been confronted about extremely dangerous topics & issues including sexual assault, and white privilege. They were one of the first that came to mind when this project was incepted, and I’ve never been more excited to read why someone was into music than Ky!

Check out what they had to say down below!

Ky (Musician/Advocate):

”Music helps me speak. I'm a very open person, and I feel my music reflects that. I like to tell my stories in ways that convey emotion, which is why I think I gravitated towards playing punk rock. Punk, to me, is unfiltered passion. Through music I found a voice that's loud and unapologetic. I listen to all kinds of music, so it's hard to define what shapes my creativity. I can pull apart any one of my songs and find subtle nods to the vocal melodies of Tammi Terrell, or the overall wordiness of my lyrics, something that I stole from Elvis Costello. I'm typically a first draft kind of person. I'm a big fan of letting whatever comes out be the entire song, so sometimes they're short, sometimes they're even shorter - I don't really care. I’m not a great songwriter. I think that is reflected in what I create, and I’m totally fine with being mediocre.

I love hearing anything new. When I find a new artist’s music, I listen for the rhythm, and if I like it enough, I'll come back to it and focus more on the lyrics if there are any. Both elements of a song exist to tell the story and that's the part that I really want to find. Through the vast community of DIY across the country I've found friends that I love as people and as artists. We share stories that bring us closer, build friendships outside of shows, and in DIY establishing out of state contacts is necessary if you want to keep going. The community allows me to see parts of the country I would otherwise never go to. It's thrilling for me to hear a lyric in a friend's song and be able to understand the reference, or catch a little guitar part I’ve heard them noodling around with for the past year.

Don't Be a Stranger by Nervous Dater is an absolute bop. It's a record that covers all the bases for me: good riffs, killer choruses, carefully crafted chord progressions, etc. When I heard the line, “I love in small doses...” from the song “Vominos” for the first time I cried because of how intense the build up is to that lyric, and it feels incredibly relatable for me.”

Check out Nervous Dater’s “Don’t Be A Stranger” streaming down below!

What Music Means To Me: Sam Gellerstein

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Sam Gellerstein plays trombone, but not just any trombone, the most beautiful trombone playing to hit your ears! Whether it was for Cute Girl From English or Jazz Performance, Gellerstein is a powerhouse in the Philadelphia, PA area if you want impeccable live sounds, and to hang out with a stellar & kind human being! We had to get his take on “What Music Means To Me” because music is such a huge part of Sam’s life, so we did!

Check it out below!

Sam Gellerstein (Musician/Dog Dad):

I think as humans, we are consistently striving, pushing, and struggling for the most we can get with the time we’re given. Now, in no way do I think it’s a bad thing, in fact most beautiful things are created for that specific reason. To create not for fame, or money, but because we the artist, absolutely HAVE to do it. Once we move on past the initial phase of deciding that we want to become artists for a living, we give ourselves some options. We can become jaded, and fall out of love, and forget what we got into this path for, or the path which I have chosen and hope to retain; unabashedly, and unapologetically grateful for what we have.

Music has given me so much more than just a “career”, it has given me a purpose. We are able to communicate love, sorrow, pain, and everything in between, when people can’t think of what to say, or how to say it. Now we are given the daunting, but incredible task of recreating that for someone else. So, I implore to the other young creatives, be grateful, be humble, and never forget why we did this. Reach down before the anxieties, the comparisons, the deadlines, and the bills. We do this, not only because we want to, but honestly we never had another choice.

Please listen to Max Swan's "The Fisherman", while I do play in his band I think this is an album that everyone needs to hear. He has poured his soul into this and I think you will all love it.

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: Eoin Murphy

Photographer: Aaron Jenkins

Photographer: Aaron Jenkins

Eoin Murphy has been a collaborator, peer, and heavyweight supporter in the experimental, jazzed up, indie scene here in Philadelphia. An audio engineer, instrumentalist, and lead in his own project, Brushstroke, Eoin is a come one, come all type of guy - and that’s just some of the stuff we love about him!

Check out his thoughts below on what music means to him!

Eoin Murphy (Audio Engineer/Instrumentalist/Singer):

Music to me has always been a form of communication, it allows me to say anything and feel anything in ways I could never put into words, it also allows me to truly meditate on my life and recenter my focus!

Currently, Eoin is bumping along to “Crispus Attacks” by Killiam Shakespeare, check it out below!

What Music Means To Me: Dustin Schumacher

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Dustin Schumacher is a force to be reckoned with - a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, the Pennsylvania native has been bringing back emotion into the local rock scene with his ongoing project, Inner Temple (one of our faves, tbh).

Dustin Schumacher (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

Music to me means no fear. For an instance, I am immortal. The world’s harm can no longer burden me. The dirt beneath my feet can no longer bury me. I’m as alive as I was when I left the womb. Music is the air in my lungs and the armor clenched tightly around my skin.

I feel like we’re too often surrounded by fashion trends that come and go, family and friends that don’t reach out, and toxic romantic relationships that are anything but fluid. One thing always stays constant and that’s musical release and energy. Too many people are afraid to be real with themselves and to others. Music demands you to be real. It holds you down on the floor and begs you to be completely naked and bare for it. It wants to see every inch of you from the inside out and then go back inside again. It wants to learn your deepest secrets that no one knows. It wants you in every definition and in every language, shape, and form. Music wants your emotional honesty and it can easily tell deceit.

The best songs we’ve heard are filled with singers who had tears in their eyes while reciting their poetic freedom and whose voices cracked and shattered from the emotional strain of hitting their highest note possible until their vocal chords ripped apart like a sharp knife through a tightly wound ball of yarn. Some call that imperfection. I call it human.

Dustin is currently hype on Wilkes Barre, PA natives, Toothless & their most recent EP from 2018, RED. Check out the EP streaming below!

Lee's Top 10 Albums of 2018

Lee Musgraves has shared their Top 10 Albums of 2018 with us, so check it out below!

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David Byrne - American Utopia

Best album of the year, in my opinion. Songs are truly unique compared to what else was released this year. My favorite track off of the album is “I Dance Like This.”

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Juice WRLD - Goodbye and Good Riddance

Emo trap music with really nice beats. Hit me with the same feels that Dashboard Confessional did when I was younger. A really solid record.

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Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch

An exciting EP with plenty of different emotions going through it. The instrumentals on “God Break Down The Door” is one of my most favorite tracks the band has ever completed.

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George Ezra - Staying At Tamara's

You rarely hear deep baritone vocals over pop music, and this whole album has that in spades. Favorite tracks off of the album are “Shotgun” and “Paradise.”

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Hawthorne Heights - Bad Frequencies

This album shows the band maturing as they get older. Evolving their sound and lyrics without getting rid of what I, and many others, love about Hawthorne Heights.

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Ice Nine Kills - The Silver Scream

A horror movie focused concept album that brings what we already love into a conceptual movement. Very loud, intense vocals that truly bring Halloween classics to life for listeners.

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Post Malone - Beerbongs & Bentleys

Beerbongs & Bentleys is, arguably, way better than his debut. All of these songs are truly memorable, clearly rocketing Postie onto a huge stage. This has been my most played album of the year.

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Eric Church - Desperate Man

This is a great follow up to 2015's Mr. Misunderstood, bringing that same great music without the same conceptual elements.

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Kero Kero Bonito - Time ‘n’ Place

Truly, a different sound that breathes fresh air into Pop music. It's like bubblegum Death Grips. The rock influenced sound is a nice touch as well to what their truly unique style!

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Dance Gavin Dance - Artificial Selection

If you like DGD, and their last few albums, this is a good addition. They have their sound down, and while I'd like to see them try something new, this is still an album I keep coming back to.

Rowan's Top 10 Albums of 2018

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A writer for The Hook for nearly 2 years, Rowan continues to contribute sound music reviews & opinions. We love & miss her dearly.

Below are her Top Albums of 2018!

Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

This year has been a thriving time for LGBTQ+ artists. Hayley Kiyoko is our queen and we should all bow down. “Wanna Be Missed” is my favorite song off this album, but the rest are just as good, and the album art? Wow. Hayley out here telling us it’s okay to be as gay as possible. She really wasn’t lying when she said it was 20gayteen.

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Florence and The Machine – High As Hope

Florence, Florence, Florence. This woman has a voice that makes me believe the sirens of Greek myth are real, and she is one of them. She can lure me to my death anytime. I will go willingly as soon as I hear her voice on the horizon.

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Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

Any time Panic! At the Disco releases new music is a good time for the world. Is this one of their best albums? No, but it’s still one of the best albums of the year, because Brendon Urie is still Brendon Urie.

Beach House – 7

My favorite band releasing a new album automatically makes it one of my favorite albums of the year. I’ll just add this to the discography I’m slowly building in my music library.

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Years and Years – Palo Santo

Another success for LGBTQ+ musicians! If Years and Years and Hayley Kiyoko want to do a collaborate any time soon, I wouldn’t be mad.

Nicki Minaj – Queen

The album title says it all. Really. In a choice between this album and Cardi B’s, I gotta go with Nicki. The beef between them is tragic because we all know they could’ve made a collab to end the world. Though I love Cardi’s I Like It (and listen to it on repeat) and I love her personality, Nicki’s music is still my first choice. Chun Li!

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Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Was there even a question that this would be a Top 10 album of the year? For anyone? I’ll be shocked if it’s not on anyone’s list but mine. Come on now. Ariana stays slaying us all. Thank u, next.

Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today

I love Death Cab & I love this album. The songs take me away. “Northern Lights” is my favorite above all. The moment I first heard it on the radio, I stood there just listening to it until it was over, totally absorbed. And then I went and immediately listened to the rest of the album.

Troye Sivan – Bloom

Another LGBTQ+ artist, and one of my favorites. While I think Blue Neighborhood is still his best work, Bloom is a great album with tracks and lyrics that remind me why I love Troye. The boy’s a romantic and I love it. I practically swoon over the pictures he paints with his songs.

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John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

When John Legend dropped a Christmas album out of nowhere at the beginning of November I was shook, but of course I went and streamed it immediately, and I was not disappointed. Christmas is my favorite holiday of all time, and it feels like John Legend should’ve been singing carols long before this. Michael Bublé who? I’ll be listening to John Legend Christmas music and only John Legend Christmas music from now on.

Emily's Top 5 Songs For Crying In The Shower

We need a good cry just as much as the next person - and what better way to get the tears flowing then a playlist to really bring to the surface all of the feelings you’ve been avoiding!

This weeks playlist is an ode to the saddies, the baddies in the shower just trying to get through life - and whether you’re crying in the shower at 7am, 12pm, or 11pm, we’re here to support you!

A Side / B Side - Tipling Rock

While we prefer the Acoustic version, Tipling Rock’s “A Side / B Side” is one of the happiest sad songs we know. If you’re trying to make sure your friends & fam aren’t worried about you, but still hoping to get a good cry in, Tipling Rock makes it easy. The song lends itself to the recently rejected, or the e-crush you haven’t DMed yet. That’s ok, take a walk and put this bad boy on - we won’t judge you!


Heat Wave - Snail

I was recently introduced to Snail Mail via someone I had gone on a few dates with, and when that person ended up to be not the best, Snail Mail was right there to pick me up. Perfect for cool autumn nights, Snail Mail’s album Lush recently dropped & has quickly become a go to sad times album. Check it out!


Upside Down - The Story So Far

The Story So Far lit up 2018 with their latest album Proper Dose. While I had not been a big TSSF fan, this album quickly changed my mind. “Upside Down” especially stuck out to me for lyricism, and also rhyming “It's all love now, upside down” - like, incredible? Also, this song is great for breakups, for being ghosted, for your High School Crush who you haven’t seen in 8 years. Music video below!


Other People - Beach House

Beach House are the OG sad tunes - we’ve all known this. “Other People" is not new, but it remains a stand by song for sadness showers (showers when you’re sad, yanno). While the track is not necessarily sad, Beach House embodies the aesthetic of melancholy in everything they do (for the most part, plz don’t quote us).


Bed Space - Darwin Deez

Ironically enough I found out about Darwin Deez after I had been on a one time date where I never heard from the guy again, so I have only ever known Darwin Deez as that guy, drumming against the wheel in his car, singing to me “Last Cigarette” and “The Bomb Song.” This track specifically makes me feel things because, I personally relate feeling far away from everyone you care about.


So, add these bad boys to your current crying curation, or feel free to hit us up with your favorite songs to shed some tears too! We’ve got Five Songs For Riding In The Car coming up next week, so stay tuned!

Honorable Mentions

The Magdalene - Foxing
Heart Contact - The City View
Just Friends - Pentimento
Apartment - Young The Giant
Charmer - Tigers Jaw
Chanel - Frank Ocean
Summer Depression - girl in red

ALL SONGS HAVE BEEN TESTED PERSONALLY FOR TEAR PRODUCTION & GENERAL SADNESS