2016 Music

Emily Famularo - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Owner & Editor of The Hook here, just hoping to share my top 10 albums of 2016! As far as music goes, I've listened to a lot this year. With The Hook's birthday right around the corner (March), I've spent most of my time listening to a lot of really good local music, so this list is representative of some of the best albums I've heard this year - on repeat all day, every day.

10. Curtis Cooper - Laughing In Line
Honestly, I heard Curtis Cooper back in March when I first started the magazine, and I begged them to let me write about them. Since then, we've had many conversations regarding shows and anxiety and civil rights. A good friend, and a talented musician who I can't wait to see more of in 2017. Laughing In Line was an expertly crafted album that showed of Curtis Cooper's impressive vocal and instrumental prowess - favorite track is for sure "Today L.A."

9. gnash - us
us is a perfect little diddy of an EP that brings together all of the reasons I loved gnash in the first place. gnash to me is the perfect mixture of electronic sound with singer/songwriter & R&B influences. gnash always knows the right way to say how I'm feeling, and that voice makes me melt inside. I saw gnash at firefly, right up front, and I only cried a little bit. Favorite track off of us is definitely "u just can't be replaced (ft. rosabeales)."

8. SWMRS - Drive North
While this album came out in February, I only recently got into about two months ago and it's everything I've been looking for since the end of summer. With gut punching, angst filled anthemic tracks - to stupid american punk themes, I spend most of my time listening to Drive North wanting to kiss people - maybe in 2017. Favorite track off of Drive North is "Lose It."

7. The Hip Abduction - Gold Under The Glow
This album was the first album I ever fell in love with in 2016 and I've been listening to it nonstop ever since. Gold Under The Glow is exactly what I want from indie - a softness that radiates an ethereal, almost ghostly, but happy sound. All of these tracks remind me of being in the sunshine, and that's why I have to make it one of my favorites for 2016. Gold Under The Glow kept me happy in some of the toughest times of the year, and I'm grateful. Favorite track off of the album is "Ka'iwi."

6. Halogens - Kitchen Sink
Halogens is another band that I had heard while in Brooklyn, and my first major triumph as a magazine owner. From NJ, my home state, Halogens have this great sound that sounds even better underground, in a basement. So much so that I made sure to have them on my very first gig in September! Kitchen Sink is an impactful EP for me because of it's pure rawness. Each track is guttural and hungry. Much like how I felt upon first listening. "Kitchen Sink" is my absolute favorite track off of the EP, so check it out!

5. Waterparks - Cluster
Another EP that I heard while seeing Never Shout Never and Metro Station (yikes) last spring! Waterparks really impressed me with their throwback pop punk sound. I swear it's like listening to music from 2009 - but with better lyrics and production. Cluster is a great little EP that is biting and unassuming. My absolute favorite track (hard to choose) is "Crave" despite a huge repetition of chorus.

4. the Weeknd - Starboy
Cause, duh. 

3. Hands Like Houses - Dissonants
This album gets me so pumped at the gym, honestly. The heaviness in the instrumental background highlights the lyrical power. Favorite track is "I Am."

2. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Folktronica is alive and well thanks to Bon Iver. This album makes me thankful that they didn't ditch the project even though they left us all waiting for five years before this album came out! One of the strangest albums I heard this year, as each track was signature Bon iver-esque, but each was imploring a new technique, something different. My favorite track off the album is "33 'GOD.'"

1. The Neighbourhood - Wiped Out!
Okay, so what this album came out in the tail end of 2015. This album is still my all time favorite. An album that is a growth for The Neighbourhood, but does so in a way that keeps listeners happy by maintaining familiarities of the band! "Single" is a track I want imprinted on my skin for the rest of my life, but for now I'll just keep it on repeat.

Thanks for checking out my Top Ten for 2016, and maybe we had some agreements, or disagreements, either way I know I'm definitely looking forward to what 2017 has in store for us!

Jake Varrone - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Hook writer, Jake Varrone, is here to present his top 10 for 2016! A list full of some of the best music for Jake's year! Check out the list below!

1. Travis Scott - The Birds In the Trap Sing Mcknight
Whenever I’m in a good mood, I’ll put this record on in the car, roll down the windows and belt at traffic. It’s catchy as hell and a very beautiful trap/hip-hop album in its own edgy way.

2. Anderson Paak - Malibu
I got hipped to Anderson Paak after a buddy told me to check out the single “Am I Wrong.” Right away, I realized this dude not only a gifted musician, but brings this palpable charisma to everything he touches. Every song this dude comes out with sounds like gold, and I’m really excited to see where his creativity takes him in the upcoming years.

3. NxWorries - Yes Lawd!
This album is a collaboration between producer Knxwledge and Anderson Paak that will change the hip-hop/r&b game in 2017. Relying on Knxwledge’s sample based beat making genius and Paak’s unmistakably smooth yet edgy vocal timbre, you can expect to hear these guys’ names a lot in 2017.

4. the Weeknd - Starboy
I was really skeptical about this album because I wasn’t a huge fan of the single. I thought it was stagnant, boring, and unable to stand on its own. However, when I heard it complimented by the rest of the album, my perspective flipped. The album is teaming with hits, and is easily one of the best produced records of the year. I’ve never been more excited about the Weeknd.

5. Kaytranada - 99.9%
Kaytranada is a rhythmic genius. His music is soulful, smooth, and dynamic. Whenever I listen to his music I usually end up with a sore neck. This record is incredible – especially “GLOWED UP,” and “YOU’RE THE ONE.”

6. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
What is there to say that has not been already said about this one-of-a-kind album. I’m so happy to see an independent artist find as much success as Chance not only for his talent and style, but by staying true to his roots. Chance For President #2020.

7. James Blake - The Colour in Anything
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of James Blake. I think he has been changing the electronic music and r&b game for a long time, and is finally gaining the recognition he deserves. Side note, this album dropped on my birthday, making it that much more special for me!

8. PARTYNEXTDOOR - PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 (P3)
I love the vibe of this album. PARTYNEXTDOOR says so much without saying much at all. I’ve always been a fan of minimalism and I never knew minimalist hip hop/r&b could evoke so much emotion and still be catchy as hell.

9. StarRo - Monday
StarRo is an electronic artist I discovered after watching him do a mixmag set alongside Sweater Beats. After checking out his original music I was immediately hooked. As I said earlier, I’m a huge fan of minimalism, and have a huge admiration for artists who compose minimalist tracks with taste and creativity.

10. ZHU - GENERATIONWHY
ZHU is another artist I got into this year. He has a really unique sound that can be a little difficult to pin down to any singular genre since he includes components of electronic music as well as indie rock and dance. He’s a young producer with a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for 2017.

Gene Meyer - 2016 Top 10 Tracks

Gene Meyer, lead singer for grindcore band, Bandit, and comedian, shares with The Hook his Top 10 Tracks for 2016!

1.    “Grind Hard With A Vengeance/Failure To Thrive” – Ground – Split w/Bandit
No other moment this year captured the animosity quite like these two songs do, specifically the seemless transition from the ending two-step of “Grind Hard” directly into the sweet mother of god badass opening helicopter breakdown of “Failure To Thrive”. That riff is pure merciless revenge and if you don’t immediately crowd kill everything in your living room when it comes on, then you are just a fucking poser, my dude.

2.    “Chihan Ki Pari” – Chepang – Lathi Charge
There are other songs of this album that I was considering putting on here but this is definitely one of the more “grindy” bangers of the sick LP from this Nepalese unit. Anchored by the beautifully disharmonic Discordance Axis-esque arpeggio, the whole 65 seconds of this song are just a stellar example of angular self-loathing writhing on the floor via guitar, drums and vocals.

3.    “Hollow Roots” – Wormrot – Voices
Grindcore bands just can’t seem to win. Either they release album after album of the same music and elitists call them “boring” or they try something new and elitists call them “posers”. I for one am amazed by the job these Singaporean grinders did incorporating Deafheaven style black metal influences into their music while also staying very true to the crusty grind that they had purveyed so successfully in the past. The entire album is beautiful, haunting and full of memorable moments yet it was this song that really captured their new dynamic perfectly.

4.    “Napalm Menth” – Dome – Demo
Grindcore is a divisive subgenre but I think one thing that people tend to forget about is that it can be, and sometimes should be, fun. The absurdist samples that bookmark the scummy, bonehead, idiot grind only highlight the glorified stupidity on display here. As soon as I turn this song on I can just smell the spilled bongwater and body odor of a basement grind show. Action Bass? MORE LIKE ACTION ASS!

5.    “You Will Never Be One Of Us” – Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
The title track from the most polarizing album of the year from the most polarizing band of the moment. Yes, this one is ripe for parody and yes, the memes are great but at the end of the day this fucking song rips in a way most bands could only dream of. This is probably the first Nails album where I can actually tell what the guitar is doing and I think they are much better for it. Don’t even act like the helicopter breakdown during the second half of this banger doesn’t give you a sweat pants boner.

6.    “Hypocrisy” – Shitstorm – Split w/Radiation
Seven seconds to let everyone know what pieces of shit we all are. Love it. ;)

7.    “Dying Inside” – Blight Worms – I
Everything about this song just IS GRIND. It’s like this band was like “Let’s just sum up the entire early discography of Napalm Death into a fucking riff and open our song with it and maybe have the dude from ACxDC do vocals over it”. I contest that there was no better build-up/blast then this year than this song right here.

8.    “Face First Into Concrete” – Noisear – Split w/Days Of Desperation
It would not be a stretch to call most of this band’s output “redundant” but what they do, they do will. It is also not the easiest music to play, let alone create, so give credit where credit is due. This is easily the strongest song of their side of the split EP and it is quite the banger. Discordance Axis in a high school science lab with the dudes in Maruta as your teacher. Tight.

9.    “Des Bribes de Nuits” – Whoresnation – Split w/Chappa’ai
If you were looking for a stellar example of modern grind, then this one would be it. Just about everything is perfect here: the rough production that enhances the heaviness rather than detract from it,  the faux breakdown during the intro and of course the diminished  fifth evisceration that would make the dudes in Insect Warfare proud.

10.    “Assistance” – Gendo Ikari – Unit 1
The opening three seconds of this song really set the tone for the entire album: “full velocity spasms of bezerk insanity with intermittent brutal slam parts”. I think the MVP here has to be the vocalist, who’s piercing shrieks and guttural regurgitations take the affair to another level.