NJ Band To Follow - Shark Club

Shark Club is a band that I didn’t know I needed in my life until I heard them. Everything about them and their music screams authenticity, honesty, and innocence in a peculiar way that is reminiscent of childhood memories. The band has been hard at work in 2016 releasing arguably their strongest set of songs in their latest EP Michigan a little over 2 months ago. On top of that, they have also recently released a cover of Slaughter Beach, Dog’s song “Monsters” which you can listen to below!

Shark Club consists of guitarists/singer songwriters Jake Britton and Russel Cerminaro, bassist Eric Ciparis, and newest member, David Juro on the drums. With influences from bands such as Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms, the band strikes a perfect balance between nostalgia and innovation while crafting a sound that is all their own. The name Shark Club, just like the members of band, comes from simple beginnings. One day Britton approached Cerminaro with a song he had written which they later recorded. They quickly realized the potential behind their music, recruited additional members, Ciparis and Juro, and began practicing in Cerminaro’s basement. That practice space was decorated with an odd painting of a pink shark wearing sunglasses.

Right below the shark, the painting read “shark club.”

The band has released 2 full length albums and 1 EP. Their latest full length effort, Michigan, is the band’s most collaborative project with each member contributing to every song on the record equally, and it definitely shows. Michigan captures everything that is fun and exciting about Shark Club and puts it on full display in a neatly polished package that just makes listeners feel good. 
You can check out the tracklisting for Michigan right here!

Michigan Tracklist:
1. In Your Eyes
2. Aim For The Heart 03:11
3. Paper Bag Funeral 03:20
4. In Time 02:30
5. Mint 04:18
6. Weathered 03:09
7. Yosemite 02:18
8. Blue Whale 03:43
9. God Walks on 45th Street 03:38
10. Midnight 03:25
11. Tomorrow 04:44
12. Quilt

Just like their recorded music, Shark Club’s live shows are just as fun and inviting. Even before they set foot on the stage, the members of the band make it a priority to go around and engage audience members by asking random questions that are guaranteed to take you by surprise. When they finally do take the stage, you better believe their shows will be filled with infectious music and good vibes. “If our high energy songs and scrumptious breakdowns don’t get you pumped, I’m not sure what will.”

Unfortunately Shark Club has no set shows in place at this moment. The members are at school until winter break rolls around when they will be back at the grind recording the dozens of songs they have amassed since their last record. 

If you have never heard of Shark Club before, then now is the perfect opportunity to join the club (pun fully intended). You’ll be treated to wonderfully benevolent music that will make you feel happy in the most innate way while still bringing energy and intensity. Michigan is an awesome, feel-good record that I highly recommend. Check out Shark Club’s social media links below and keep your eyes and ears peeled for even more new music and show dates.

Shark Club:  Facebook // Soundcloud // Bandcamp // YouTube

NJ Band To Follow - With Sails Ahead

Photography: Emily Tantuccio

Photography: Emily Tantuccio

There’s nothing like a band from your hometown.

Maybe it’s the connection to living somewhere and wanting to be able to carry that with you, or maybe it’s bragging rights, but whatever it is, it’s always exciting when you know a band from your hometown, added points if that band is also really stinkin’ good.

Enter in With Sails Ahead. The Toms River, NJ-grown, self-proclaimed rock band is definitely that really stinkin’ good band from my hometown that I was talking about, so yeah.

The up & coming five-piece includes Sierra Binondo (vocals), Josef Warner-Reyes (guitar), Santino Costa (guitar), Jaime Martinez (bass) and Andrew Rotundo (drums) to create a really cool, and unique sound. 

A sound that I personally haven’t heard from in the NJ scene – and I’m excited about it. 

With Sails Ahead formed in 2014, without any members except for lead singer, Sierra Binondo. Binondo took on the task of writing and recording music, including Open Letters, the debut EP from the band, created thanks to the help of fellow NJ musicians. It took Sierra two years to complete the band’s line-up with musicians that fit and worked with the specific sound With Sails Ahead was aiming towards. 

Open Letters was the metaphorical "open door" for the building of the band’s core structure. From there, they have been able to put out more music including Open Letters EP (Revisted) in 2016, and their newest addition to their discography, Years In Waiting which was released in June 2016!

To make up for time lost perfecting their sound and member line-up, With Sails Ahead then spent their energy carving their space into the alt-rock NJ scene, playing show after show with bands like Hail The Sun, Worthwhile, Movements, Hotel Books, and In Angels. 

The rising band catches The Hook’s attention because of this impressive stacked show bill experience, their unique sound, and their most recent music, Years In Waiting. This is an EP we’re stoked to be reviewing soon, but also one that blurs defined lines of genre music. The genre-blending EP incites techniques from alt-rock music and hardcore influences, and lyrics to empower.

The EP was recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios, and Assistant Engineered by Augusto Sanchez. It features 4 tracks that set up the listener for some of those “hardcore influenced” instrumentals mentioned earlier, and the really nice juxtapose of Sierra’s voice to illustrate powerful and empowering lyrics for listeners.

But, we’ll get into that in our future review!

I’m just super stoked on With Sails Ahead and what they can achieve – and maybe that is my hometown pride, or maybe that’s just because With Sails Ahead is accessible, their music is fun and upbeat, instrumentally well done and complete – for their second EP they have jumped leaps and bounds as they continue to establish a name for themselves among their peers and listeners.

We’re hoping they’ve got some cool news in store for us, and until then, check out their social media for more on what’s going on. Otherwise, check back here at The Hook for a future album review! 

We're stoked on it, and you should be too.

Tell them a joke, tweet at them, buy them flowers – you know the drill, links below.

With Sails Ahead: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Bandcamp // Youtube

NJ Band To Follow - The Fifth Down

There are countless reasons I would defend New Jersey, and I'm adding The Fifth Down to my list.

Self-proclaimed indie-punk group, The Fifth Down, is one of my newest discoveries in the New Jersey local scene - and to be honest, thank goodness. 

After a supposed failed attempt as a Ska band in High School (Ska was in then, right?) the original members, Elias Kotsis (keys/vocals), Bobby Lussier (guitar/vocals), Kyle Murphy (lead vocals/guitar), and Ethan Wagner (bass) were joined by George Ford (drums), Dylan Levine (guitar/vocals) to begin their project in a new direction - of the indie punk variety.

If you're looking for a reference, you can think of bands like The Front Bottoms, Brand New, and The Wonder Years. 

The Fifth Down has been busy! Of course, why wouldn't they be. They're really good. Back in 2013, The Fifth Down released their self-recorded debut EP, A Reason to Celebrate. All of which using material dating as far back as eighth grade. I've listened to the EP, it's pretty rad - you can get it on iTunes. 

They're currently working on their upcoming full-length, More Than Just Your Own Kind. The band says that this LP is focused on "the story of growing out of one’s home to explore more genuine, organic relationships and what is needed to sustain them." More Than Just Your Own Kind will be released on June 3rd, 2016, and you should totally check back on The Hook because we're stoked to be reviewing it!

The Fifth Down also recently just shared their track, "Canada Dry," from More Than Just Your Own Kind! The guys premiered it with SIMGE on May 16th in preparation for the June 3rd release! You can check out "Canada Dry," streaming on Bandcamp, and you can also purchase the track - so you should be doing all of these things, right now.

And from me to you, I've been listening to More Than Just Your Own Kind, and you should be pumped. Obviously, we're going to be talking more about it on our review of the album, but here's a sneak peek: really stellar emotional lyrics, the best track titles I've ever encountered, and a soundtrack that's going to be your summer anthem.

I mean, what I admire most about them is how really relaxed their music feels. It's reminiscent of some of my old favorites, early 2000 jams. Also, there's a song called "Gas Station Sushi," which is gross and great. I don't know, maybe I don't know much about the indie-punk music scene, or I'm just ready for NJ to represent - but The Fifth Down is definitely representing. The Fifth Down is exciting. The Fifth Down and their music has a lifelong fan in me, I'm gonna be real. 

That's right, you heard it here: The Fifth Down is your new windows down, going to the beach, eating pb&j dudes. Listen to them in your backyard (I did), in your car (I did), while eating a banana with peanut butter on it (did that, too) - point is, just check these guys out. 

Check back here for an album review of More Than Just Your Own Kind in June - and a show review later that month as well!

As always, head over to their social media, take a listen to "Canada Dry," tell them your favorite color, why you can't eat pickles anymore - about your experiences with sushi from sketchy places. Just check it!

The Fifth Down: Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Philly Singer To Follow - Curtis Cooper

Album Art: Abi Reimold

Album Art: Abi Reimold

I first heard Curtis Cooper sing and play while at a Bernie Sanders support show, somewhere in North Philly - close to Temple. 

My friend Lauren and I were there to see Weatherhead (you know them, we talk about them all the time), but we were excited to see where the night would bring us. I'm pretty much brand new to the local scene in Philadelphia. In the garage, dudes in bands walked around moving instruments and lights, tested out their sound.

I remember being very cold, but huddled next to other people who look like me and like music like me, excited to see what this garage show could offer up. Enter in Curtis Cooper - singer/songwriter originally from Philadelphia, PA. He didn't introduce himself, he just began playing and I can remember thinking, "Ok, this is a good start."

Imagine Neutral Milk Hotel vibes had a baby with Elliot Smith, they call it Radiohead, or Bright Eyes. Forget how time works and just imagine that.

Originally from South Philly, Curtis Cooper began playing music when he was extremely young, influenced by his Father - guitar, cello, piano & choir. He attended Paul Green's School Of Rock, a place where he (at 13, mind you) was able to get into a lot of Classic Rock, something that fueled his drive to continue on with music, and especially guitar. Curtis explained to me that he hadn't played in many bands growing up, a few in High School with monickers like "The Stretchmarks," or "Don't Get Caught." Curtis explained it as a sort of thing he fooled around with - up until recently.

It wasn't until about a year ago that Curtis Cooper says he felt he became serious about music. It was at this time that he decided to really throw himself into the Curtis Cooper Project. To do this, Curtis took some old songs he had written (after wondering why he had never wanted to focus on making music he really felt for) and hit up some contacts to help him create his album including Scott Stitzer (drums, production), Jack Zaferes (Bass), Morgane Fouse (Ganou) (vocals on two tracks), and Nick Barnes (engineering). 

With the help from his fellow artists, Curtis Cooper was able to get Laughing In Line completed. The debut album includes 9 tracks, all written and created by Curtis - of course with the help of his collection of artistic minds also. Laughing In Line was the beginning of shows for Cooper - it garnered attraction, and he expressed to me in a recent interview, "I was able to play my songs, and I really just started doing this way more recently than I should have."

I would have to agree with Curtis on that sentiment. Laughing In Line is such a sincere and cathartic album which creates and utilizes sound to experience emotion with the listener. While the actual instrumental basis of Cooper's music is generally more upbeat and quickly paced, it is also deceiving in using it's ability to hide the fragility and sincerity of lyrical and vocal emotional movements - but, we'll talk about that more in our album review!

It would seem that the local Philly singer/songwriter/musician is on a brand new path. One that got me excited to look him up when I saw him play, to play the album at least once a day. It also seems to be one that seems to excite Curtis Cooper with endless possibilities as well - with talks of a second album to come!

The Hook will be following Curtis Cooper for as long as he'll let us! We'll have a review of Laughing In Line coming soon, as well as an exclusive interview with Curtis detailing his beginnings, his goals, his dream meal, and politics.

Laughing In Line is available on Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and iTunes so there isn't any reason you shouldn't be checking this guy out.

Stay tuned for more on the impressive Philadelphia born & raised, Curtis Cooper - and for more on him and what he is up to (or anything I talked about in this article) check out his social media below to compliment him or suggest different ways to cook potatoes!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud