Jordan Lawrence - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Photography: Adela Locsin 

Photography: Adela Locsin 

In no particular order, Jordan Lawrence, Co-Founder, Black Lodge Management (Bay Faction, Hiding Out, Vertigo), gives The Hook his top 10 albums of 2016!

1. Kanye West - The Life Of Pablo
Kanye's most frustrating work, but also his most brilliant. The energy on this record, the samples, and the features all make it hard to beat. The press and release mess around it made it all the more irresistible to enjoy and really take in. 

2. Frank Ocean - Blonde
A beautiful follow-up to Channel Orange, Frank's vocals over minimal yet lush guitar arrangements put you in his place in the driver's seat. Well worth the hype. 

3. The Weeknd - Starboy
Not a single bad song on this record. Perhaps his most commercial release yet while still maintaining his character. 

4. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
The brightness we needed in a fairly dark year. Between the optimism of the record itself and the incredible marketing done around it, Chance is a true indie staple in a major label-run industry. 

5. Drake - Views
While this record is longer than it needs to be and has a good few filler tracks, it also has some of my favorite Drake songs. Just solid. 

6. Bad Suns - Disappear Here
The band expanded on what they did with their debut in terms of songwriting, along with adding more of a rock edge to it. 

7. Joseph - I’m Alone, No You’re Not
Beautifully written songs and vocal arrangements from these three sisters, whose familial ties give the record all he more unity. 

8. Maren Morris - Hero
I'm normally hesitant with country, but these songs just scream pop records. Maren's performance and the diversity here set her up for a long, unique career. 

9. AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
Perhaps one of the most intriguing releases of the year for me. A singer-songwriter from Norway, singing honestly in English over tracks that perfectly blend sounds of nature and electronic minimalism. 

10. Pinegrove - Cardinal
A step in a different direction for a label and scene that tend to do the same stale things over and over again. Some great, dynamic, honest songs here with instruments and timbres not normally heard from bands on Run For Cover and similar labels.

MD Band To Follow - WVNDER

It's been a while since we've been excited about someone new, but Maryland alt-rock quartet, WVNDER has quickly become one of those bands tugging on our heart strings!

The Frederick, Maryland based quartet has beginnings in 2014 with a debut Bandcamp album - a band made up of core members, Andy Cizek (Vocals), Jack Rentschler (Guitar/Vocals), Danny Salsbury (Guitar/Vocals), and Brett Schleicher (Drums) - WVNDER quickly caught the attention of a few important people in the scene, which skyrocketed their short, however impressive career into the blossoming present it currently takes.

WVNDER signed with Boston label, We Are Triumphant - who re-released their debut album in August 2015, and otherwise allowed for an open door to the spotlight WVNDER wanted - and dare we say, deserves. WVNDER, a two year old band, has spent their time making moves, playing shows, affiliating themselves with companies who they hope will better their standing - and as a listener we admire that in a fellow group of artists. 

WVNDER released their full-length sophomore album back in August of 2016, solidifying their seats as a band you should be watching out for. With roots in pop punk, alt-rock, emo punk, WVNDER has transformed themselves with the use of technical musicianship and emotionally driven, cathartic lyricism. 

Precipice follows debut album WVNDER with 12 tracks, and maintains important footholds that WVNDER had established previously - we're thinking of lead singer Andy Cizek's voice that breaks through the wall of instrumental power, and delivers not only the weight of emotion that the lyrics exude, but also ground the listener in a specific moment that transforms each track into separate entities of being.

Check out the tracklist below!

Precipice Tracklist:
1. Afterimage
2. Character Blur
3. The Dark
4. Goodbye
5. Crier
6. Other Worlds
7. Spellbound
8. Limbo (feat. Bradley Walden)
9. Stay Away
10. Come Home
11. Dream Life
12. Bliss


Of course, what upholds Cizek's voice is the backing of powerful, heavier musical technical prowess of Jack Rentschler and Danny Salsbury. The duality of the guitar allows two separate sounds, one that steadies the beat, and another that highlights the working vocals. And, obviously, the importance of drummer Brett Schleicher to hold down each track with the constant beat. 

By definition, a precipice is a very steep rock face or a cliff - and this Precipice feels like the leap into freedom. That was what we, here at The Hook, most enjoyed about WVNDER and Precipice. WVNDER joins the ranks for band's we're watching out for - one that brings back memories of what we loved about pop punk, what we miss about it, and what the scene needs to uplift sometimes tiresome roots.

If you're in the Baltimore area, check out their show on December 8th!


Otherwise, definitely check out WVNDER - they're always up to something, especially really awesome shows, and in the meantime check out Precipice, or take a look at their social media to stay up to date on some really good fuckin' music.

WVNDER: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

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

Philly Band To Follow - Coping Skills

As time continues to move forward (as time does), The Hook has been reflecting on our upcoming October 13th show - and the exciting acts that it will include. One of these is the fantastic self proclaimed "moderately gay, post ironic, bummer pop" duo, Coping Skills. 

Rachel Dispenza & Lauren DeLucca created Coping Skills, "more than a band name," the pair spent a great deal of time after meeting in college figuring out what it meant to be friends. Coping Skills says, "after a tumultuous (and entertaining) two years of living together, muddling through school together, attending shows together, in addition to recording a benefit compilation and booking a release show, they decided they needed to be writing music together, too."

Thank goodness for that, because Coping Skills has become a rising Philly favorite. 

Since their first EP release in 2015, Everything is Stupid + I Hate It, Coping Skills has since released SAD 4 SAD with Anna Ladd, and lastly their debut LP, Relatable Web Content in the spring of 2016. The 9-track LP is the embodiment of the DIY work ethic, and if you don't know - one of Philly's most current coveted genre technique. Rachel and Lauren recorded the music, created the artwork, as well as released the album digitally and on cassette by themselves. 

Check out the tracklist for Relatable Web Content below!

Relatable Web Content Tracklist:
1. Internet Yardsale
2. We Bury Our Dead Alive
3. Drop Out of College
4. Fuck Me Up, Ben Gibbard
5. Great, Big
6. I Don't Feel Good About This
7. 4 Days with Me Will Change Your Life (Cool Girl)
8. Cheap Shots
9. @ Me Next Time

 

While Coping Skills normally play shows with a drum machine, their friend Sam Becht (Jank) played live drums on the album! However, according to the duo "Coping Skills sets are meant to be a unique experience as much as they are a musical performance. They recently hopped on a tour at the last minute, so Rachel FaceTimed Lauren into every show from hundreds of miles away. This is only one example of their anything goes, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality - but it’s just another day for Coping Skills."

And, let's be real, we're beyond stoked over here at The Hook. Coping Skills will be joining us for our October 13th show (presented in tandem with Paper Scissors Media) - so if anything about them seemed interesting, you should totally come check them out on October 13th at The Tralfamadore right here in South Philly!

Otherwise, check out Coping Skills' social media below!

Coping Skills: Facebook // Bandcamp

 

CA Band To Follow - Crooked Teeth

Photography:  Ashly Nicole

Photography: Ashly Nicole

Crooked Teeth is one of the newest bands we've been into, but their freshness doesn't take away from the pure sound that they create - and we're adding them to The Hook's most watched band list!

Out of San Francisco, California, Crooked Teeth claim to be a "a cocktail of all of [our] favorite elements from (but not limited to) Emo, Pop, Punk rock, Pop punk and Alt Rock." Take it from us, Crooked Teeth is a gratifying collection of eclectic music. Not to mention, Crooked Teeth has spent the entirety of their short existence making sure that their resumé is nothing short of impressive. Having shared the stage with acts like Have Mercy, Cute Is What We Aim For, and This Wild Life, as well as having played for Common Ground Fest Wests Festival, and Emo Night LA.

And for all of these really cool accomplishments, we were even more surprised to find that Crooked Teeth is only a three piece comprised of Tyson Evans (Vox/Bass), Adam Miranda (Guitar) and Adam Galindo (Drums).

Photography:  Ashly Nicole

Photography: Ashly Nicole

According to Crooked Teeth, "The project was started out of a desire to not really have any limitations as far as sound or one particular genre association. The band was put together within six months of the completion of the debut EP, Out Here, A Lone. Adam Miranda (Guitar) ended up printing some shirts for me (Tyson), and I sent him the songs with no objective, which was when he reached out to play and invited his friend (now also mine) Adam Galindo of Strife to hop in on drums."

A band with a plan is what we like to see. Out Here, A Lone dropped on May 27th, 2016. It was produced/engineered/mixed by Matt Lang, percussion was done by Andy Rodesney, and finally mastered by Mike Kalijian. The 5-track EP is the perfect little teaser for what (we hope) is to come from Crooked Teeth.

Think about Green Day and Blink 182 for us, then check out their bandcamp to form your own opinion. Otherwise, check out the tracklist below.

Out Here, A Lone Tracklist:
1. Golden Boys
2. F@#k Up
3. Deal
4. Helpless
5. State Lines

 

 

 

 

Crooked Teeth is a really exciting new venture, and The Hook is on for the ride. In regards to their future and current goals, Crooked Teeth had this to say, "The project is still relatively fresh and we are just getting our feet wet under this new name and identity. Ultimately, our goals are to shred really fucking hard, have a kick ass time doing so, and write jams that we would want to turn up loud."

In the meantime, check out Crooked Teeth's social media plugs below, and stay tuned with this up & coming band.

Crooked Teeth: Facebook // Bandcamp

Philly Band To Follow - MOON JELLIES

It's been a while, but we're happy to be back with Philadelphia natives, and newest Hook obsession, MOON JELLIES!

This psychedelic 4 piece has been experimenting with sound in relationship to music in a way that feels refreshing, fun, and smart. Of course, what we feel is most important about this band is their ability to morph into different things. While psychedelic indie feels nice to say, MOON JELLIES is huge on that experimentation bit, and can go between different sounds like neo-soul, or dream pop, and even psych rock. 

We're stoked on MOON JELLIES, though, because they're all of those things that embody their music too. But, to understand this band, maybe it's best to go back to the beginning. The lineup consists of Eoin Murphy (Guitar/Vocal), Kevin Segal (Bass), Ethan Berkowitz (Synths/Keys), Phil Conine (Drums/Percussion). According to MOON JELLIES, the project began in high school when frontman Eoin and former member Kevin Moran came up with the idea. After a few years, and a lineup change, the band has become what they are today. 


Fast forward to now - MOON JELLIES spent their summer playing shows. The month of August, the band toured all the way from Philly to West Virginia, and then have spent the month of September playing a series of six shows throughout Philly! 

A busy bunch, if you ask us.

Of course, the band has said that for the future they plan on taking the month of October to play fewer shows, focusing more on getting into the studio to record and release their first full length. Besides that, the band says they are working on some big winter plans including another tour that may extend all the way down to Texas!

Which is exciting, and we're most excited about the new music part. MOON JELLIES are doing something right - a lot of things right, actually, and we're on board. We want more gooey synthesized sounds, more whiney, haunting vocals, more dissociative guitar murmurs, more passive drums. We're just asking for more.

Which means we like their stuff, and you should too. 

For now, though, you should definitely be checking MOON JELLIES out. They're an active, all around fun group of people who work really hard to share positive music vibes. Check out their social media to keep up with their day-to-day lives, set up a dinner date with them, watch them eat pizza, hold their hands. 

MOON JELLIES: Bandcamp // Facebook // Soundcloud // Twitter

PA Band To Follow- Carried Away

Pennsylvania, and Philly specifically, has been a hotbed for the turn-of-the-century punk music- which is focused on being energetic, honest, and inviting to listeners of all kinds. Though it is more widespread, it seems to have diluted in a sense.

This is not to say it's gotten worse, but it HAS lost a great deal of the bite that punk music of old so furiously held on to, capitalizing further on quirky personal flares and cleverly satirical writing and only occasionally getting rougher than the roughest Title Fight song. Think phenomenal bands like Hop Along, Ex Friends, and Radiator Hospital. Great punk, but not tooth-kicking-in punk. Few bands have found a home in the harder parts of punk, but bands like Philly's own Soul Glo have remained true to the piss-and-vinegar rawness. 

They aren't alone, though, as Bucks County has spawned a no-frills, all-thrills, Hook-Approved hardcore punk act by the name of Carried Away. Having come together early last year, this band has a raw spirit that is set to get heads a-banging, arms and legs a-swinging, and ears a-ringing.

Check out their song "Let It Go" below for a taste.

Seriously, this band is harsh. It builds on the blistering assault of bands like Righteous Jams, Desperate Measures, Cro-Mags, and Mother Of Mercy, staying stompy and steady to create a sense of crushing heaviness that would make any Hatebreed fan shed a tear of pride. All you need to do is listen to the band's demo, Common Case Of STFU, and you'll understand. Released in June, the demo showcases all the unhinged menace that is Carried Away.

Common Case Tracklist:
1. Let It Go
2. Don't Look
3. Unabashed

4. Never Enough
5. Memories


Each one of these five songs will have listeners begging for more.

When a band comes around and captures the essence of hardcore punk in its full breadth, you know shit's serious. Furthermore, vocalist Mitch Koehler dominates the tracks, asserting himself to the forefront to express just how much everything pisses him off (and we've got news for you: it's a lot). One only needs to hear the beginning of "Never Enough" or the end of "Don't Look" to understand where this dude is coming from. Moments like this set the band up to elevate the current scene, because while many a punk act maintains the attitude, these boys are more than happy to bring the aggression to boot. 

You can pick up this demo at their Bandcamp, and be sure to follow them on Facebook to see when they'll have shows in the area. Here's hoping they'll come through Philly soon! Until then, stay tuned for more punch-drunk punk ear-lovin'. 

Carried Away: Facebook // Bandcamp

Harlem Hip-Hop Artist To Follow - DaZay Burnett

Last winter, I sat in a class with a group of artists and we discussed the difference between truth and beauty while arguing whether one was more important than the other in regard to art.

Like any debate, there were people who felt strongly about both subjects, but what seemed most shocking was that most leaned toward the idea that beauty was more important than truth in art. Some emphasized the significance of packaging and marketing, claiming that art itself is the distortion of reality. Some also argued that art, for many, is an avenue of escape and people should not be burdened with “truth” when experiencing it. Others, like myself, perceived art to be a creative depiction of reality that magnifies truth instead of distorting it.

It offers a quality of direction in a world that is, for lack of better wording, all over the place. For example, hip-hop artists such as Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, NWA, and Wu Tang Clan emphasize the conflicts of poverty, government corruption, and social injustice. They delivered grand truths, focusing on their positions in the world instead of the positions that they are in because of the money and popularity that they’ve generated. They make music for their communities, music that evokes emotion and action. That’s what makes them passionate and what makes other people passionate about them and their music. Likewise, mastermind manager, lyricist, and vocalist DaZay Burnett uses hip-hop to not only express himself, but to portray his experiences and their relationship with other people’s experiences.

DaZay Burnett grew up in Harlem, New York, home of the creative and performing arts where he immersed himself in both. He performed in musicals and talent shows at Beacon High School and attended weekend classes at The Harlem School of the Arts. He established The Vagabondz with his best friend Tyrone during their freshman year in high school. BrokeMc of The Deli Online Publication suggests that the collective sound authentically Westcoast; however, DaZay’s and his counterparts’,Tye’s and Zymoon’s complex, well informed yet, humble lyricism backed by synthetic instrumentals gives them a Wu Tang Clan texture and mien infused with their own organic aesthetic. What makes the group unique is the obvious gap between their age and wisdom. It is most evident in their debut album LESSONS.

DaZay states, "Yeah we definitely get the conscious rap label a lot, which I’m always kinda boosted by because if you peep our earlier tracks on soundcloud (Leopard Interior EP), it’s all sex, drugs, light and dark songs. But that’s just the life we were living at the time growing up in NYC, beefin with other public schools, turnin up at brooklyn free’s (frees= house parties), so the music is like a piece of that moment in time. I feel like we matured fast from that route though, especially with LESSONS, the subject matter is more focused on issues that a lot of people don’t know youth go through in this city, and just our day to day life lessons. Whether that be through songs talking about guns, not being able to afford college, police brutality, or even a lovey dovey song like “Come Tru."

Not only is DaZay a rapper, but he is also a dedicated student and business man. He attended the University of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia as a musical theater major, but has declared Music Business Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) as his major for his sophomore year to educate himself about the music industry in order to manage his collective to the best of his ability.

Though the Vagabondz members are scattered among different universities, they not only find ways to connect with each other, they also use their college experiences as networking opportunities to build their collective.


The current line-up of artists are the following: Vocalist, manager, and lyricist DaZay, rapper Tyrone and Zymoon, hype-men Young Choc and Simon, and producers Broccoli Rabe, DJ Sun, Helixzx, and DJ Fortunes.

Recently on July 22nd, they successfully hosted their second Beast Coast Bondz Bash, bringing in an audience upwards of 100 people. The Beast Coast Bondz Bash is a cultural event that chains upcoming hip-hop artists from different states and puts them on the same stage. The first event’s line-up consisted of local artist from Philly and UArts students. Beast Coast Bondz Bash II was curated of artists from Philly and Jersey.

Not every song is pretty and light because it can’t be like that, that’s not how life is for us.

While it is refreshing to have young artists commit to maintaining the politically and socially responsive nature of hip-hop culture, the glorification of violence, money, drugs, and casual sex are also facets of it. For some, it is a mask. For others, it is a part of life that should be exhibited in art like every other human experience. Growing up in Harlem, New York, there were moments when those things were aspects of Burnett’s existence and subsequently reflected in his earlier music, specifically his collective’s EP, Leopard Interior. DaZay; however, has chosen to use his music as a platform to depict a truth that not only resonates with him, but with other people.

He uses his voice to speak for those that cannot be heard, and he stated "I just write about how I perceive the world, and I’m inspired by life experiences and stories I hear from teens from Harlem who feel they don’t really have a voice in society just because where we are and how black youth are perceived. Regardless of how the media tries to make it seem, we’re not all the same and I feel like I have a duty to talk about what I see in my hood on the daily so I just tell my side of the story as honestly as I can. Not every song is pretty and light because it can’t be like that, that’s not how life is for us. We got the turn up songs too don’t get me wrong, but if you have a voice that people want to listen to why not let them know what’s going on out here? That’s just my take, I just want to unify everybody."

The Hook will be following DaZay, as well as The Vagabondz and their music. Stay tuned for this articles corresponding interview to learn more about The Vagabondz, The Beast Coast Bondz Bash, DaZay, and his perception of the role of women and drugs in music and student debt. 

For more, check out the links below!

DaZay Burnett: Facebook // Soundcloud // Datpiff