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The Real Hooks - Damn You (2017)



Artwork by Odandiee


Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin

The latest single from The Real Hooks, “Damn You”, is a delectably crafted bit of pop song magic with just enough rock and roll exuberance to draw in those sort of listeners as well. This family-bonded operation has been working since 2009 and debuted with their first release in 2012 – much of their rise, however, has been complicated by minor controversies and unexpected setbacks that have arrested their march towards music superstardom, but “Damn You” conclusively proves the band has never allowed any of those things to divert them from their musical development. Instead, they are presenting a better, richer product with this single than they have managed so far. Led by lead singer and guitarist Kyle Hooks, the band is joined by the siblings’ father Nicky Hooks on bass, a second vocalist in oldest son Nick Hooks, as well as Maggie and Raleigh Hooks on keyboards/vocals and drums respectively.

They get a lot of energy and mileage from their six string attack, but it never comes off as strident or somehow not fitting the track’s mood. The production makes this a weighty musical affair, but it never sacrifices the song’s essentially fleet footed approach in favor of dense sonics. The band’s instrumental attack revolves around the guitar and drums, but keyboardist Maggie provides some important flashes of color at just the right moments to help further fill out the performance. There are no spotlit virtuoso moments or overplaying here – The Real Hooks, throughout, remain resolutely committed to serving the song. Vocalists Kyle and Nick have clean, unfettered voices ideally suited for this material and their ability to deliver the songs’ lyrics enhances its unquestioned emotion and light comedic elements. The rhythm section anchors everything with an equally straight ahead performance that provides strong support while ably staying in the background and never calling too much attention to themselves.

The lyrics are well written and tell a story – admittedly, in non linear terms, but nonetheless still quite discernible. It’s a neat little variation on the love song’s standard tropes with just a dollop of attitude to further twist it into something unique individual. The vocal phrasing matches up rather neatly with the musical arrangement and balances the song’s twin moods of playful humor and mock scolding with plenty of style to spare. It’s something not a lot of bands or acts are particularly adept with today and there’s certainly a place for The Real Hooks on the biggest and brightest stages thanks to their unique standing in the modern music world. “Damn You” sounds like the confident, loose and fun work of a band that’s been around much longer and is sure to enchant a broad-based music buying public. Family or not, there’s palpable chemistry throughout the duration of this song and they make it work without ever straining the listener’s patience. Few songs this year are nearly as likable and put together so well. 

Grade: A+

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Swirl’s recent video for their single “Rise Up” highlights all of the qualities that brought the band to the attention of Ditch Day’s producers. The popular movie highlights three songs from the Southern California four piece and represents some of their biggest exposure yet. It follows on the heels of their self-titled release and the songs selected for inclusion on the film soundtrack represent the quality of that release quite well. The band consists of lead singer Alfred Ramirez, guitarist Duane “DT” Jones”, bassist Shane Carlson, and drummer Brian “Bam Bam” Jones. Their vivid and muscular hard rock veers into outright metal at certain points, but Swirl never goes in for the mindless bash and thud sound so common to lesser bands in this genre. Th…