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Hot Water Music - The Fire, The Steel, The Tread / Up To Nothing

Maryland Matt   (180 reviews)

Posted: 11/14/2011 | Comments: 3 | Rate:

The first time I heard the gruff and gravelly, yet beautifully melodic vocals of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard was in 1997 when a friend at a local record store recommended that I give their album Fuel For The Hate Game a listen. The moment the needle met the groove, I knew that this was something truly special. The trade-off vocals of Ragan and Wollard intertwined with one of the greatest rhythm sections in punk rock history in bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo is a recipe that will never be repeated. In the brief time that I had been listening to them, I had developed an insatiable appetite for every release of theirs I could get my hands on. I gobbled up every 7", 10", split, full length or anything in between that I could and then one day in late 1998 I heard the the crushing news that they were calling it quits but would be performing a last show in early 1999 in Gainesville, FL. I almost felt as if a life was being taken away before its time, as corny as it may seem.

In early 1999, I purchased Live At The Hardback. It was what I thought would be the last HWM release and in a way... a self-written eulogy. At the end of the first song, Chuck Ragan said the following words into the microphone... "I'm sure a lot of people here came a long way tonight because they heard this was our last show... I don't know what to tell you guys... we're trying to keep it going". This statement was met with absolute jubilation both by the people who were actually in that room on that night... but by an 18 year old me in my shitty apartment nearly 1000 miles away in Maryland.

From that day, Hot Water Music released some of the most heart-felt and furiously passionate records that I have ever known and to this very day, their record No Division to me, is still the benchmark for what is perfect in indie rock/melodic punk. Their body of work is irrefutable evidence that whether as an entire unit, in other bands or with their own solo endeavors... these 4 musicians are master craftsmen.

Their last record, The New What Next, was released in 2004 and the band has had very little activity as a solidified unit since its release. The members have all gone on to have successful careers in other projects but there had been a void left in the place where Hot Water Music once stood. Not long ago and nearly 7 years since their last proper release, the news broke that they will be reconvening to record a new album that would be preceded by a 7" of two new songs... this 7".

The two songs on this record are both phenomenal in their own rights but are quite different. Side A is very much a Chuck Ragan work, made obvious by his solo records. It is a much more folk inspired and vocal/lyrically driven track than most previous works by the band. Though I will say that there are few in this day and age that can tell a story through song like Ragan can. That fact is not lost when he rejoins his band mates on this recording. Side B on the other hand is aligned more with the driving melodic punk rock works that most may be familiar with, akin to previous HWM releases. Here you will find the telltale trademarks of this band in not only beautiful melodic guitar riffs inter-layered among hard hitting drum work and absolutely stellar bass playing but also the gruff vocal melody that you have come to know.

While I have been a fan of every single release by this band, their later releases were starting to show them falling out of favor with me personally. Thats not to say that there was any diminishing quality in the material, but in my situation... I attribute it more to them having too much polish on their sound at that time. I fell in love with the gritty passion and unbridled honesty in their sound and this 7" is a return to form. If this was meant to be a teaser for what is to come with the rejuvenated Hot Water Music... I could not be more excited with what the future holds.

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Pulp Free
52,194 Posts
one reviewer sits on this for 55 days. You took about 55 minutes to have the review done. Bravo, Mr. Bennett!
still oh so ill
8,438 Posts
I didn't even have to use the reviewer download. I preordered this thing months and months ago. Haha.
24,550 Posts
the reviewer download was expired. i forgot to send a pm about it. my b!

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