Hot Water Music
As Good as Hot Water Music's emotional hardcore is, it's worth noting that this sort of thing really has been done before - and quite some time ago. As punk became over-run by macho jocks in the 1980s, the geeks sought out the more cerebral, life affirming sounds of Husker Du, Social Distortion, The Replacements and the Dischord-led DC revival. These bands wrote songs that their audiences could sing along to without fear of being smacked in the mouth; songs that were essentially postcards that captured the moment; songs that brimmed with the arrogance of youth.
Clearly reared on such sounds, Hot Water Music have tapped into those emotions once more and relayed them on this, their sixth album, with an unquestionable sense of conviction. 'Caution' is jammed tight with melodies and high drama, each song sung like a diary entry ripped out and cast into the gutter, dual vocalists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard again proving that song-writing of this calibre can't be bluffed. Over the course of the 12 tunes here, the pair run an emotional gauntlet, from the chest-beating celebration of 'Trusty Chords', to the deeply-woven 'I Was On A Mountain' and the short, sharp, solo-addled album closer 'The End'. Along the way, Hot Water Music sound as gritty as Bruce Springsteen in a gravel pit on 'Alright For Now', drop in stolen Van Halen riffs on 'It's All Related', and fashion a complete package of an album with nary a lame piano ballad or anodyne acoustic strum-fest in sight.
And yet beneath the piss and vinegar exterior, Hot Water Music are a reflective band with more to say than most, and a sense of style that suggests they may well progress from being kings of the punk underground to being something bigger and better. With the release of 'Caution', emo just got more emotional, punk just got, well, punkier, and Hot Water Music have put out one of the most intelligent records of the year.
Reviewed By: BEN MYERS
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