By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
It is no secret, that I am not always the biggest fan when it comes to punk rock. For me, it can be too simple, sloppy, and/or generic. They usually play the same kind of notes, while singing about the typical punk rock topics, revolution and anarchy. However, there can be certain punk rockers out there that catch my attention and make me fall in love with the genre. The kind of punk bands that I do like, are the ones that bring substance to their craft, as well as good old fashion punk madness. I particularly enjoy the post-hardcore sound, because they express a lot of creative inspiration. Hot Water Music is a band out of Gainesville, Flor., that has made their mark in their field of music. They were recently brought to my attention, and I enjoy their style. They have been through two break-ups and two reunions, yet somehow they still manage to write stellar albums, like their newest one, Light It Up.
The first thing I loved hearing from Hot Water Music, is their vocalist/guitarist, Chuck Ragan. His voice is very rough and raspy, but also tough. He is like the punk rock version of a mix of Lemmy from Motörhead and Bruce Springsteen. He brings real attitude to the tunes, like “High Class Catastrophe” and “Show Your Face.” Guitarist Chris Wollard is a very slick and masterful axe man. He captures the mood of each song with his solos, which I can hear in “Overload.” Both he and Rogan are aesthetic when they come up with riffs. Add in the simple, yet lively rhythms of bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo, Light It Up makes for a fun and imaginative post-hardcore/punk record.
What I also found ingenious about Light It Up, was how the band was able add even more musical elements to their signature sound. I do detect a hint of an Americana feel, because when I hear songs like “Take You Away” or “Overload,” it makes me visualize apple pie, baseball, and pick-up trucks. It is like I am listening to Springsteen’s Born To Run or Born In The USA. It is crazy, I know that is not what they are going for, but that is what it makes me picture in my head. Lyrically speaking, they can range from believing in yourself and no one else (“Bury Your Idols”), to forgetting the past (“Never Go Back”). Sometimes, they are hard to interpret, like in “Rabbit Key.”
Still, they make an impacting statement. In “Sympathizer,” Rogan says the following in the chorus, “I can’t say we’re bound to lose, cut losses, carry on through.” That can relate to anybody going through difficult trials in life. “Vultures” is the magnum opus of the album, full of angst and torment, but still a delightful number, with fun guitar chords thrown in there by Rogan and Wollard.
Hot Water Music is true to their name; their music is hot. They do not just stick to one specific sound, but dare to bring different genres together. Light It Up is one of the quintessential punk rock albums, any fan would be proud to own. I will admit, I have not listened to their older stuff yet, but I would be lying, if I said I was not curious. I hope to catch them as soon as they get on down to Orange county. Until that day comes, this album will fill my satisfaction. To Hot Water Music, I salute you. Horns up!!! 8.8/10
Light It Up Tracklist:
02. Light It Up
03. Show Your Face
04. Never Going Back
05. Rabbit Key
08. Bury Your Idols
10. High Class Catastrophe
11. Take You Away
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