Album Review :: Hot Water Music :: Exister

Hot Water Music has always been one of those bands who embodied everything that punk meant. It was always music that you felt deep in your bones and a gravelly voice that spoke to your soul. The first time that I heard Moonpies for Misfits and I felt a calm within myself. This song sounded like I felt. It wasn’t necessarily the music, but it the energy and the sentiment behind it that was being blasted through the speakers and into somewhere deep inside of me. That passion, that artistry, that intelligence are key factors in why Hot Water Music is still so significant after almost 20 years.

Formed in Gainesville in 1993 Hot Water Music began releasing EPs and albums in 1995. Their heavy chords, passionate music, and Chuck Ragan’s hauntingly beautiful gravelly voice set them apart from their contemporaries and established themselves as an integral part of the punk scene both in Gainesville and around the country. After releasing 7 full lengths, 1 live album, and 18 EPs (splits included) they called it quits in 2006. From the ashes of Hot Water Music came The Draft and Chuck Ragan’s solo career, which are highly respected in their own rights. Luckily for fans, the hiatus didn’t last long, by 2008 the band was playing sporadic shows and in 2011 they recorded and released The Fire, The Steel, The Tread a kick ass 2 track EP that got all of us Hot Water Music fans fired up with the hope of a full length release.

Well, the wait is almost over, Exister will be released on May 15th. Though it is easily Hot Water Music’s most rock and roll album, longtime fans will not be disappointed. The album exists in uncharted territory somewhere between punk, rockabilly, folk, and rock and roll, that feels like the most natural step for the band. Exister shows multiple sides of Hot Water Music, from the punk tracks that will make you long for the pit, to the slow tracks that crawl inside you, to the folky tracks that really border on a rockabilly feel, to the rock and roll tracks that are hell of a lot of fun. Each style and each track have their place on Exister and in turn make it a full record that never dips in energy, even in the quiet moments.

My favorite tracks are those that are filled with type of energy that will get the pit moving. This album kicks off with one of those tracks, Mainline, is all vigor and Ragan’s signature voice that is just inciting us to dance.Wrong Way and The Traps will have any pit going, while Exister is pure thrashy intensity that embodies the spirit of punk rock.

Boy, You’re Gonna Hurt Someone, sung by Chris Wollard, has a very different feel to it than the rest of the album. The voice is low and menacing and the music has a fury that seems to be suppressed in the vocals. This pairing makes the track very intriguing, I found myself listening to it over and over trying to really get a hold on it, still I haven’t completely. Drag My Body, begs for you to sing along and gets stuck in your head for days. It begins very folky with a super catchy cadence but gathers intensity for the chorus.

The album ends with Paid In Full (hands down my favorite track on the album) which is the single most raw and passionate track on the album. It will have long time Hot Water Music fans remembering the way the flet the first time they heard the band or the first time they saw them play live.

While you have to wait until the 15th to buy Exister, Hot Water Music is taking full advantage of this digital age that we live in. State of Grace is being streamed on the Huffington Post website and Drag My Body is over at Rolling Stone. They also have put up a teaser video as well as a The Making of Exister parts one and two on their YouTube channel.

Exister is Hot Water Music’s first full length in eight years and they still are kicking ass. Produced by Bill Stevenson and released on Rise Records. Check it out.

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