Rise Records – Release Date: 5/15/12
After an eight-year hiatus, Gainesville, FL’s Hot Water Music has reemerged with a new full-length, titled Exister. What’s immediately evident is that the band is determined to break new ground and has little interest in revisiting the past. That alone is admirable, but the fact that they achieve their goal with ease is even more impressive. Singer/guitarist Chuck Ragan incorporates many of the styles from his successful solo career, while fellow singer/guitarist Chris Wollard shares what he’s learned in his other band, The Ship Thieves. Together they lead a group that sounds nothing short of revitalized. Ragan strikes first with the song “State of Grace,” which is a gruff call to arms that is sure to be a fan favorite at shows. Ragan again shines on “Drag My Body,” one of the album’s most dynamic and lyrically powerful tracks. The song also spotlights what is arguably punk rock’s finest rhythm section, and enough can’t be said about the talents of bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo. Wollard dominates the second half of the record and makes his mark with a Foo Fighters-like entry called “Wrong Way.” It marches along with a haunting melody before giving way to a monster chorus that’s instantly memorable. He also takes charge on a tune called “The Traps,” a straightforward rocker with passionate vocals and intricate guitar leads. Exister is a great-sounding album, thanks to producer Bill Stevenson, and one that benefits from the band experimenting with different genres. After spending nearly a decade apart, Hot Water Music has returned in top form, sounding enthused, recharged and ready to craft more influential music for years to come.