ARTIST: HOT WATER MUSIC

TITLE: SHAKE UP THE SHADOWS

LABEL: EPITAPH

RATING: 7/10 

WORDS: OTTO BALFOUR

Celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a band, Hot Water Music are renowned for consistently reinventing their sound, whilst still retaining the somewhat raspy sheen that has kept them from the depths of obscurity befelling other 90’s acts; such is the way of the world. Their sound is a blend of numerous genres; Punk and Post-Hardcore with a little Folk, Funk and some Alt-Rock thrown in for good measure. Hot Water Music’s new ‘Shake Up The Shadows’ EP goes down as smoothly and rewardingly as that first pint after work on a Friday.

It is apparent each member brings a personality and variety of influences to the band’s overall sonics. When looking into the members’ other projects, each has a unique flare to contribute. George Rebelo (drummer) playing with Pop-Punk band The Bouncing Souls adds a flawlessly solid backbeat with some classic Pop-Punk chops and rhythms thrown in. Chuck Ragan (vocals/guitar) and his Folk orientated solo career somewhat bears on some of the lyrical content and raspy, passionate singing-style. Alongside guitarist, Chris Wollard, and bassist, Jason Black, Hot Water Music have outdone themselves on this EP.

Whereas ‘Talk Of Violence’ was a solid slab of janky post-hardcore riffs and screaming vocals, ‘Cut & Stitch’ revels in pure experimentation

“By Any Means”, the opening track is a two minute impassioned ride from start to finish. With a chorus that resembles the more recent works of Thrice, the songwriting itself is flawless. A truly outstanding opening track that leaves the listener wanting more. Inspired by a friend of Ragan’s battling cancer, he wanted this song to reflect his realisation “that the human spirit is just incredible… it’s amazing what you can get through!”

Title track, “Shake Up The Shadows” sees the lyrical content dip in and out of Ragan’s folk roots. The sheer passion and delivery of the vocal performance truly shine through. Ragan himself commented that he “really tries to tap into how I’d want to sing it live because I need momentum in order to capture that energy.” Ryan Williams, the band’s live-sound engineer, is to thank for the incredible production on this EP, and was instrumental in bottling the magic that is Ragan’s passionate performance. Testament to the bands collaborative relationship, bassist, Jason Black added “Chuck’s voice really impresses me with these songs, which isn’t easy after playing together for so long!”

The third track, “Denatured” emits the energetic, groovy, head-nodding hooky nature the band have been revered for on 1999’s ‘No Division’, while still remaining incredibly fresh and new. The lyrics draw on the universal feeling of being overwhelmed, and the communal sense that everyone has issues they have to overcome. The melodic, major instrumentals appear to contrast the vocals upon first glance, but in truth they compliment eachother leaving the listener with a sense of hope. The bass performance throughout the track is a real highlight!

the politics of Petrol Girls haven’t changed, but are themUNselves cut-up and reformed in a new light, championing vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness.

The third track, “Denatured” emits the energetic, groovy, head-nodding hooky nature the band have been revered for on 1999’s ‘No Division’, while still remaining incredibly fresh and new. The lyrics draw on the universal feeling of being overwhelmed, and the communal sense that everyone has issues they have to overcome. The melodic, major instrumentals appear to contrast the vocals upon first glance, but in truth they compliment eachother leaving the listener with a sense of hope. The bass performance throughout the track is a real highlight!

Fourthly, the future fan favourite, “Rebellion Story”. Lyrically, Ragan aims to reinforce the importance of community and the importance of overcoming the austerity plauging today’s society with the likes of Trump in power. The chorus is a proper sing-along moment and a real highlight on this five track effort. In an almost AC/DC fashion, Ragan is set to conduct audiences worldwide with the end of this track. Outstanding. Finally, the band bestows upon us “Afar and Away”, a brilliant closer to this fantastic EP. The four-piece each have their own stand out moments, especially the wondrous lead work by Chris Wollard , drives the record home.

Overall, this EP is bound to be a future fan favourite, and is a fitting way to celebrate their 25th Anniversary as a band; it is accessible for old and new fans alike. Whilst still retaining their signature sound honed over their quarter-millenia careers, Hot Water Music have given have us a record that will be held high amongst their discography. “This milestone is really important to us because we never had any idea that the decisions we were making when we were younger would dictate the rest of our lives,” commented Ragan. “The thought of putting some songs together turned into a career and later that turned into a community – and we didn’t do it alone, we’ve had all these other people supporting us along the way.”

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