Release Date: May 15, 2012
Record label: Rise
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore
Review Summary: And after many years the messiah has returned.I believe it was The Lawrence Arms' Brendan Kelly who once stated that by breaking up and taking themselves out of the market Hot Water Music boosted their popularity more than they ever could have by staying together because in doing so people realized just how much they missed the long time Gainesville, Florida punk act. Obviously I'm paraphrasing here, but he was right. Their hiatus turned them into legends.
Caught somewhere between showing their age and showcasing their experience, Hot Water Music makes their return with Exister, their first album of new material since 2004. Like running into an old friend for the first time after an extended absence, the album is recognizably HWM, while feeling different enough that it's clear some time has passed. Stylistically, the band's sound feels more or less intact, with its bouncy blend of pop punk energy and post-hardcore noodling coming together nicely.
The return of Gainesville, FL’s Hot Water Music with Exister after an eight-year-hiatus presents an interesting perspective on the “reunion of beloved band” algebra. Yes, it’s “only” been eight years since the band’s last album, but as math tells us, eight years is the difference between being a 16-year-old kid and being a 24-year-old college graduate, between being a 27-year-old finding your bearings in the “real world” and being a 35-year-old with a family and the weight of the “real world” suddenly resting on your now-slouching shoulders. And then there’s the fact that HWM was never your typical punk band, but rather a beefy rock band with a spittle-flecked anger that reflected their roots in Gainesville’s vibrant punk scene.
This review originally ran in AP 287. Fans apprehensive about Hot Water Music’s first new album in eight years should find plenty to enjoy on Exister. They sound revitalized, especially Chuck Ragan, who bookends the album with perhaps its most urgent tracks, which are anchored by some of his most powerful vocal performances (“Mainline,” “Paid In Full”).
Hot Water Music nicely balances aggression and craft on “Exister,” its first album in eight years. Like its signature work from the ’90s, the Florida troupe pushes the boundaries of melodic hardcore without sacrificing sharp edge. The band’s four original members draw up songs steeped in defiance and resolve. The title track and opening “Mainline” are lacerating displays of good ol’ punk rock, yet the album overall avoids formula.
Seminal Gainesville post-hardcore crew make a welcome return. Alistair Lawrence 2012 Eight years is a long time in punk rock. When Hot Water Music effectively signed off in 2004 with their previous album, The New What Next, its title a dig about fleeting, facile trends that the band considered to be dominating popular rock music. A group with a distinctive sound and a loyal following, dual frontmen Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard each went solo and drummer George Rebelo joined Against Me! in the meantime.