Return of HWM

One of my all-time favorite bands, Hot Water Music, has reunited (again) to release new music and hopefully launch a proper tour. HWM has always fascinated me because I’ve always found them to be one of the more interesting bands in the punk rock/post-hardcore genre circa late 1990s/early 2000s. What makes them especially unique is the fact they have two vocalists, Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, which has always created some pretty awesome dueling vocal parts in their songs. They also stand out because of their rhythm section. Bassist Jason black and drummer George Rebelo grew up studying jazz music, so they add  technicality and intricacy to the music that most bands in their genre lack.

A few years ago, the band played a series of one-off reunion shows, and I had a chance to catch them in New Jersey and Atlanta. I have NEVER seen a crowd so into a band before. As soon as the first power chord blasted through the speakers, the crowd surged forward and sang along to every song throughout the show. But after those reunion shows, the band never released any proper new music, and even after I interviewed Wollard and Ragan for a music zine I ran at the time, I was still skeptical they’d release a proper full-length album again and do a tour, despite their promises about new HWM material.  The guys were also busy with their own new projects. Chuck Ragan has a successful solo career now, and Chris Wollard has a new band-Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves. Both acts stray far from the post-hardcore roots of HWM. Chuck Ragan’s solo act is built on the folk revival movement, and the Ship Thieves is mellow rock ‘n roll/indie rock.

So when I found out the band was going to release a new album in 2012, I couldn’t wait to hear some new tracks. Luckily, the band has already released new tracks via a brand new 7-inch. The songs, “The Fire, the Steel, the Tread” and “Adds Up to Nothing,” are available via Itunes, and the physical release of the 7-inch is slated for September. I’m waiting to buy that, especially so I can marvel at the cover, which is done by Scott Sinclair, the same artist HWM has used for every single one of their album covers/7-inches.

Of course, some long-time fans will complain that the new album or the new 7-inch doesn’t sound like the tracks on No Division or Forever and Counting, or even some of the band’s later albums, like Caution, but so what?  I’m just happy to hear Chuck Ragan’s trademark raspy vocals over electric guitar again and to have new music from one of my all-time favorite bands of the genre. That’s enough to be thankful for.

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About Brian Fanelli

I'm a poet, teacher, music junkie and much more. My first chapbook of poems, Front Man, was published in 2010 by Big Table Publishing. My full-length book of poems, All That Remains, was published in 2013 by Unbound Content. My latest book, Waiting for the Dead to Speak, was published in the fall of 2016 by NYQ Books. My work has also been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Harpur Palate, Boston Literary Magazine, Kentucky Review, Verse Daily, Spillway, Portland Review, and several other publications. My poetry has also been featured on "The Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keillor. Currently, I teach English full-time at Lackawanna College.
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