Hot Water Music - Caution
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: October 8, 2002
Hot Water Music are something of an enigma. What genre is this band? As a long time fan, I've found that trying to find a definition for this band is tough, considering their evolution has been so evident from album to album. Although it's tough to say what their pinnacle album was, in my opinion it was an album called Caution.
Now Hot Water Music have their fair share of trademarks, but their most recognizable one is easily their dual vocalists. Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard have always been a duo to be to listened to, considering how much they shout. On this album, their voices have evolved into actual singing some of the time (Wollard's performance on "Trusty Chords") but still brings that chaotic barking that Hot Water Music fans have come to know and love ("Sweet Disasters"). But the big vocal change is the further use of blending different vocal parts to compliment each other ("Remedy," "One Step to Slip"). The lyrics are a blend of the metaphorical and direct. "Trusty Chords" addresses an ever growing scene and finding their own place in it. "Sweet Disasters" talks about how the bad things in life being as relevant as the good things.
As far as the sound is concerned, it's still the same classic Hot Water Music, but the guitars have incorporated more dynamic leads, like the beginning of "The Sense" or the rocking (yes, I said rocking) guitar solo in "One Step to Slip." The musical backbone of the band has always been the rhythm section of bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo. Although their performances similar compared to previous albums, there are many standout performances, including Black's lightning quick fingers on "I Was on a Mountain," and Rebelo's lightning quick drumming on "We'll Say Anything We Want"). The real defining moments for them on the record are definitely when the two work together, like on the top notch intro to "One Step to Slip" and the mellow plays off each other in "Alright for Now."
Brian McTernan returns to the boards after a fantastic job on A Flight and a Crash to make even smoother sounds: the guitars' distortion is warmer, but the muting is crunchier. The bass is turned down a little bit in the mix but still sounds as punchy as ever. The drums are tight and simple, yet still catchy and fun. As far as Hot Water Music records go, this is easily their best and most memorable record with Brian Mcternan and ranks near the top of Hot Water Music albums. While this album has a huge influence on me, there are definitely many reasons why this band is still mentioned in small circles at shows. This is one of the big reasons.
Great, great album. Nice to see someone else around here reviewing that has similar tastes to my own.
And though there are better songs on other HWM albums, as a whole Caution really is the most complete.
No Division had some really amazing songs and so did A Flight and A Crash, but McTernan really turned it up a notch and delivered something that just didn't STOP. I remember just being floored and I was a long time fan beforehand.
Probably still one of my all time favorites from this band. It wasn't my first intro to the band, but it was this record where I was able convince some of my friends who weren't really into them that this was a good band.