Monday, December 7, 2009

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #39: Hot Water Music - Caution

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

In terms of the overall musical spectrum, the Post-punk/Hardcore scene never really got out of the basement. Sure, bands like Newfound Glory and Fallout Boy hit it very big, but they were never really part of the movement. Once I managed to figure them out, Hot Water Music always stood above the rest of the genre for me. They had every bit the edge of the dirtiest acts, but came armed with a certain level of technical ability - like they at least listened to progressive rock, even if they didn't overtly incorporate it. Like I said, it took me a while to get it. Once I did, the band kept paying dividends.

But by the end of the 90s, the genre was basically played out. Hardcore was at an end after nearly 20 years. The band had no choice but to change things up or die. Except what happened was not a simple selling out to the teen set. They evolved. It was the same band, but in many ways they had gone in such a new direction that it's almost hard to think of them in the same way. The beautiful part is that this didn't undo any of their previous accomplishments.

The album starts without any shocking opening salvo, but by the time we reach track 3, "I was on a Mountain," we realize that they're up to something different. It's slick and direct at the same time, and they're firing on all cylinders. This is Hot Water Pop Music.

The album's centerpiece, "The Sense" begins on a tear and only gets more intense from there. When you think there's nowhere left, they find another gear. Every time I hear it it surprises me all over again. The abrupt, intense finish always leaves me a breathless.

In 2005, Chuck Ragan left the band and instead of soldiering on. The remainders put together The Draft, which unfortunately left the intensity behind. These things happen. How long can grown men grown at the moon anyway? Nevertheless, they left behind a gem of an album perfect for jumping around in your bedroom to help get the demons out. This was about as far as they could take things, and for that we can only be thankful.

Previous Entries:
#40 Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy
#41 - Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike
#42 - Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
#43 - Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk
#44 - José González - In Our Nature
#45 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
#46 - Caribou - Andorra
#47 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye
#48 - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
#49 - At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command

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