Hot Water Music

Shake Up The Shadows EP

Written by: PP on 07/03/2020 06:39:25

It's great to see Hot Water Music activating in this manner so late into their career. Their creative juices are flowing, new material is dropping at regular intervals and with convincing consistency, as their latest EP "Shake Up The Shadows" shows. It contains five tracks of Hot Water Music bliss, and not just Chuck Ragan songs as some might have suspected, but also a contribution from Chris Wollard as well. Here, the split between Chuck and Chris is 4/1: Chris gets the thicker, complicated cut in "Denatured" while Chuck takes the rest.

Fascinatingly, "Shake Up The Shadows" EP doesn't really sound much like the latest Hot Water Music output. It's neither ambitious nor arena-ready in the vein of "Drag My Body", nor gravelly Midwestern style like the previous full-length "Light It Up" was. If anything, this is Chuck & co looking back towards "A Flight And A Crash" style material on the brilliant "Rebellion Story", whereas the title track and "Afar And Away" explore a rock-influenced approach where their signature style dense, complex punk rock is taken into a folksier direction. It could be these are the b-sides to the previous record that didn't fit stylistically but felt too good as songs to just ditch and not release.

Chuck is still, by and large, howling his way through the songs in his classic scratchy, whiskey-laden fashion, which is best seen on the title track "Shake Up The Shadows", a slower-paced track that encapsulates everything good about this band into a single track: depth-laden riffs left rough-around-the-edges by an unpolished production, and gravelly vocals delivered with just enough melody to make them memorable without ever becoming too poppy. Still, it is "Rebellion Story" that stands as the highlight of the EP. It's an uplifting, melodic track that comes across as a classic Hot Water Music anthem: sing-alongable verses, and a powerful, resonant chorus that should make this song a staple at their live shows for years to come.

At just five tracks, the record is a little too short for our liking, but hey at least we're getting new Hot Water Music material, so who's complaining? It's a solid EP that feels like a tribute to fans of their older material, where the songs were rawer and more difficult to absorb. So if you're looking for more "Never Going Back" style sing-alongs you're out of luck, but on the other hand, we get some more intricate and depth-laden tracks in exchange.

Download: Shake Up The Shadows, Rebellion Story
For the fans of: Ship Thieves, Polar Bear Club, Jawbreaker, Make Do And Mend
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.05.2019

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