"Mature" and "polished:" two words that strike fear into the hearts of hardcore fans when used to describe their favorite group's newest efforts. Granted, it's silly to expect long-running punk bands who aren't named the Ramones to operate ad infinitum with the same songwriting template and a recording budget less than the cost of a McChicken sandwich. But it's also a major bummer when raw vitality is eroded by the pursuit of mainstream success. Fortunately, Gainesville's Hot Water Music (who are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year) have discovered a way, both on their latest album, The New What Next, and in concert, to bring clarity, melody, and depth to their slashing, emo-skirting riffs without sounding like lifeless, corporate sellouts.
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