punk - yeah, yeah, yeah, you know all about it. But punk squeezed from the pores of Gainesville, Fla.? Well, that's something completely different. It's the sticky, mucked-up swamp punk that only Floridians could cajole out of the humidity - with bands like Against Me! bringing that slice of the south to the music world. But it's Hot Water Music that patented the uniquely Gainesville sound on fist-pumpers like their 1999 No Division. While the sound was fresh, hot, sweaty, bearded punk, HWM's listeners preferred to sing along rather than fight. And then, for some odd reason, Hot Water started mass-producing albums: two in '99, two in '01, one in 2002 and now yet another. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, their newest Epitaph release, The New What Next, goes down like a glass of tepid tap water. The band's once steaming hot sound is now too cool even to satisfy. -- Leah Sottile
The Libertines FOUR STARS
Why are we so fascinated by creative
types in the throes of substance addiction? Why do we insist on regaling one another over cocktails with romantic accounts of fatally flawed artistic types known for doing amazing work while in the dark grip of opiates that take much more than they give? Beats me. But rock is full of them. Add to the list the Libertines, a London outfit whose co-founder, singer/guitarist Peter Doherty, is currently one of the UK's most notorious riders of the white horse. Can a band so addled exist for long? Probably not, but while they're here, the Libertines are thrilling us with some extraordinarily exciting rock 'n' roll.
And that includes the band's self-titled second full-length (on Rough Trade). Here, the push-pull between Doherty and co-frontman Carl Barat smells of danger and intensity. Their jagged charm and intelligence are on display in the careening opener, "Can't Stand Me Now," where the protagonist's hopes, doubts and vices are put starkly on display with a deft mix of honesty and swagger. Elsewhere and everywhere on The Libertines, self-destruction has rarely sounded quite so good. -- Mike Corrigan