Split

ALKALINE TRIO offers 3 doses of pop influenced punk rock enveloped in the shadow of death and despair with slivers of light penetrating the seams to tender a glimmer of hope and consolation. All that and a HOT WATER MUSIC cover too. HOT WATER MUSIC treads on familiar ground, churning out 4 raw and intensely passionate songs, which includes 2 ALKALINE TRIO covers. Both band’s contributions are brand new and exclusive to this EP.

Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side, NJ
Design slapped together by Sergie

Alkaline Trio
1. Queen of Pain
2. While You’re Waiting
3. Rooftops

Hot Water Music
4. God Deciding
5. Russian Roulette
6. Radio
7. Bleeder

Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music [I]Split EP[/I] Review: It All Depends

It all depends on how you’re going to like this split EP by Chicago favorites Alkaline Trio and Gainesville, Florida’s Hot Water Music. If you’re a fan of one, but not the other, chances are you’ll find the disc a 50/50 affair. Personally, I hadn’t heard either band before acquiring this disc, but I will say that it made me check out both groups’ other work. This is probably the core hope of Jade Tree, who has released this work.

But first things first. To put it bluntly, I love the Alkaline Trio’s songs on this disc and am less than enthralled by the sound of Hot Water Music. The ironic thing about this disc, however is that both bands do cover versions of each other’s tunes. In Alkaline Trio’s case, they cover Hot Water Music’s "Rooftops", while Hot Water Music covers Alkaline Trio’s "Radio" and "Bleeder". In addition to the covers, Alkaline Trio offers up two new songs called "Queen of Pain" and "While You’re Waiting", while Hot Water Music gives us "God Deciding" and "Russian Roulette".

So onto the songs and sounds. Alkaline Trio is deserving of a major label deal. The three cuts on this EP find the group (featuring Matt Skiba on guitar and vocals, Derek Grant on drums, and Dan Andriano on bass and vocals) putting forth intelligent, catchy "pop punk" (though that’s not really the best term, but think Bad Religion at their catchiest) that could easily dominate modern rock stations and win over tons of fans. But the Alkaline Trio fans are already aware of how great this group is. I went back and snagged a copy of the group’s last album From Here to Infirmary to hear some more of their work, and even it seems like a great buildup to the sounds on this EP. Skiba has one of those voices that was made to sing rock and roll and sounds terrific through and through. The infectious "Queen of Pain" highlights his vocal strengths and from there, it’s an all-too brief affair with the equally fantastic "While You’re Waiting" and "Rooftops" that only leaves one wanting for more. That is, if you’re into a band like the Alkaline Trio.

If not, you might like the sounds of Hot Water Music. Honestly, these guys reminded me of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ more punkish tendencies minus the ska bullshit and horns. Unfortunately, I’ve never been a great fan of that group because of lead singer Dicky Barrett’s throaty vocal style that often found him shouting more than screaming. Such is the case the Hot Water Music (featuring Jason Black on bass, Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard on vocals and guitars, and George Rebelo on drums). All too often the vocals are of that saliva-drenched, back-of-the-throat variety which takes out a lot of the punch of this group, whose musical abilities are as tight as the Alkaline Trio’s. Things start to calm down a bit in the singing department for the covers of "Radio" and Bleeder", but even then the former tune goes a little over the top for such a calmer exposition.

Undoubtedly, both of these groups have a great legion of fans, and deservedly so. For my money, though, Alkaline Trio wins this match. It’s hard to argue with the sounds of this band, their well thought-out lyrics ("I’m not much of a jester, but I just poison food for you / Your majesty, your royal blue" goes part of the chorus to "Queen of Pain") and musical interplay. And while Hot Water Music is not at all a bad band — their "God Deciding" is a fierce slab of emotion, I can’t help but be turned off by the singing. But that’s how it goes with these types of releases. Samplers are often a hit and miss affair, and this one is no different. Still, there will surely be fans of both, or either band(s) here to find something likable.

Pretty Good. How good? Pretty Darn.

This record has some of the best Alkaline Trio stuff to date in my opinion. The first two tracks are new and unreleased, and sound similar to their latest release on Vagrant records, “From Here To Infirmary”. Their third track is an excellent cover of Hot Water Music’s “Rooftops”, from their Some Records release titled “No Division”.

As for Hot Water Music, they cover Alkaline Trio’s “Bleeder” from their Asian Man Records release, “I lied my face off” CDEP, as well as “Radio” from another Asian Man Full Length release “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire”. Of their two previously unreleased tracks, “God Deciding” is pretty much one of the best hot water songs I have heard, but the other song, “Russian Roulette” in my opinion was a little weak.

Overall, this record was great and I am looking forward to others in the Jade Tree split series.

Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music [I]Split EP[/I] Review

touring together and courting similar pop-punk fans, Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music decided to pool forces for this seven-song EP of original material and covers. Alkaline Trio’s new material is true to their current form; the emotional, tripping-over-my-broken-heart stories are about girls and boys getting kicked in the head by their relationships. Ironically, the best song they offer on this disc is "Rooftops," a song taken from Hot Water Music’s 1999 album No Division. The song is a nice change of pace from the Trio’s usual midtempo trot through their angst-ridden world. HWM takes over for the second half of the disc, offering two original tracks and covering two of the Trio’s songs–"Radio" from Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and the aptly named "Bleeder" from Alkaline Trio. Although the differences between the two bands sound slight at first, HWM’s material feels more urgently driven by the end, mainly because of the sandpapery vocals and more forceful guitar work. Overall, this split EP doesn’t break any new ground musically, but it’s a decent item for the avid fans of either band.
Album Description:
New split E.P. features tracks that are brand new & exclusive to this release, including both bands covering each other’s songs. Jade Tree Records.

Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music [I]Split EP[/I] Review

What can I really write about Alkaline Trio or Hot Water Music that hasn’t already been written a million times over and over? There are a lot of people who will be quick to tell you how great these bands are and how much they love their music, and then there are those few who will tell you how much they don’t really enjoy them. Nonetheless, we have this EP. Does it matter what I think of Alkaline Trio or Hot Water Music? No. What matters is what they’re doing here.

There are three Alkaline Trio songs, though the last is just a cover of HWM’s "Rooftops". The cover is done fairly well and has more of an Alk3 sound to it than a HWM, per se, but nonetheless the brighter qualities of the original are still able to shine through. The first song by Alkaline Trio- "Queen of Pain"- is typical from these guys and sounds a lot like all of their many, many other songs. It kind of bores me, and the clever sort of lines that aren’t really clever such as "the stars at night are big and bright deep in your eyes" make me think that even Alkaline Trio has grown tired of themselves. But then they offer the most awesome "While You’re Waiting". Clearly the best song from the band on this EP, and yet, one of the finer songs by the band on a whole also. There’s a lot of heart in it- much like the songs that made me like Alk3 to the extent which I do right now (which isn’t a lot, but a fair amount). Lines like "you’ve been known to say that you’re a.o.k. when you’re feeling sick inside" and "’I'm not crying wolf’, you whispered, ‘I’m really dead this time’" make this song an instant classic. For most kids, these two new Alkaline Trio songs will just be addititions to their already growing by the hour massive catalog, and for others, they’ll just find some comfort in, well, one of them at least.

Hot Water Music does about equally as well as Alkaline Trio, if not better, on this split. They offer four songs- two originals and two Alkaline Trio covers. The two originals they do are great if you like Hot Water Music, and even if you’ve never really been able to get into them I think you’ll still enjoy the rock. The Alkaline Trio songs being covered by Hot Water Music are "Radio" and "Bleeder"- two Alk3 classics, mind you. The guys of HWM show off a bit on "Radio", keeping it some what true to the original, but also adding some more complicated parts. "Bleeder" is acoustic, and as one of my favorite Alk3 songs of all time, I must say this version almost surpasses the original.

Overall, I think this EP was pulled off very well. There were two very noteable and respected bands who, yet, also aren’t a part of Jade Tree (they are both now on bigger labels), and they also cover each other’s songs. The concept is genius. I just hope we continue to see more of this. Next time (or one time), can we see the Matt Smith connection EP and have Strike Anywhere and Liars Academy covering each other and offering new songs? How much would that rule?

It would have been Great if Were Just Alkaline Trio

I was surprised to learn that Jade Tree was coming out with an Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music split, and eagerly anticipated its release. Alkaline Trio lived up to my expectations with three excellent songs. Chicago’s finest followed the trend of their latest release "From Here To Infirmary", which featured mid tempo rock with splashes of punk. I especially enjoyed their cover of Hot Water Music’s "Rooftops". The vocals as usual were excellent, however, I wish they could write more uplifting lyrics once in while, as in the case of "While You’re Waiting". Meanwhile, I thought the Hot Water Music songs didn’t compare to Alk3. Hot Water Music kind of reminds me of early Alkaline Trio, as their sound is very unrefined. The instrumentation seemed to be very average emo, with the usual fare of monotonous guitar rythms. The vocals were very rough, almost scratchy in nature and very different from the polished smooth vocals of Alkaline Trio. While I know this is what Hot Water Music is like, their cover of "Radio" really jerked around a lot; their cover of "Bleeder" wasn’t much of an inprovement over the original as well. I am confident that Hot Water Music will continue to improve their sound, but they have a long way to go. Nevertheless, I’d still reccommend this to anyone who likes Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music. Jade Tree’s Split Series is a great way to showcase talented bands that aren’t normally on its label, and it’s always interesting to see different bands cover the songs of the bands they personally like.