Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reasons to be Emo(core) #150: Hot Water Music – Moonpies for Misfits

'Moments Pass’ from Moonpies for Misfits (EP), No Idea Records 1999.

Choosing A Flight and a Crash as one of the standard bearers of punk rock in the 21st century didn’t go down too well, but by and large I stand by my choice. However, I am a bona fide fan of old school Hot Water Music, and yes, I could see Forever and Counting (vinyl repress in the mail!) as my favourite too, or Fuel for the Hate Game, or No Division. Moonpies for Misfits is a four-song EP that fits, musically, in between Forever and Counting and No Division (it was released on the No Idea label in the same year, 1999, as the latter album was on Some Records).

It may not be the very best HWM record (for that, see above) but it’s still almost perfect in its own way. I found this review on Amazon which sums it up pretty well:

“The little DIY outfit from Gainesville that could. Hot Water Music have kept their integrity intact throughout their rise from Florida emo-core legends to mid-major label rising stars. This EP offers 4 songs from an era when the band was just blooming and realizing the extent of their artistic ability...”

Or, more generally, consult the emo non-bible that is Fourfa, which says (in reference to Finding the Rhythms/Fuel For the Hate Game, which is a few years earlier, but still the old Hot Water Music style):

“Takes the best of the Fuel/Fugazi twin vocal/twin guitar drive and adds a sweaty Avail pop-punk pulse, with scratchy, gruff singing that doesn't need to be beautiful to get the point across. This band positively embarrasses bands with only one singer.”

If you want a great overview of the Hot Water Music sound from Finding the Rhythms up until No Division (and including a brief diversion into the Blacktop Cadence’s Chemistry for Changing Times), head over to Music for the Working Man and download the two podcasts available there. Mostly, he lets the music speak for itself, but adds in some of the story too and - best of all – isn’t afraid to say the word ‘emo’ or ‘emocore’.


’Moments Pass’ opens up Moonpies for Misfits with a relatively unusual, for Hot Water Music, sideswipe of feedback - and then kicks, or rather chugs, into life. Sometimes earlier HWM sounds too dense, too full of weight, to be easily accessible – and this might turn a lot of people off – but what this song demonstrates is the melody suffused into the hardcore drive, a legacy of the ‘emocore’ genre in general and of the album Forever and Counting in particular. ‘Moments Pass’ is a song about seizing life as it comes, or as the liner notes to Live at The Hardback say: “this song is about taking advantage of the time we have with our friends or loved ones now. Mainly because we never know what tomorrow will unfold.”

and up to yours to sit down for a fucking cup of coffee and shoot the shit.

‘Another Way’ is one of Hot Water Music’s personal/political songs, like ‘A Clear Line’ from A Flight and a Crash. “Say what’s wrong with this way, beside the fact it’s not in the book you read”. Independence, tolerance, plurality and “no division” are all elements of the Hot Water Music philosophy; but it’s personal too, a way to live one’s own life in co-existence and in community with others, despite all the difficulties inherent in that approach. E pluribus unum, and all that. I’m not sure if I should really mention Obama (again) here, but from what I see the US has immensely polarised politics – compared to a broadly social democratic Europe, at least – and this is something punk hasn’t often helped with. Often with good reason, of course, but I’d much rather see an emergence of Obama (left of-)centrism than a re-run of anti-Reagan (and anti-Bush) punk rock with McCain as presidential hate figure.

"Day by day we all change. Systems change.

So why can’t we accept other ways, in respect

to learn for our own?"

‘Where We Belong’ is a relationship song, a “song as a story of a crucial turning point in two people’s lives. Two people who found a peace through love they thought they would never know and learned how to keep it… from rooftops then, to rooftops now we’ve seen why we’re still here and who we’re both about…” (Live at The Hardback liner notes.) A lot of this song sounds more like Fuel For the Hate Game, a rawer, rougher sound, before it moves into a meandering, melodic passage straight out of Forever and Counting. Climbing and building, ever upward and rhythmically.

Start now. Start right. Stay strong. Stay tight.

And we can rise side by side."

'Moonpies for Misfits' is another song that tells a story, of change from youthful arrogance/indifference to similar but more mellowed adulthood, still as strong and as forthright but more lastingly so: "face to face here we stand strong, but this time we stand for good". It's the quintessential post-hardcore song, the sound and the attitude from after the heady excesses of punk. Just as heavy - though a slower song than the other three - and fundamentally moving, it also has that profound sense of repose, of position, of difficult calm, that inhabits Hot Water Music's best work.

"...We used used to tear it up reckless.

Moonpies for misfits with no cares.

You got that right, I said.

We're still here.

Scarred, but here.

But, then again, we were invincible then.

We're still here.

Just not like then."


Moonpies for Misfits*

1. Moments Pass

2. Another Way

3. Where We Belong

4. Moonpies for Misfits

Live at the Hardback

5. Moments Pass (live)

6. Where We Belong (live)


Moonpies for Misfits is out of print at No Idea, but plenty of copies are still available on Amazon. Live at The Hardback is still for sale on vinyl or CD from No Idea.

* Moonpies, for non (Southeastern?)-Americans, are a trademark type of biscuit (‘cookie’) consisting of two round Graham crackers sandwiching a marshmallow and dipped in chocolate. The English translation of ‘Moonpies for Misfits’ would essentially be ‘Wagon Wheels for Wankers’.


(Click to expand & read liner notes)


A final note on the cover artwork. Just looking at it on the screen now, it's amazing. There are equally good Hot Water Music covers, such as the discombobulated man on A Flight and A Crash or the bellicose mutants on the front of Fuel for the Hate Game. In fact, all their album covers are of superbly high quality - because they are all done by the same artist, Scott Sinclair (SINC, as you can see in the corner.)

It's a pity, because of the high quality, that there isn't much on the internet about Sinclair's work - although he is a professional artist. He has a Myspace and a website in construction (there's nothing there at the moment, other than a damn cool title picture). I remember he used to have a site where one could look at a variety of his work, HWM and non-HWM.

I'm no art critic, but I guess I could describe SINC's style as a sort of modernist, semi-cubist form. Although it has evolved just as much as the band's sound, it has always matched Hot Water Music's vibe: hard edges, muted colours, but a whole lotta feeling and pathos put into the image. 'Moonpies for Misfits' has the one central figure, a man stripped to the waist and apparently carrying a pick-axe. In its stance, it could almost seem like a Socialist Realist tableau - but the figure appears just as skinny and emaciated as it does muscular - more Picasso-like. SINC's artworks, particularly his skeletal, awkard male forms, often put me in mind of Picasso's The Old Guitarist - although it's a Blue Period painting, not (directly) a Cubist one. Either way, there's that sense of physical tragedy, of the conflict between the weaknesses and strengths of the human form.

SINC's figure stands against an abstract background of back-and-forth arrows, all except one bright red arrow painted in muted colours. But they are not so abstract as to be unreal - the figure casts a definite (and harsh) shadow against them. All surfaces exhibit the same coarse painted texture, except for the figure's trousers and the upper block of the image, which are scoured rough, lending the whole a tactile but indistinct feeling. In front of the other elements, white shapes fall from the sky, their identity ambiguous - they could be raindrops, feathers or leaves. Finally, whatever they are, they reflect the same pallid white glow as comes from the bare torso and head of the figure, and the understated but by now emblematic rough lower-case text of 'hot water music' in the upper left.

The link above to 'The Old Guitarist' includes a modernist poem, possibly inspired by the painting, and written by American poet Wallace Stevens, 'The Man with the Blue Guitar'. The first six lines:

"The man bent over his guitar,

A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,

You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are

Are changed upon the blue guitar."

I'd like to think that the painting and the poem both reflect something of Hot Water Music. What exactly though, I'm not sure.


Ape Mummy said...

Now you're talking! Moonpies came out around the time of the first HWM awful sad time for a kid in Baltimore who'd worn out his 12" of Forever & Counting. I always felt like the two 7"s worked better, as opposed to a 4 song CD single. It was ultimately more engaging. I'd imagine that this was taken out of print once the newest singles collection came out.

For the record, Moon Pies are to be eaten with a RC Cola, or, in a pinch, Dr. Pepper can be substituted. It's no peanuts in your Coke, put it's damn fine eatin'.

cretin said...

another one of those bands I should spend some more time listening to, as I could see some of their stuff really growing on me, a la jawbreaker. anyway, this post convinved me to spend the day (or at least the last hour; I don't have that much by them) getting better acquainted with HWM. personally, I'd have to say I like the cleaner stuff by them, as opposed to the rougher sounds of the 'moonpies for misfits' EP. it's not bad, but it doesn't jump out at me or anything (but then again, that's been my default first-listen opinion on most everything I've heard by hot water music).

lex dexter said...

thanks for re-introducing me to these guys... I only ever had that Leatherface split.

btw Gabba, being from across the Pond, i wonder if yr familiar with the Atlanta emo scene of the early-mid 1990s? you should check out, the blog of a member of hal al shedad, one of the most amazing rock groups of them 1990s.

gabbagabbahey said...

ape mummy - I think this was out of print before Yill The Wheels Fall Off came out... I bought this several years ago from No Idea and I think I noticed it had gone OOP sometime since. The collection omits 'Where We Belong', too... which 7" did that come with?... it's kind of selective, as it only has 'Caught Up', 'Wrong and Righteous' and 'Take It As It Comes' from the Leatherface BYO Split.

I usually associate the initials RC with 'Roman Catholic', so the idea of a denomination-specific cola amused me. But I went on Wikipedia and duly confirmed your record... apparently Moon Pies and RC Cola became known as the 'working man's lunch' (don't know how much work you can do when you're perpetually hyperactive and malnourished, but hey, different times!). I remember the RC/Dr. Pepper gag from Family Guy, too.

Peanuts and cola sounds absoluting disgusting as well, by the way.

- cretin. No Division is a good bridge between the two sounds.

- lex, your welcome. thanks for the link, I can see a few things there I'm interested in checking out, even though I have little or no knowledge of Atlanta in the mid 90s!

Ape Mummy said...

No way, boiled peanuts & a cold Coke are the shit, not shitty, as one may assume. It's a Southern thing...the equivalent of whatever crazy nonsense most Americans turn their noses up to from the UK. Lex, you're from Atlanta, right? Back me up here...

I think the reason I still haven't picked up a copy of Wheels is because it omitted a number of late-period HWM. Plus, I think I still own everything on that record.

Cretin, not for nothing, but how the hell do you get into punk rock, but leave Jawbreaker behind in your beginning lessons? Or am I totally misreading your comments, on account of having a cold?

Ape Mummy said...

Oh, yeah, if the opportunity strikes, check out my new thing:

*#..(brad said...

this is the first time i've listened to hwm, good stuff. I'll probably check out some more. I suck at being a punx. no jawbreaker for me. :(

cretin said...

actually, I was just referring to how Jawbreaker grew on me upon subsequent listens, but now that you mention it it did take me a surprisingly long time to get into them, well after my initial introduction to punk. dunno why, exactly. apathy, maybe?

*#..(brad said...

i know there are plenty of great bands out there, but i try to concentrate and appreciate one artist at a time. i'm really trying to cut back on my music exploration so i can listen to this stockpile of music i'm sitting on. i've just came out of my late 90's/current screamo and semi-powerviolence stage so i'll see what will happen. by stage i don't mean "this isn't cool anymore" or something, i just delve into certain things for a while then look for other things..... i guess this pertains meanin to jawbreaker and hot water music and undiscovered music in general.

lex dexter said...


OT, btw... check out the Hal al Shedad live at WREK recordings. they will rock you.

Ape Mummy said...

Like I said, Brad & Cretin, not ball breaking. Just more curious. And I totally understand. It took me about 10 years to get past the makeup and actually get into the Misfits. Your ears change with time.

gabbagabbahey said...

- lex, have them earmarked.

- ape, great, I shall put it in the blogroll directly!

I guess I could try that peanuts and coke thing, just out of curiosity (with Dr. Pepper, we don't have RC Cola here obviously... and roughly how much peanuts? one of the small bar packs? boiled?!? salted, okay. still seems like a waste of a good bottle of cola though). I'm sure British and Irish culture has some weird foods, but I can't think of anything that combines sweet and salty like that... while I hear Americans put maple syrup on their bacon? Separately, great foods - if you eat meat, in the latter case - but together, obscene :)

anyway, music... yeah, I actually came to Jawbreaker late too in the context of the other stuff I listened too. kinda good though, because on first listen it seemed like an awesome mixture of Green Day + (good) emo. totally not like MCR or something like that which is Green Day + (bad) emo.

sweet baby jaysus said...

gabba, i have to back the peanuts and coke up, it is a southern thing, drop em in the bottle and let it do it's magic. it's kind of like an energy drink in a weird way. same thing for the moon pies and rc cola. it may sound like the nastiest thing you could ever do until you dive right ion and realize it's the best thing ever.
that said, glad to see the emo talk is going strong.
i really should post something on the blog soon. damn this busy life.

lex dexter said...

jawbreaker's 24-hour revenge therapy clearly rates a mention in everybody's top 5 "punk" albs of the 90s, right?

for me, that list is occupied by jawbreaker, unwound, the new bomb turks, fugazi.... i suppose this is utterly futile, seeing as how the parameters for what does/does not constitute "punk" were already endlessly fucked by the 1990s.

oh well... great bleeping thread!

gabba, we should organize a speaking tour of the US South for you. WaffleHouses aren't known for their grilled cheese sandwiches, but believe me they'll blow yr mind.


lex dexter said...

and yeah sweetbabyjaysus, i know i speak for everybody when i say that, shucks, time permitting, it'd be real nice if you posted again.

Chris said...

i always had problems listening to early HWM. I never understood what people saw in them. But when I heard Moonpies and No Division and Flight and a Crash I got it. I felt the same passion that others were pulling from these passionate Floridians. However I still have problems listening to the earlier albums... mainly because of the recording quality... the bass especially. I don't know why.. there aren't many bands that I'm an audio snob towards and I truely appreciate poor quality. just these guys for some reason. thanks for the ep, also 3 of these songs are included in the new collection thats out. for some reason, 1 was left off??

*#..(brad said...

gab, your banner made me want to listen to dookie again. i never thought i would ever say that.

gabbagabbahey said...

- sbj. yes, do post! you started a lot of the emo talk, anyway.

- lex. kinda of mirroring the clean/not clean discussion of HWM, I always preferred Dear You to the earlier Jawbreaker stuff. And yes, I like Jets to Brazil too. But the early stuff is very good. Got Etc. recently and it's pretty rocking.

I feel I need to get a Northerner to contribute to this culinary thread. Is that the right word? Yankee?

I can definitely get behind grilled cheese sandwiches though. However, the French do them best... the croque monsieur and croque madame.

-chris. I know where you're coming from. it took me a little while to get into the albums before No Division as much as I am into them. Forever and Counting is a pretty sonically amazing album though, for what they do with their basic sound. A Flight and a Crash is such a well produced album though, it definitely marks a sea-change in their sound. I guess you could think of the stuff preceding as like the work of Spot for Husker Du.

- brad. glad the banner is having some effect. I should do some more with subtle promotions wound up in them.

*#..(brad said...

subliminal messaging.

gabbagabbahey said...

shhh! don't let the people know!

lex dexter said...

dare i ask if you like braid/hey mercedes? everybody's gag reflex with Midwestern emo is a little bit different. for me, the Get-Up Kids are where things get to saccharine and i need to get off the fucking lorry.

gabbagabbahey said...

from what I've heard of braid, I neither particularly love 'em or hate 'em. I've just never really gone down that road of emo, I guess.

and everybody, I hope to be making posts again from possibly tomorrow.

sweet baby jaysus said...

lex - 24 hour is one of the best records of the nineties. period. i actually just listened to it while on my five mile bike ride home in the rain from work, and as per usual it rocked me in ways words can't describe. as for braid...braid were amazing, granted they stole their sound from Gauge, but hey things happen and Gauge broke up way too early. Someone had to fill in those shoes. I followed them on tour for a few days culminating with a show i had booked for them in a park. On record they were good, live they would blow your mind. hey mercedes on the other hand were a little played out by the time they arrived, it was basically braid without the aggression. couldn't get into it at all. kind of the like the get up kids. except i never got into a screaming match after a sunny day real estate concert with hey mercedes. fuck the get up kids, smarmy ass frat boy fucks. same goes for coalesce, sure they might have made some tough records, but they were all a bunch of spoiled rich white kids cashing in on the hardcore boom of the mid nineties. sorry for the rant.
and hey...i did find time to post one record! haha. kudos to me.
gabba - you definitely need to come to the states and explore the covered and smothered glory that is waffle house. as long as you stay clear of topped, you'll totally be fine. waffle house 4 eva.

*#..(brad said...

i just dug out dookie of a bin full of old cd's in my parent bedroom, i found dude ranch too. junior high ftw.

.Music For The Working Man. said...

Thanks for the plug...i really need to go back and finish the series on hot water music. i just wanted to say good job on the post... i will send you an email that answers all of the things we talked about in the email. yeah but once again good job on the post...

gabbagabbahey said...

re: odd food combinations -

key line: "We added a few things that go well with ordinary salt... popcorn, French fries, and — for the Southerners in the audience — watermelon"

sbj - again, the French do waffles - gaufres - pretty well. and the Belgians, too.

Is Gauge the Sweater Weather/Radio Flyer Gauge from Chicago? 'cos I do like them.

gabbagabbahey said...

that link should end "/taste_test_j_ds_bacon_salt"

It's Kosher and vegetarian, btw.

lex dexter said...

i agree on braid... in particular i think _octeen_ and _frame and canvas_ really stand up. 'never got to see them live, and still haven't heard guage (?) somehow. 'need to fix that. i always braid of them as boys life with less noise and more hooks, but ultimately i think they arrived at their own sound.

i liked Hey Mercedes kind of despite themselves. i couldn't NOT read it as a semi-cynical attempt to get huge by turning up the POP meter, but by the time it was happening - the last alb in particular - i found myself thinking that Nanna was kinda qualified to be delivering those goods.

was there a coalesce/casket lottery connection or am i completely making that up? what about friction? the sky corvair?

also, weird. a friend just moved out here (Eugene, OR) for grad school... one night he takes me out for karaoke with his cohort and lo and behold there's a guy in the crowd who was in either Sweater Weather or Days in December (can't remember which).

sweet baby jaysus said...

yeah, Guage is the same as the Sweater Weather/Radio Flyer/Euphone kids. I think i might still have a working link up on the blog, but if not i can re-up it, definitely worth checking out if you haven't heard them before.

lex dexter said...

i had no IDEA there was a euphone/radio flyer connection.

gabbagabbahey said...

lex - from Epitonic: "Radio Flyer is an unbelievable weeklong collaboration between Alex Dunham (formerly of Hoover and Regulatorwatts), Kevin Frank (Gauge, Traluma, Sweater Weather), Ryan Rapsys (Euphone, Gauge), and Paul Obrecht (Sweater Weather)."

and sbj, I've only heard Fire Tongue Breathing Stomach from Gauge, though it was pretty good. I have Soothe but only in m4a at the moment. I should definitely make the effort to listen to it then?

and oh yeah, I tried the peanuts and cola thing this afternoon. I'm told I should do a proper post on it, so all I'll say now is that it wasn't that bad at all, though it wasn't that good either.
Question: how familiar are Southerners, in general, with the taste of seawater?

sweet baby jaysus said...

seriously, bust out the Soothe, while everything Gauge released was good, Soothe was the masterpiece that time (and a great deal of people) forgot.

Vincent said...

what a fabulous record this is.

Anonymous said...