Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Written by: PP on 26/02/2016 00:02:47
Ship Thieves is everything Hot Water Music fans have been waiting for if you removed Chuck Ragan from the equation. Literally. It is namely the band by the other HWM vocalist/guitarist Chris Wollard, whose voice has taken a similar aging, roughened, whiskey-drenched old man turn as Ragan did for "Exister" in 2012. The unit, which also features Samiam's bassist Chad Darby, have released two albums in the past under the longer moniker of Chris Wollard And The Ship Thieves, where the debut album was a more acoustic, folksy affair as solo records tend to be, but already on sophomore album "Canyons" four years ago they began a transformation towards a similarly roughened, original post-hardcore inspired punk rock sound as Hot Water Music became known for throughout the 90s and 2000s. Third album "No Anchor" completes that evolution alongside the announcement that HWM is essentially on hiatus as Wollard pronounced Ship Thieves as his primary songwriting outlet, which is bad news for anyone waiting for a follow-up to "Exister" anytime soon, but good news for anyone who preferred the seminal "Caution"-era for the band.
Why? Because the differences between that album and "No Anchor" are minimal in nature. Although Ragan's charismatic whiskey-fueled roars are missing, Wollard takes the driver's seat in similar fashion with a gravelly beard punk roar that underlines his vocal talent, placing it in a much bigger spotlight than on Hot Water Music albums where it was often overshadowed by Ragan's charismatic lines. As a result many tracks--such as "Rotations", "Middle Man", or "Born Into This"--sound like they're quintessential Hot Water Music songs with especially the latter paying tribute to the "Caution"-era tunes in a familiar, nostalgia-driven expression. Together with Darby, Wollard channels the signature soundscape as an inspiration, resulting in a dynamic sound of thick, depth-laden punk rock, laced with a melodic ring yet encompassed in dark guitar twists and curls. The riff composition is intricate, but driving in its nature, ensuring a solid punk rock tempo but giving enough texture and detail to rise above most peers in terms of quality of song.
With charismatic roars and infectious choruses lurking just underneath the densely packed expression's surface, "No Anchor" promises exactly the same reward as repeated active listens of Hot Water Music material: original post-hardcore/punk hybrid diamonds in the rough, not bothered by unnecessary polish but where great songwriting and composition is at the forefront. Much like the other HWM side project The Draft, or their little brothers in Small Brown Bike or the more modern incarnation in Make Do And Mend, Ship Thieves excel in writing intellectually-charged punk rock 90s style with a post-hardcore base that separates them from the pack. As its accompanying press release so finely puts it, "No Anchor" is your favorite Hot Water Music record you've never heard before.
Download: Born Into This, Middle Man, No Anchor, Dark Days
For the fans of: Hot Water Music, The Draft, Small Brown Bike, Jawbreaker, Make Do And Mend
Release date 29.01.2016
No Idea Records