Nothing To Prove

Written by: PP on 16/07/2008 18:40:16

Hands up how many of you know H2O, the highly influential melodic hardcore / punk rock band from New York? Don\'t feel ashamed if you don\'t, because I was in the same boat as you until I read that Hayley (Paramore) mentioned them in a recent interview (*blush*) as a huge inspiration. Well, I got intrigued and went back to check out their material, and got my hands on their fifth - their first in seven years - studio album \"Nothing To Prove\", a cracking melodic punk rock attack on the state of the scene today.

Like the album title already hints, the band has nothing to prove to no one, and writes music solely from devotion and passion to punk rock. You can hear it in the posi-core three chord riffage, the semi-scratchy clean vocals (and the gang vocals) that have more attitude than all emo bands put together, and the overall soundscape which just oozes of the kind of energy you\'ll only find at the most intimate of the intimate punk rock shows. So basically raw, high-octane punk rock straight from the mid 90s in 2008.

The speedy \"1995\" opens the album with a story about how things where back in the day: \"So fresh, so clean, back then there was a scene, that\'s when the music meant the most to me... this is the only life I want to live, in 1995\". I\'d be lying if I didn\'t say I sometimes wish I were spending my early 20s in that golden era of punk rock, where almost all the classics within the genre were written. And if the band were writing as effective punk rock back then as the songs on \"Nothing To Prove\", I\'m sure that some H2O releases are among the aforementioned \"classics\". But that you could tell from the star-laden guest lineup the band has booked for the record. Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret guests on the title track, and Madball vocalist Freddy Cricien sings a verse on a melodic NYHC track \"A Thin Line\" about fake people. Even the Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba appears, but more on that later.

There\'s a few reasons why the stars have signed up to record with H2O. One is the whole punk rock / hardcore family ideology that so many bands in these genres profess, and the second is that H2O writes freaking infectiously catchy songs (catchier than most pop punk bands these days!) without sacrificing any of their raw, rumbling guitar sound, gang vocal bits, or even a bit of their breakneck speed. See \"Unconditional\" for a great example.

I guess my hand is already visible on the table, but I\'ll say it anyway: one of H2O\'s biggest strengths is their ability to write honest, engaging lyrics which, although critical of the whole \'scene\', are easy to relate to and sing along to. The album closer \"What Happened?\" showcases best how their lyrics are simplistic, but yet fiercely accurate:

\"When it began, for those who don\'t know, it didn\'t matter how you looked or what you wore to a show [...] but now the biggest part, is all about the image and not the art, fashion before passion [...] what happened to the passion, what happened to the reason for screaming, what happened to the music and the message that I loved? What happened to the hard work, why does everybody look the same\"

Funnily enough, I\'ve found myself thinking along the same lines for a couple of years now. But as if the great lyrics weren\'t enough, Matt Skiba jumps into the last verse with his familiar melodic croon, showing just how great of a singer he is, easily making the song the best one on the record.

\"Nothing To Prove\", ironically, proves exactly why every punk rock fan needs to know H2O. Whether it\'s this release or one of their past releases doesn\'t matter. It\'s more important to understand where the genre started and where it was in the mid 90s, as it acts as a great reference point for today\'s punk rock bands: the message is always as important as the music, and the music should always be \"written from devotion, not ambition, not for fame\", to quote NOFX from \"Dinosaurs Will Die\".


Download: What Happened?, 1995, Nothing To Prove
For the fans of: Good Clean Fun, Kid Dynamite, Daggermouth, Set Your Goals
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.05.2008
Bridge 9 Records

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