Critic's Pick

This Gainesville outfit's ascent to punk-rock prominence from its founding in 1994 has been hard won. After building an impressive pile of vinyl on at least eight different labels (but mostly on its hometown No Idea Records), touring compulsively, and breaking up once, HWM has finally reached a goal to which any self-respecting, do-it-yourself, van-driving, guitar-toting emo-boy band should aspire: a deal with Epitaph. A Flight and a Crash, the group's just-released first offering on the seminal punk label, brims with the same pit-friendly-yet-sensitive fare familiar to fans of their No Idea stuff. George Rebelo's authoritative drumming still underpins a sophisticated yet gutsy melodic interplay among Chuck Ragan's and Chris Wollard's guitars and Jason Black's bass. Although Hot Water Music's ground-floor cred may be watered down somewhat (voice lessons??), the formerly hoarse desperation of the band's tag-team singers may well attract a wider audience.

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