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H2O - Nothing to Prove (Cover Artwork)

H2O

H2O: Nothing to ProveNothing to Prove (2008)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
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It took â??em seven years, but New York City hardcore heralds H2O finally put out a new album, Nothing to Prove. The title is only sort of right, in that the album's 10 songs are effortlessly catchy. Nothing to Prove may very well be the best H2O record since, well, F.T.T.W.. At the same time, though, the band has plenty to prove. They've been out of the game for a while. The group's last record, 2001's GO wasn't as well-received as older material, and even that album's defenders (this guy right here) eventually grew out of it. There's a certain point where "I Want I Want" starts to sound really stupid. It is to that extent that the band has a heck of a lot to prove: Can they still hack it? Will they embarrass themselves?

The answer to the first question is yes, sweet wow can they still hack it. Nothing to Prove is a tight album, just under 25 minutes if you factor out the talking soundbites at the end. New Found Glory's Chad Gilbert produced the record, and while the former and current labelmate's presence doesn't come through too heavily, it's the first indicator that this record means just as much to H2O's peers as it hopefully will to their fans. Guest vocals abound, with legends like Civ, Roger Miret, and Kevin Seconds showing up over and over to sing. Spoken blurbs from friends and family separate each of the tracks, ranging from anecdotes to straight-edge pledges. Nothing to Lose may be trying to re-assert the group's ability, but it feels too much like a labor of love to feel labored.

Nothing to Prove's first two songs, "1995" and the title track, are the strongest cuts. A child's voice announces the band's return with "For those that don't knowâ?¦ H2O go!" and it is awesome. Cute. But mostly awesome. An origin story, "1995" conveys H2O's wonder over its own creation through the fine art of pounding drums and crunchy guitars. Track two, "Nothing to Prove" is far away the catchiest of the bunch. When vocalist Toby Morse and friends hit the chorus of "Me and all my friends / We've got nothing to prove / Nothing to lose," it's punk perfection in less than 90 seconds.

While Nothing to Prove is certainly chock full of stompers, the lyrical choices may drive some away. H2O has never been the most eloquent hardcore band, which is made very clear on closing cut "What Happened?". An indictment of new bands for being too fashion-conscious, the song has a certain "old man hating whippersnappers" vibe. The band's directness is much better on other songs, though. "Sunday," a song about growing up without a father and then going through the anxiety of becoming one, goes right for the heart. Plus, it references Fugazi's "Waiting Room," which is always good.

Another standout is the straight-edge anthem "Still Here." It's so good it makes me (almost) regret that first pint of Chocolate Thunder at the General Lafayette Inn on my 21st birthday. The best part may be that the band never gets militant, saying, "To all the new kids / This is a way to live / It's not a passing trend / A way to fit in / I never preached shit / I just spoke my mind / To live a positive life." A proud tune that never gets preachy, "Still Here" is one of several quick shots of adrenaline.

Closing out the album is about five minutes' worth of extra conversational snippets, the highlight of which would definitely be bassist Adam Blake's top five facts you probably didn't know about H2O. I never would have guessed any of them. This ending, and really the record in general, make Nothing to Prove a celebration of H2O's life. It starts with the band's formation in 1995 and traces the band members' personal and musical paths up through 2008. Hopefully Blake was kidding when he said the band should have another record done seven years from now.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Bouncing Souls - How I Spent My Summer VacationThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimOperation Ivy - Operation IvyMinor Threat - Complete DiscographyBouncing Souls - The Gold RecordThe Loved Ones - Build & BurnThe Gaslight Anthem - Señor and the QueenDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TheGuwumpkis (April 23, 2009)

worth the wait.
H20 GO!

3pidemiC (February 2, 2009)

"You were a fair-weathered friend / You didn't have my back 'till the end".

That single lyric makes me cringe every time I hear it. I mean, they couldn't think of anything better?

kylewagoner (January 19, 2009)

I haven't listened to this album enough times to give it an accurate rating. I'm giving it a 9/10 with the benefit of the doubt. Consider it 9 give or take one. I have only had it on my iPod for a few weeks and I stumbled across "What Happened?" one day and was like "Holy shit, that's Lou from SOIA and that has to be Matt Skiba singing the bridge." It was instantly one of the best songs I've ever heard in my life. What a perfect blend of every genre of punk I love. So anyway, I'm listening to it while writing this. I plan on listening to it a lot more because it's all fuckin' good.

Ellsi (November 30, 2008)

I like this album but some of the songs are kind of sappy...

kraze (June 5, 2008)

"hey check it out, we're hardcore, were straightedge, let me tell you about it!"

That's the exact same reason why they started the abortion called Hazen St. You're old, WE GET IT!

sionna (June 4, 2008)

Couldn't be more impressed..Well worth the wait..Can't get enough..If ya don't like it don't listen, or at least keep your opinion to yourself.. I'm callin' you out for everyone to see because you look like, act like people you wanna be, I'm callin' you out for everyone to know because you look like, act like a FAKE!!

joetheinvincible (June 3, 2008)

Good album.

Anyone else find it ironic that Matt Skiba is on a track condemning make up wearing bands? I love alk3, but they are definitely very concerned with their image.

paulrulzdood (June 3, 2008)

"with so many bands out there, it's not like I'm holding on to H2O as the last bastion of music or something, ya know"

fair enough, that's really the truth.

and "threewords", I couldn't agree more, I get a bit of a "hey! hey! we're still relevant! let me tell you about it!" from this album, but...well...it has been 7 years, they are pushing 40 and they're playing a style of music that isn't totally "out" but certainly not as popular as it was in the late 90's. And they kind of had that "hey check it out, we're hardcore, were straightedge, let me tell you about it!" vibe back then too.

Paul

Threewords (June 2, 2008)

Man I love this band and maybe just had too high expectations for this release. First of all, I didn't think Go was bad at all, major label argument bullshit or not. Its for sure an h2o record. But the irony of this new record is that almost every song is about proving something to the listener. This is why we are still around, this is how i live my life, this is why i have tattoos, so on. Its very explanatory/anthologic and I almost feel that it seeks some sort of acceptance. Like they aren't 100% confindent in coming back after 7 years, have to make a statement to the newly manifest generation of bands, etc. I say it with much respect to the band as they do no wrong in my eyes, its just my take.

AnarchyPants (June 2, 2008)

This is a great album and the review does a pretty good job of explaining it.

CouchSlouch (June 2, 2008)

Saw them at Gilman St there first tour. Saw them again like 5 years ago bouncing around like bunny rabbits for 14 year girls playing some really lame tunes for a huge corporate Sony concert at the Fillmore in SF. Now their hardcore again? Maybe i'm old and jaded but i'm not buying it.

Jelone (June 2, 2008)

Paul:

While I agree that a 16-track album would have been awesome, I'm more than satisfied with the end result. Yes, 7 years is a long wait for a 25-minute record, but I'm perfectly fine with a lean album. Besides, with so many bands out there, it's not like I'm holding on to H2O as the last bastion of music or something, ya know?

paulrulzdood (June 2, 2008)

Jelone:

I don't "hate" short punk rock records, I mean really, most punk records are short by definition.

However, when a band takes 7 years to put a 25 min album out with only 10 songs...I do look at that as a negative.

As for "less talk, more rock" I never liked Propaghandi much aside from "nation states", "maniacal laughter" is far from Bouncing Souls best work (I consider "summer vacation" & "gold record" their best) and one of my only complaints with "as the eternal cowboy" AND "new wave" is their length, but at least "cowboy was put out just a little over a year after "axl rose" so its short length was justifiable by the fact that it followed closely on the heels of their debut. If H2O just put an album out in 2005, I wouldn't be as bummed about the 10 tracks, but its been 7 long years since the last H2O, which was a disapointing album itself by most accounts, so really, its been 9 years and coming that we've been waiting for the quality follow up to the not-so-short "FTTW", which was like 18 tracks if memory serves me.

If you take 7 years to make an album you gotta knock it out of the park on all fronts or why bother? one front is length. I'll take quality over quantity any day, but its my experience that a 10 track album with one or two duds tends to have a shorter life in my cd player and get relatively lost on the iPOD.

I think H2O made as good of an album as I could expect, I just figured a 14-16 track album wouldn't have been out of the question after this much time do you?

damo (June 2, 2008)

not keen. decent music but some cringeworthy bits spoil it for me

Jelone (June 2, 2008)

To all the people who hate the record's length:

Really? Ya hate short punk rock records? What's your stance on "Less Talk, More Rock?" Howsabout "Manical Laughter?" "Eternal Cowboy?"

paulrulzdood (June 2, 2008)

Overall, I'm happy with it. This has been a good year so far for veteran punk rock act comebacks, starting with the surprisingly good new Pennywise album (it certainly tops their last few albums), new NUFAN is edgier and tighter and a big step up from the ho-hum "keep them confused", Millencolin put out their best since Pennybridge in "machine 15" and now H2O come back after a 7 year absence (ok, they did put out a forgettable e.p. 6 years ago) to release an album that may not be as solid as "FTTW" but certainly at least stands up to and is in the same musical vein as their original trio of albums.

I appreciate them stripping away the unnecessary major label gloss and overly poppy ready-for-radio chorus's. I'm also happy that they didn't go completely reactionary though and put out an album full of overly tough-guy hard core mean muggin' tracks. This album strikes a nice balance between pop and hardcore, which is what made "FTTW" so popular in the first place, it appeals to hard core kids, skate punk kids and pop punk kids (and men, shit I'm 28, gotta get this "kids" thing in perspective).

Overall, I think Chad did a great job with the production, he kept it modern and glossy enough to stand up to today's overly produced punk scene (and the crappy quality of most computers that kids will be playing this on) but raw enough to capture H2O's famous energy and hardcore aspects. His NFG influence seems mostly kept in check, although he does channel some NFG hugeness to the chorus's, but hey, H2O wrote the chorus's, Chad just made them pop. Nothin wrong with that.

Here's a track by track breakdown IMHO

1995-probably the best song on the album, a ripper of an opener, great double time speed, catchy gang vocals, good classic H2O subject matter, really awesome.

Nothing to Prove-nice, short, fast little classic H20 song.

"Sunday"-awesome, second best song on the album after 1995 I'd say. Touching lyrics.

"A Thin Line" (feat. Freddy Cricien)-decent song, a little too "tough guy" for me but whatever, it's H2O

"Unconditional"-great chorus, kind of NFG like to be honest

"Still Here" (feat. Civ)-not feeling this one so much, being that I enjoy drinking and smoking a song boasting about being an "SEOG" is kind of funny to me. probably the worst song on here other than the closer.

"Fairweather Friend" (feat. Kevin Seconds & Lou Koller)-another nice huge poppy chorus

"Heart On My Sleeve"-lyrically, its a bit goofy (do people really cross the street when they see Toby? I mean, every other dude in Pittsburgh has sleeve tatoos so I just find this funny coming from a guy from NYC, but I guess maybe Toby spent some time living in, I don't know, SLC?

"Mitts"-really, probably my third favorite song, some of the better lyrics on the album and a great chorus. I'd probably make this the single if I was the guy who picks singles at the record label. Only "1995" and "sunday" come off as bigger standouts.

"What Happened" (Feat. Matt Skiba & Lou Koller) - the Skiba appearance is a bit out of left feild and weird for an H20 album and the lyrics are a bit hokey "hey I'm 38, you 16 year olds don't know shit!" stance (as the reviewer pointed out) but as juvenile as H20's lyrics can be, they make it clear their intentions and hearts are in the right place.

Only complaint is that its a bit short, after a 7 year wait, would an H20 album with maybe 14-16 tracks on it be out of the question? I admit 10 songs keeps the quality up and the flow of the album tight and concise, but maybe too concise. 25 minutes is short. its my same rational as to why I don't love Against Me!'s "new wave" or Lagwagon's "lets talk about feelings". they are incredible albums, but just too short when you rule out the one or two cuts that don't stand up.

But at least it is more hits than misses, tracks 1,2,3,5,7 & 9 are all well above average H20 songs and top pretty much everything off of "go", especially tracks 1,3,5 & 9 which are probably the best H20 songs I've heard since "one life one chance", "found the truth within" and "guilty by association".

mattramone (June 2, 2008)

*thumbs down* *fart noise*

Ass_Pirate (June 2, 2008)

Bad lyrics. Catchy music. I guess they're on par with Yellowcard.

Jelone (June 1, 2008)

It's the darkest beer I can handle. I tried their Grim Reaper once and I barely made it through. Light cannot penetrate it. Conventional weapons cannot hurt it. Fear only encourages it.

matt_whelihan (June 1, 2008)

General Lafayette Inn...

My dad's a mug club member, but I haven't tried the Chocolate Thunder yet.

breakout (June 1, 2008)

aren't there more guest appearances than tracks on this album?

vegancheesesteak (June 1, 2008)

General Lafayette Inn FTW.

punk_rawk_show (June 1, 2008)

S"O funny that everyone shits on the All We Want EP and gives this album perfect scores despite the fact that "Mitts" is just a re-recorded song off that EP with a new title. Point is that EP is not nearly as bad as people say and sounds exactly like H2O does on all of their other releases. You guys need to start formulating your own opinions and not just saying an album sucks just because everyone on punknews says it does."

So fucking true. More than half of the haters are fucking jokers.

Make up your own opinion people, you dont need to follow the sheep

rinjonjori (May 31, 2008)

I streamed this album and thought this is better than 80% of the other hardcore bands out there.. Still it's mediocre. The title in general annoys me like nothing else. They sound like ST (aka Suicidal Tendencies ) when they did the Wapred Tour. We did it becuase we need respect.. F'ing jokers.

KyACRASH (May 31, 2008)

CD is ok, not nearly as good as I was hoping for, especially after previously hearing the first two songs (probably the two best songs). I consider myself a huge H2O fan, even "All we want EP" and "Go" weren't that bad in my opinion, but this CD just doesn't do it for me, I actually prefer "Static" to "Mitts" any day.

I think what really bugs me about this CD is how much H2O feels the need to hate on "fake" people and make-up bands. If that's the case why are they friends with good charlotte? Don't get me wrong I hate music like Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy, but am I the only one who thinks a lot of their lyrics contradict each other? I mean just look at the pics in the album liner, I think H2O, or Toby at least, definitely care about image.

Oh and to Tudor: why do so many people THINK that straight edge kids care what other people do to their bodies? Unless you're my brother, I could care less what the fuck you do to yourself.

SloaneDaley (May 31, 2008)

yeah they didn't have that 7-inch when I saw them either but it sounds more CIV-ish, kind of maybe somewhere between old GB and CIV's first album. It isn't that bad but it doesn't sound like GB. I'd say it was more like Gorilla Biscuits playing songs with an influence of bands that were influenced by them in the first place. I know that makes no sense.

DrGunn (May 31, 2008)

GB never seemed to be selling that 7" when i saw them and i've never met anyone who's actually heard it. what does it sound like?

Tudor (May 31, 2008)

Why do straight edge kids care so much what other people put in their bodies?

And don't pretend like it's a "personal choice" or else it would be just that. You wouldn't proclaim your straight edge choice and made sure everyone knew it.

fox82 (May 31, 2008)

Anybody got a hold of that Gorilla Biscuits reunion tour 7"? It was horrible. THIS is what it should have sounded like and everything would be OK. Sweet sweet return to good time hardcore.

bxbomber (May 31, 2008)

Saw them last night and they really havent lost a step live.

inagreendase (May 31, 2008)

You can be honest and not sound like a 12-year-old. See: Blake Schwarzenbach.

That being said, this album's fun.

asxyouxwish (May 31, 2008)

score is for hair today, gone tomorrow.

XCARLUPANDDIEX (May 31, 2008)

i never got into H2O

maybe it's because they're too tough

branden (May 31, 2008)

bad music.

iruineverything (May 31, 2008)

SO funny that everyone shits on the All We Want EP and gives this album perfect scores despite the fact that "Mitts" is just a re-recorded song off that EP with a new title. Point is that EP is not nearly as bad as people say and sounds exactly like H2O does on all of their other releases. You guys need to start formulating your own opinions and not just saying an album sucks just because everyone on punknews says it does.

ak3punk (May 31, 2008)

This album is fucking fantastic. The moment I heard the tracks on their myspace I knew it would be great and I counted the days till it came out.

There are no filler songs, its hard, fast, catchy lyrics, the production quality is fantastic. Instant classic without a doubt. Easily the best H20 album. They pulled no punches and delivered an incredible album,

Welcome back guys...

MN_punkmaster-skaman (May 30, 2008)

This made me feel like that time had stood still for the past nine years and the music scene hasn't changed dramatically. You can interpret that anyway you want. This is nonetheless a good solid punk record. Thanks H2O for making my summer with this release. Something really good for me to skateboard and bike around town with.

Nap (May 30, 2008)

Agree with this rate. Really good, but too short. If they added two more songs (as good as the others) it could have a 9.

thomas7155 (May 30, 2008)

I second the old dude on the lyrics comment. We've got enough pretencious assholes writing "lyrics". How about some honesty. Oh, the record? I can't wait to get it.

blip (May 30, 2008)

that's toby's son!
(i think)

ozmanx (May 30, 2008)

Score is for that annoying kid in half the songs.

SST108108 (May 30, 2008)

The comment about the lyrics is exaclty what is wrong with everything in the "scene" today. What is wrong with straight forward lyrics that state exaclty what the band is about and what they want to convey instead of 18 year olds trying to be beat poets with crappy lyrics that when you ask them about it they make up some bullshit about make it your own or some lame story. Yeah I may be one of the 30 something crowd still active in the music, so I remember when most bands all had a message and sang it loud. Lyrics like this remind me why I got into hardcore some 18 years ago in the first place. Bands like H2O and Ignite have "nothing to prove" to me as they have earned that right. This album is exaclty what I expected and a hundred times better than the crap that comes out everyday.

baseball (May 30, 2008)

The songs are pretty poppy and catchy. But man, these are the WORST lyrics I have ever read. Completely ruins it. Awful, sorry.

blip (May 30, 2008)

songs are good, but the lyrics are pretty weak on a lot of 'em.

R3vengeTherapy (May 30, 2008)

Second line, first paragraph, the record title is wrong. Prove, not "Lose." EDIT, PEOPLE.

This is a solid record. Lots of fun. I more or less agree with the score. It's like 7.5 for me.

christian (May 30, 2008)

H2O
Nothing To Prove
F.T.T.W.
Thicker Than Water
. . .
Go

red_eye_inc (May 30, 2008)

Roughly three minutes of new material a year? Give them another five years before a plonk down full album cash, this shit is just too short.

telegraphrocks (May 30, 2008)

This record is so damn fun. 10 songs, 22 minutes... NO FILLER!
GREAT!

And "Go!" was, and still is, good.... just not THIS good.

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