Hot Water Music - Til the Wheels Fall Off (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hot Water Music

Til the Wheels Fall Off (2008)

No Idea

The title that adorns Hot Water Music's second rarities album is a bit of a misnomer, since the band's proverbial wheels have been reattached for sporadic reunion shows that have occurred over this past year or so. Does that really matter, though? Nope. What matters is that Til the Wheels Fall Off is a very strong collection compiling EP, splits and rarity tracks in one gruff punk rock release á la Cocktails & Dreams.

The first five are all unreleased songs from the Epitaph era. You can hear why "Last Goodbye" didn't make The New What Next, due to a very shaky and abrupt transition from verse to chorus, but that chorus is dope; Chris Wollard can be found earnestly signing "Everyone has their hands over their hearts / giving all their best advice... / It's no quick flight." These songs overall aren't bad at all, but it's tough to admit that they are pretty forgettable overall, this coming from someone who ranks Caution and The New What Next atop the band's discography.

The production immediately then becomes a little more roughshod, as up next are the excellent songs off their split with Alkaline Trio, including the depressing and even more glass shard-laden cover of Alk3's "Radio." The strummed opening of "Russian Roulette" hints at Chuck Ragan's solo work to follow, then chugs along with the full band at a briskly mid-tempo shake.

Following is the older split with Leatherface as well as a bunch of compilation tracks, with the Moonpies for Misfits EP sandwiched somewhere in there. That bass-plucked "Moonpies" song still rules, and you'll probably recognize a few of the comp tracks -- "Wayfarer," for one, which means contributions to Punk-o-Ramas made it onto here as well. Their covers of Circle Jerks' "Wild in the Streets" and the Clash's "The Clampdown" stand out mighty, too, pulled off with a funny sense of reckless abandon that's not really apparent anywhere else on the CD.

There are tons of Hot Water Music fans who find their pre- or post-signing to Epitaph era vastly superior than the other. With Til the Wheels Off pulling together the lost and less-noticed songs of both times, what results is a very solid and surprisingly cohesive release that should please both crowds.

Kill the Night
Last Goodbyes
Seein' Diamonds