The Hot Six – New Blue EP

The Hot Six
New Blue EP

At first listen, Orlando’s The Hot Six (not to be confused with Boston’s more eclectic and accomplished The Lot Six) are another in a long line of art-damaged, melodically abrasive post-punksters occupying the same musical space as the likes of Fugazi, Jawbox, and Rye Coalition. But further inspection reveals an old twist on a modern formula: a tip of the hat to classic riff-and-groove bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Steppenwolf that adds elements of blues and straightforward rock-n-roll to their otherwise angular proceedings. While not exactly revolutionary, the band manages to keep things fresh and appealing by turning out powerful, edgy, emotive music with buckets full of raging intensity. With such tight-wound ferocity and fervid passion, the talented trio are no less for breaking new ground. In fact, New Blue is positively sizzling.
The five-song EP starts off strongly with the down-and-out scorcher “Kiss Without the Makeup,” a boisterous blend of churning, corrosive guitar riffs, barked vocals, and raw energy that manages to meld the scathing urgency of At the Drive-In with the liberating rebelliousness of “Born to be Wild.” This is one of those incendiary songs that just begs to be played at ear-splitting volume, so you can safely ignore your neighbors’ angry banging while you make a spastic fool of yourself playing air-guitar in your living room. “Moves the Kids Aren’t Ready For” is another surefire cranker, a searing, sonic gem that showcases the post-punk trademark tension-and-release and spine-tingling swelling groove dynamics. Monster bassist Jeffrey Howard seems intent on being much more than a mere conduit of rhythm, weaving thick buoyant lines reminiscent of Frederick Erksine’s excellent pre-June of ’44 work in Hoover and The Crownhate Ruin. Howard’s precise, pulverizing emissions pulse like well-oiled pistons beneath Phil Longo’s gnashing, strident guitar/gritty vocal assault and John Duvoisin’s relentless breakneck backbeat.
Proving that they are no one-trick pony, The Hot Six step away from the bombast and move into more stark and somber territory with the anguished burn-and-brood of the simmering “Sheen in Shambles.” Longo’s hushed vocals and sprawling atmospheric guitars take on a dreamy Slintish quality that is complimented nicely by Howard’s slithering, serpentine bassline. An eerie Doors-esque organ rings faintly in the background like some portentious sign of impending danger, adding some well-measured color and texture, before the song explodes unexpectedly into a thundering chorus. The jagged, slashing “Her Majesty the Heartbreaker” is another urgent, razor-sharp corker while the caustic and vicious closer, “Octopus Motor,” is a seething amalgam of blistering guitars, throbbing bass, and tight/ taut rhythms that packs knives.
New Blue virtually screams Dischord. It’s a fair bet to say that The Hot Six would be a likely signing to the venerable punk label if the band resided anywhere near the DC area. But unlike many of their capitol city contemporaries, the group does not seem interested in eschewing socio-political rants or espousing deep, philosophical treatises. Despite his impassioned delivery, a close look a Longo’s slightly surreal lyrics reveals a welcome plainspoken wit that ranges from the merely observational to the downright silly (“I saw her face in my mind / floating in the air / Joan Jett I love you / I turned around / it was Lita Ford.”). Perhaps it’s all the cartoon imagery and amusement park fanaticism that consumes their hometown, but the emphasis here is on manic, roller-coaster style energy and good old-fashioned, tear-the-house-down fun. Yes, The Hot Six are just that – hot, and in every sense of the word: burning, boiling, broiling, smoking, simmering, smoldering, searing, scorching…you get the picture, right? Good. Now go get the album.