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Review

Florida's emo-rock mainstays Hot Water Music built their lengthy career on the power and intensity of their live show, logging countless miles, shows, and overseas jaunts since their humble mid-'90s beginnings. In 2008 the band holed up in Chicago's heralded live music venue The Metro for a two-night stay, recording the sets and releasing the results as Live in Chicago. This lengthy live album includes a staggering 30 songs from the two-night stand, touching on almost every era of the group's discography. While singer Chuck Ragan's raspy growl and the rhythm section's watertight precision are trademarks of Hot Water Music's sound, the context of this monolithic album spotlights their melodic songwriting and furious guitar work, especially on the catchier songs like "Trusty Chords" and "Just Don't Say You Lost It," where power pop meets the more tuneful side of emo's explosive declaration. This isn't the band's first live album, as it follows the scrappier 1999 offering Live at the Hardback, but almost a decade later Hot Water Music sound more like the seasoned touring machine they grew to be than the basement punk show heroes they started off as. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi

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