Any Hot Drinks – 3223 – EP Review
Here’s a lil’ something different for ya!
Intentionally different too for that matter…I’m not just saying that in some kind of awkward way to get around the fact that Any Hot Drinks ain’t exactly what you’d find on the surface of the mainstream. These dudes are settin’ themselves up to be underground champions, and I suspect they carry that distinction as a badge of honor after all I’ve heard. This Newcastle, UK-based trio houses the talents of Matthew Robson (Guitar), Mauro Amatosi (Bass), and Jack Nicholls (Drums). You can see a microphone in front of Matthew in the videos they’ve put out too…so I’m gonna assume that’s him singing these tunes, even though that role ain’t specified in the details of the liner-notes and such. You might even remember these dudes from showing up on our pages last year with the single “Truncheon Meat” back in the ol’ summer of 2022, or from playing their advance single on the SBS Podcast for ya on air in June.
Word on the street is that they’ve got a brand-new record coming out on February 3rd…it’s called 3223. Is that a nod towards Rush’s 2112 album? Seems pretty likely to me, but I’ll let you be the judge on that.
Gotta love those bass-lines at the very beginning of “Highline” as the record starts…that should get plenty of people listening right off the drop – and I felt like the vocals on this track came out really strong as 3223 opened up. Actually reminded me quite a bit of the lesser-known cuts from Bloc Party in many ways…the more artistically-inclined cuts that don’t exactly end up being the hits, but provide a satisfying listen for sure. While it’s tougher to say there’s quite enough variation to be found inside of the nearly four-minutes to keep the masses as entertained as they wanna be in the modern-day era of short attention spans & all…I kind of actually suspect that, after having had a healthy listen to this EP over the past while, that Any Hot Drinks likely aims more to be known for playing live than anything else. No doubt though, it’s a quality start that has plenty of smooth fluidity, stunning searing tones, and a fresh energy to it that puts you in the mood for music that tells a story and is unafraid to be different.
The first of three seven-minutes-plus tunes found on this record is “Dreaming The Myth” – Any Hot Drinks has got 3223 split down the middle in the sense that there are three longer cuts like this one, and three that hover between about 4:00-4:30-ish for six total. “Dreaming The Myth” starts out with a healthy dose of instrumental space…I think it’s around the 2:20 mark where you’ll hear the vocals come into play for the first time in this tune. Interesting choice of how to tackle it from there…it becomes more of like…I mean…damn…it’s nearly a kind of Rock-opera in the way they approach it. For as gritty as their sound tends to be overall, I think a lot of people will be shocked to find the dimension and depth they pack into these artistically-ambitious tunes as well. I ain’t gonna be the guy to lie to ya and tell you that Any Hot Drinks is gonna be for everyone…I don’t think that’s honestly the case here, but music rarely is suited for one and all to begin with, so there’s that. In my opinion, if you’re a true fan of the underground…the Alt/Rock & Progressive cuts that tend to be found below the surface of the mainstream, chances are you’ll have no problem at all digging on what this band creates. “Dreaming The Myth” is oddly impressive in many ways…it’s the kind of track you’re almost surprised that they followed through on given that it doesn’t really contain any typical hooks, but the sense of adventurism you find in how this song unfolds overall proves that it was well worth the effort. Great atmosphere.
“Christ’s Pilate” just got the most recent video treatment from Any Hot Drinks as they make their way towards the official release of this album coming up in February. Let’s see…let’s see…where am I at with this track? I suppose the easiest thing to say is that it’s not my favorite of the set. Not necessarily a bad track…I don’t think that’s what I’m getting at…but perhaps it treads on more familiar terrain in the theme and lyricism than the majority of this set-list does overall. I think it’s fair to say that Any Hot Drinks really doesn’t create the kind of hooks people are used to in their music…it’s either that, or they’re just unaware of what tends to make listeners really come on back for more…and I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. There are tons of bands we can point to out there in this world from Pink Floyd to Sonic Youth that spent most of their time creating the art they wanted to make, and didn’t worry too much about what the court of public opinion was going to say. They earned their cult-like followings by going with their own instincts, keeping their heads down, and doing the work – and I truly respect that. I don’t think every person’s art or music is going to always resonate with each and every person, that’s simply not how it works. So when you hear a song like “Christ’s Pilate” and you feel that intentionally polarizing design to it, you have to kind of admire it in its own unique way. Like – we can all hear that Any Hot Drinks has skill, talent, and knows their way around their instruments…we all know and understand that, chances are, they’ve been listening to other people’s music their entire lives too – so it becomes fair to say that they know what the easier path is when it comes to writing songs, and they’ve clearly chosen to go left instead of right. Which is fine! The reality is that it can often take a whole lot longer for uniqueness and different sounds to catch on, and they should clearly be prepared for that reality & be ready to dig into the trenches of the underground until it does…but what’s equally true is that each person that enjoys the music of Any Hot Drinks will quite likely become a fan for LIFE. Essentially, it’s a snowball that rolls downhill at a slower pace is all…the effect is still the same, and the amount of people that will dig this band will get larger over time – but like all art that isn’t designed to be commercial, it can take a while before anyone really understands how to process the experience.
I’d say as far as more tangible hooks are concerned, “Spirits Walk With Me” probably has the most you’ll find. I felt like the vocals came out with a ton of’em straight off the bat in this track, and the backing vocals were added in brilliantly to support the lead. Of all the tracks, I was more concerned with the music in this particular cut than I was in the rest…to me, there’s a bit of tightening up they could bring to this one still. It’s freakin’ close y’all, don’t get me wrong – we’re talkin’ about splitting hairs of split-seconds when it comes right down to it…but I think the most dedicated ears out there still might notice a few spots where a track like “Spirits Walk With Me” has an opportunity to become ever greater than it is with its ideas, instrumentation, and execution. As it stands now, I don’t think anyone’s gonna complain all that much, if at all – for the most part, I think people will be happy to trade a split-second here & there for the increased accessibility they’ll find in this track. Full props to Jack – I really dig the sound of his snare on this track and I dig the heavy-handed way he hits it…I also really liked the way this song shifts into the more tom-driven moments too. Drums play a significant role in the allure of this track, as do those incredibly kickass backing vocals as well. All-around, I was really stoked on what came out of the microphone on this track – and in my opinion, as a song, “Spirits Walk With Me” flexed some of the strongest potential we’ve heard in the ideas of Any Hot Drinks on 3223 so far. Would I go back over it with a fine-tooth comb and fix those split-seconds that could possibly be even tighter? No. I don’t think I would. To me, I think a track like this one is going to get stronger as it’s played from here on in…the more time & experience they have with it as a band, the better it’s going to become. Soon enough, it’ll become an extraordinary highlight in their live-set that their shows wouldn’t be complete without. The real bottom line is that this is a genuinely strong idea on 3223, and a real indication of how Any Hot Drinks can meet the audiences out there halfway with the kind of music they want to create, with a bit more noticeable accessibility for listeners, without feeling like their compromising their sound.
“TRUNCHEON MEAT” is STILL one of the best titles to any song I’ve seen in the past decade…there’s something about just even seeing it that gets me excited y’all. Like for real – who out there names a song “TRUNCHEON MEAT?” These dudes do…and I’m here for it. It’s probably the right choice to have made earlier on as a single to put out there, given that it’s within the 4:30-realm, the bass-lines are insatiably cool, and the amount of personality they bring to this song is entirely memorable. Is it a typical single? Heck no, not by any stretch of the imagination, no sir. That being said, a great single can be many things…and in my opinion, as long as it’s truly memorable at the end of the day, you’ve probably picked the right track. It doesn’t take more than five-seconds of “Truncheon Meat” to play for me to remember exactly what’s up with this track, despite its many fired-up twists and turns and beastly amount of distortion & savage thrashing around…it’s memorable, just like a single really should be. Do I think they’ve probably got more accessibility within the ideas of a track like “Spirits Walk With Me?” Sure! You bet I do. But as we all know, anything about the 4:30 mark basically becomes a complete roll of the dice & game of chance with the masses, and it’s a track that expands to nearly eight-minutes. Any Hot Drinks put themselves in the right position by putting “Truncheon Meat” out there as a single in advance of the record and floating this cut around to pages like ours…I think it’s the best choice they could have made from this particular lineup in that regard. I still dig listening to it, and I love that it puts this like…wild spin on what they do through the swagger & personality it has. Not only are they kickin’ out the jams at its most intense, but they also add in a solid dose of odd charm & charisma to this track as well. Feel free to read the rest of my thoughts on “Truncheon Meat” in the original review of it here.
If you’re asking me what my personal favorite of the bunch is…I’m probably gonna side with “15 Hour Day” overall. I’m not here to argue it’s perfected yet…I still think it’s got a ways to go in that department, but in terms of ideas, it’s definitely up there with the best of the best to me. In my opinion, they’re working against themselves a bit with how the vocals on this track start out…a few clashing tones here & there…it’ll tougher for the masses to get into this cut, and I’d be the first to admit that. Once everything snaps into full gear around the ninety-second mark though, Any Hot Drinks displays some of their best, bringing out that personality in their sound that works so brilliantly, the songwriting cleverness we love, and that gritty vibe that has just the right hint of accessibility to pull everything together. It is the longest track on the record by a tiny margin, but you feel like they used the length in a really justified way this time around for sure. Like, the breakdown that occurs mid-song…it’s not gonna be everyone’s favorite moment, but the uniqueness is definitely impossible not to notice. It’s ghastly in the right kind of way, you feel me? Unexpected, and totally out of left field…they give “15 Hour Day” real character and get all kinds of creative once they reach the halfway mark. The slow bring-back from there, is straight-up all killer no filler stuff…the last two minutes of 3223 are without a doubt my favorite singular piece of this record…I love the backing vocals, the gnarly aggression of the lead, the hollow vibes & melody from the drums…the consistent grind from the guitars and the distance you’ll find in the sound they add in…it’s a significant finale that hints at Any Hot Drinks surging into that next record with even more lively, vibrant, and engaging material than you might find on this particular record to be honest. That being said, it’s the kind of notes that you wanna leave the people on at the end of an album – the kind that’ll have’em completely curious about what the heck might come next, and what the next chapter of this story is gonna be like. I couldn’t tell ya what, I couldn’t tell ya when – but I can definitely vouch for the fact that Any Hot Drinks has got me intensely interested in whatever it will be.
Find out more about Any Hot Drinks at their official website: https://anyhotdrinks.bandzoogle.com
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