The Microphones: It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (vinyl reissue)

To say It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water is a roller-coaster ride would be a half-truth. It's better represented by calling it primal therapy with periods of rest smattered in between.

The Microphones

It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water

Label: P.W. Elverum & Sun
US Release Date: 2013-05-28
UK Release Date: Import

Thirteen years has passed since It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water made its debut among the noise that was the year 2000. In hindsight, it really is a miracle that music with these kinds of dynamics would see the daylight -- much less survive to the status of reissuable -- when the world was so enamored of lazy raps over poorly sampled mono signals and the 'new, improved' downtrodden rock of the self-loathed. Lo-fi as a movement was in its infancy, and with that same hindsight used earlier, one can easily say the Microphones were one of the finest examples of the new Warholians. In the spirit of the Velvet Underground's White Light, White Heat, It Was Hot displays a real sense of Andy Warhol's artistic visions: a catastrophe of sound swept up and re-purposed for a different generation that needed its own interpretation of a soup can, its own Lou Reed, and its own audible anti-establishment. That's hindsight for you, but for those who may be experiencing Stayed in the Water for the first time now, you're in for a real treat of a trainwreck.

The Microphones have always had this dynamic of cars slamming into concrete walls. While in the driver's seat of said car, this band takes the time to listen to the rhythmic intermittence of the windshield wipers coupled with the melody of the dying engine before assessing the damage. If you can get to that, you'll get It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water for all of the artistic maladies within. This vinyl reissue is for some intents and purposes a doorway to the now and a look at the past influences through the skew of a Viewmaster. It's hard to believe this was released in 2000, just like it's hard to think of the new hipsters creating something derivative and original at the same time. But enough pontificating on timeline and what is hip. Let's get to the music.

"The Pull" opens the album with a solid minute of guitar monotony, which is the perfect setup to the concrete wall that's about to get car-slapped. It disturbs the soul while freeing it at the same time, much like "Misunderstood" from Wilco's Being There did during my first listen. Following the intensity of "Pull" from a formulaic perspective, it would seem right to 'shift gears' into something faster, meaner. This does happen, but not to the degree a major label executive would like. "Ice" starts in chaos, and amazingly (yet abruptly) settles into a major melody fit for angels, ending in vinyl hang-up noise (which is perfect for the vinyl reissue experience -- you'll look twice at the turntable). "Sand" is a poem of tone, melody, brevity, and civility, while "The Glow" and its epic genre-bending strut over the course of eleven minutes shows innovative form, choice production technique, and quality musicianship. Then "Drums" throws you down the chasm once more. "The Gleam" and its druggy coupling of distortion and melody is compelling at the least, but its abbreviated run-time is frustrating. "The Breeze" could stand to be a bit longer, too, but the quality of composition overshadows the short duration(s). Someone needs to invent remote-controlled track repeat on a turntable just for this record alone.

All and all, the diversity in sound throughout the entirety of It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water is titillating to the ears. It's an exercise in spatial dissonance, and a feast of inspiration to revisit time and time again. It's on the road to timeless reverence.





Laura Nyro's "Save the Country" Calls Out from the Past

Laura Nyro, a witchy, queer, ethnic Russian Jew, died young, but her non-conformist anthem, "Save the Country", carries forth to these troubled times.


Journalist Jonathan Cott's Interviews, Captured

With his wide-ranging interviews, Jonathan Cott explores "the indispensable and transformative powers of the imagination."

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Coronavirus and the Culture Wars

Infodemics, conspiracies -- fault lines beneath the Fractured States of America tremble in this time of global pandemic, amplify splinters, fractures, and fissures past and present.


'Switched-On Seeker' Is an Imaginative Electronic Reimagining of Mikal Cronin's Latest LP

Listeners who prefer dense rock/pop timbres will no doubt prefer Mikal Cronin's 'Seeker'. However, 'Switched-On Seeker' will surely delight fans of smaller-scale electronic filters.


IYEARA Heighten the Tension on Remix of Mark Lanegan's "Playing Nero" (premiere)

Britsh trio IYEARA offer the first taste of a forthcoming reworking of Mark Lanegan's Somebody's Knocking with a remix of "Playing Nero".


Pottery Take Us Deep Into the Funky and Absurd on 'Welcome to Bobby's Motel'

With Welcome to Bobby's Motel, Pottery have crafted songs to cleanse your musical pallet and keep you firmly on the tips of your toes.


Counterbalance 23: Bob Dylan - 'Blood on the Tracks'

Bob Dylan makes his third appearance on the Acclaimed Music list with his 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks. Counterbalance’s Eric Klinger and Jason Mendelsohn are planting their stories in the press.


Luke Cissell Creates Dreamy, Electronic Soundscapes on the Eclectic 'Nightside'

Nightside, the new album from composer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Cissell, is largely synthetic and electronic but contains a great deal of warmth and melody.


Bibio Discusses 'Sleep on the Wing' and Why His Dreams Are of the Countryside

"I think even if I lived in the heart of Tokyo, I'd still make music that reminds people of the countryside because it's where my dreams often take me," says Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) of his music and his new rustic EP.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.


A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.


The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.