Mike Borg

The Routine

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Hotwire: Rus Martin (vocals); Gabe Garcia (guitar); Chris Strauser (bass); Brian Borg (drums). Recorded at Sound City, Van Nuys, California. Personnel: Russ Martin (vocals, guitar); Gabe Garcia (guitar); Brian Borg (drums). Audio Mixer: Matt Hyde. Recording information: Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA. Editors: Paul Forgues; Edmond Monsef; Dan Druff; Mike Terry. Photographer: Marina Chavez. While The Routine is wrapped up in the trappings of a major-label release - with its liners listing out business managers, guitar and drum technicians, and no less than five engineers - Hotwire's debut full-length manages to avoid most of the after-market tinkering that made disappointing sound-alikes out of their suburban Cali counterparts in Hoobastank and Audiovent. Sure, The Routine channels the same mixture of Deftones rage and Incubus yearning. But together with producer Matt Hyde (Fu Manchu, Hatebreed), Hotwire's Russ Martin (vocals/guitar), Brian Borg (drums), Chris Strauser (bass), and Gabe Garcia (guitar) have made a debut that shows actual promise, instead of simply sticking with what's been proven to work. And in a post-grunge climate with clearly defined boundaries, that counts as a compliment. The post-hardcore one-two punch of Not Today and Invisible tears open The Routine with aggressive dynamic shifts and very little filler, while Nice Profile works on opening the cut with a fist-pumping chorus that can be forgiven for sounding like the soundtrack to a beer commercial. The ballads of the album's middle suffer, since there is nothing in either Martin's indistinct croon or the band's plodding riffs to separate them from contemporaries like Chevelle. (That said, Say What You Want does include a gorgeous acoustic coda that's a nice break before The Routine's second half.) Bogged down as it is with a directionless midsection, Hotwire's debut isn't ultimately as successful as its first half would suggest. But as The Routine draws to a close, screamers like

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