Saturday, August 26, 2006

Who says we don't patronize local bands?

Whistler July 07 014

Portland's low-fi post-pop-punk-thing The Thermals released their new album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine on Sub Pop last Tuesday. Due to the loss of drummer Jordan Hudson, remaining band mates Kathy Foster and Hutch Harris split up their multiple duties for this record. Hopefully this news won't impact the group's live performace. And if you've seen them live, you understand what I mean.

Their new material is more political and activist in nature (something the album's name reflects). The Thermals have always been straight-edge social commentators through their lyrics. But from 2003's More Parts Per Million to this latest effort, there's been a noted shift in focus from cynical, introverted speculation about their profession and industry, to cynical, extroverted speculation about society, politics, and now the ideological and religious automatons domineering the state. In terms of how this shift in focus impacts the aesthetics of their music....what impact? Aside from the noticable jump in sound quality between 'Million and their second LP Fuckin A, there seems to be very little else going on with production and sound. Whether there should be is certainly moot. That characteristic abruptness, fuzziness, and energy is all still here. And it's a characteristic that always has made the group's shows favorable occassions to exchange sweat and hair with your shirtless neighbor. I'll be the first to assert that impulsive headbanging and jumping has therapeutic merits.

From The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006):
The Thermals -- "A Pillar of Salt"
The Thermals -- "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing"

From Fuckin A (2004):
The Thermals -- "How We Know"
The Thermals -- "Stare Like Yours"

From More Parts Per Million (2003):
The Thermals -- "No Culture Icons"

While we're on the note of PacNW groups, two others sprung to mind in writing this. Whalebones is a local getup who opened for last Monday's Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes show at the Showbox. They delivered a solid performance that blended perfectly with the sounds of the other groups that night (and my god, Wolf Parade absolutely springs into pure, colorful life onstage), not to mention the animal theme in their names. The Fleet Foxes are the other local group who, like the former, have slipped well below the popular radar (and also have an animal-themed name), though they certainly deserve a look and a cappuccino for their efforts.

Whalebones -- "Ladyfingers"
Whalebones -- "Another Jungle"
Whalebones -- "Blood Bank"

The Fleet Foxes -- "Anyone Who's Anyone"
The Fleet Foxes -- "Icicle Tusk"
The Fleet Foxes -- "In the Hot Hot Rays"

The Thermals' Site and Resources
Whalebones on MySpace
The Fleet Foxes on MySpace

Image is an original by the poster

No comments: