The Thermals

With the unbridled spirit of a gang of children tearing up a birthday party, the Thermals are a fun little band with simple, visceral songs that smack the listener in the face like a rake. This is most certainly punk rock from a smelly garage with a little bit of an art school vibe thrown in. Like the Pixies', the lyrics are often abstract, but sometimes the Thermals sound like they're really trying to make a point about something.

Members of the Thermals were involved in various indie-rock projects before they came together as a trio in Portland, Oregon, and went for something a bit more exciting. After playing only a few shows, they had won over the folks at Sub Pop, whereupon they quickly went about recording their 2003 debut, More Parts per Million, in singer-guitarist Hutch Harris's kitchen, spending all of $60 and coming up with one hell of a punchy, irresistible sound.

On their new record, Fuckin A, the cover of which features a child in a bathing suit flying above an exploding nuclear reactor, the band is still a one-trick pony, but its one trick is full-throttle, ass-kicking punk rock that's as raw as can be and vaguely intelligent-sounding. The romantic "Let Your Earth Quake, Baby" will have the little indie girls fainting. It's either a fairly sexy punk come-on or a love song, while "God and Country" is a political statement of some sort with the lyrics "Pray for a new state / pray for assassination / I can hope, see? / even if I don't believe." Harris sounds like he might be angry on this one.

A lot of his lyrics sound like odd empowering speeches for young punks, as if the Thermals were trying to teach them how to properly rip shit up.

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