The Thermals - Rise & Fall
Jan/Feb - traditionally the time of year when populist pundits pop up all over the shop to hard sell you their associated lists of affiliated brands in time for the 1st new chart positions of the new-year. 2004 is no exception - & January is about the ONLY month of the year the 80’s B-Line Matchbox Disaster are ever gonna chart!
A speculative trawl through the ‘upcoming attractions’ sections of the usual suspects leaves us in absolutely no doubt that 2004 has very little to offer we haven’t already got: half formed ideas being signed up before they can walk it like they talk it - piss poor Xerox copies of Post Punk intent (with or without dance floor sensibility) - parodies - soup in the basket ‘tribute’ acts - artists with absolutely no political conviction - people who think they’ve ‘made it’ when they play a gig where they usually watch their football team - people trying desperately to ‘get back to’ the concept of song over delivery - people who, like, aren’t down with scenes.
Fuck you - every last one of you.
So who are we gonna shove down your throat for 2004?
The Thermals - that’s who - we’ve told you about them before - they’re on Sub Pop Records (hey, come back, wait up...):
The Thermals are led by Hutch Harris & hail from Portland, Oregon (home of Chuck Pallahnuik - who refers to the area as the ‘home of the freak’). They released their debut Sub Pop LP More Parts Per Million (SPCD622) in 2003 & are one of the few groups currently operating on this Punk Rock planet that could possibly ‘mean it’.
The Thermals could be described as ‘discordant’. It’s a word that ably conveys the ragged arsed nature of their scratchy music - distressed guitars & skip loads of open hi-hat - drums buried behind layers of fresh fuzz snowfall - bass hardly audible below the squall of it all - no getting psyched on no culture icons.
No getting psyched on - no culture icons
I think we used to call it anger - we may even have referred to it as contempt (which is obviously a far more admirable sentiment than pure hatred) - either way, it’s an energy - & The Thermals have the kind of energy that fuels national grids.
There is a certain bruised magnificence to The Thermals - that split spine/missing page factor involved in the finding of an old paperback discarded on a dark station platform that makes you want to purchase every other book the author has written. The Thermals give us déjà vu.
Musically there are torn up bits of very early Pavement, splinters of broken Sebadoh, ashtrays full of Dinosaur Jnr butt ends - & an underlying hardcore attitude that exudes promise. The Thermals are in one fuck of a hurry. Their 13-track statement of intent, the aforementioned More Parts Per Million, absolutely rattles along. Pregnant with poise & weighed down by the injustices of the world, More Parts Per Million is angst-istential beyond the call of duty.
The Thermals have recently been warming the chilled winter hearts of UK gig goers over the festive period with their hectic live take on the LP. Favourable live reviews & a strong underground buzz have marked the group down as one of the ones to watch in 2004.
So, if you haven’t succumbed already, go get More Parts Per Million & do yourself a sizeable favour - secure in the knowledge that your not going to see The Thermals miming on TOTPs or schmoozing with Jools & Yoko on Later. Result.
Johnny Forgotten - tMx13 - 01/04