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    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Let your earth quake, baby: The Thermals MP3s

    I don't think there are too many better ways to spend twenty-eight minutes than listening to The Thermal's Fuckin A. (Okay, I just thought of a couple...) It's punk rock as it should be. Hutch Harris sounds congested, the chords are brash and basic, it's alternately confident and defiant, and plus, it fuckin rocks. The whole time, you can pretty much picture the garage they're thrashing away in. The album doesn't get as sociopolitical as, say, early Bad Religion, but it doesn't fire blanks when it takes aim at targets. In "God and Country," Harris protests, "it's my flag/ it's my flag" and then follows up with "pray for a new state/pray for assassination." I'm guessing The Thermals didn't field too many White House invites circa 2004.

    Well, it's two years later and the national landscape isn't looking any more promising. It's post-Terry Schiavo and stem cells vetoes.
    Suspects are still locked up without trials or formal charges. Scary old men are still listening in to our phone calls, checking our bank records, and patrolling our Web searches. Pleasing the evangelical right still trumps any other interest. So while all the MTV-groomed punks are applying their mascara, The Thermals are back and ready to fire.

    Produced by Fugazi's Brendan Canty, The Body, The Blood, The Machine has been one of my most anticipated albums of the year. It only moved further up that list when I read its description: "The lyrics envision a United States governed by a fascist Christian state, and focus on the need (and means) to escape. While hardly a concept album, there is definitely a story told in the songs: a story about getting the fuck OUT while you still can." Not too many bands can pull off injecting politics and religion in their music without sounding didactic, but The Thermals have done it. And they haven't lost their signature sound in the process. In a year with so much anger and so few great angry records, The Thermals are a godsend. Maybe even a small miracle.

    * MP3: "A Pillar of Salt" - The Thermals from The Body, The Blood, The Machine
    * MP3: "An Ear For Baby" - The Thermals from The Body, The Blood, The Machine [Buy it]
    * Band Website:
    The Thermals

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