The Body, the Blood, the Machine
Portland, Oregon’s Thermals play the sort of politically-charged, lo-fi inspired (if no longer technologically so) punk-pop that’s come to define the raw ends of the underground/ alternative rock movement circa 2006. They’re plenty angry at the way the world acts around them (“Here’s Your Future,” “I Might Need You To Kill”) and it’s reflected in their unpolished, unapologetic approach to their instruments. There are no soothing harmonies or mild-mannered choruses aimed at infiltrating the mainstream. No, the guitars are strummed without finesse, splattering over the speakers in large chunky chords that lock with the clunky, rudimentary drums in perfect garage band glory (played by double-timing bassist Kathy Foster who emergency filled-in following the departure of drummer Jordan Hudson). None of which would be nearly as convincing if it weren't for Hutch Harris’ eerie whine that has been noted for its similarity to ‘60s cult-rocker Roky Erickson. Like Erickson, Harris twists melody and pathos from the smallest of notes, making his concerns sound urgent and beautiful, and especially vulnerable (“St Rosa and the Swallows”) as his voice shakes with conviction.