On their latest album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, The Thermals sound like somebody lit a bomb under their punk-rock posterior. The Portland, Oregon, act recorded the entirety of their new album as a duo, including percussion, keyboards, and organ. In 2005, original drummer Jordan Hudson bowed out, leaving the core unit of guitarist/vocalist Hutch Harris and bassist Kathy Foster to fend for themselves.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine arrives with a sense of urgency. These songs were apparently potent enough for Harris and Foster to forego the hassle of finding a new drummer to record. Instead, they sat down with producer/Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and hammered out 10 engrossing, immediate and politically charged tracks. The result is an album at once cohesive and catchy--a protest album that never lets up.
The opening track, "Here's Your Future," begins with a hymn-like organ chord that quickly dissolves into Harris' narrative: "God reached his hand/down from the sky/He flooded the land/then He set it on fire." The ensuing kick-in sets the stage for what's to come, with Harris' yelp at full throttle and Foster's bass lines on point as always. The lyrics paint an unflinching picture of an America run by religious extremists and a power-hungry regime. On "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing," Harris proclaims, "They'll give us what we're asking for/'cause God is with us/our God's the richest./Our power doesn't run on nothing/it runs on blood/and blood is easy to attain/when you have no shame." The lyrics paint an unflinching picture of an America run by religious extremists and a power-hungry regime. The message is hard-hitting but the lyrics are well-crafted and well-informed, resulting in an album that is refreshing, in that it pulls no punches.
Chin Up Chin Up, The Thermals and Cursive play Wednesday, October 18, at the Venue. Tickets are $12 in advance through Ticketweb and $14 at the door.