When SubPop Records puts out an album, expectations are high. They've released music by the likes of Mudhoney, Reverend Horton Heat, The Postal Service and Nirvana, and to maintain a reputation for excellence, they have to pick and choose which artists they represent very carefully. So, it must have been with a collective sigh of relief and pats on the back all around when someone made the smart decision to give the Thermals a record deal.
The Thermals are a Portland-based trio with Hutch Harris on vocals and guitar, Kathy Foster on bass and Lorin Coleman (who just joined the band in 2005) on drums. They have a heady, heavy sound that's a strong, broad foundation for Harris' pleading, pissed-off vocals. Fuckin' A (the 2004 follow-up to their 2003 debut More Parts Per Million) is a mere 28 minutes of bombastic music. Their new release The Body, The Blood, The Machine is no less hard-hitting, but there's a sense of maturity in the music both lyrically and instrumentally. The Thermals recorded the new release at Oregon's Supernatural Sound Studios Brenden Canty of Fugazi producing. According to a press release, "Foster and Harris split up duties on the new record with Foster pulling double shifts as The Thermals' rhythm section for almost the entire record while Harris sang, performed all the guitar tracks and some of the bass tracks, and the two shared keyboard/organ duties. The Machine adds walls of guitars, organs, and even a few ballads to the mix, while still retaining the gritty post-pop-punk sound for which The Thermals are globally famous."
I've given The Machine a thorough listening and if ever you happen to meet someone who works for SubPop, give him or her a pat on the back for a job well done.
August 24, with Bovalexia, 9 p.m., $8 in advance through TicketWeb, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.