The Thermals Desperate Ground

The Thermals Desperate Ground
8
With fuzzy garage bands coming out of the woodwork these days, you'd think old farts like the Thermals (they've been together for a decade, which is a lifetime in garage rocker years) would be pushed aside for new blood. But on Desperate Ground, the band's fifth full-length, the Portland, OR punks once again make a strong case for relevancy, not that they needed to. Desperate Ground sticks to the basic formula the Thermals have been perfecting their entire career, with Desperate Ground's pacing more in line with the break-neck speed of earlier releases, while producer John Angelo gives the guitars a little more fuzz than on Personal Life. Where that record found the band settling into the steady groove of adulthood, Desperate Ground sees frontman Hutch Harris dealing with the inevitable disappointments of life. The agitation suits Harris, who's at his best when railing against forces both external and internal. That he and bass player Kathy Foster can weave those complaints into sticky earworms just gives more credence to their cause, and that's where the Thermals really set themselves apart. For all their bluster, the vast majority of fuzz-friendly bands are indistinguishable. By daring to show a bit of personality, the Thermals continue to prove themselves in today's musical landscape. (Saddle Creek)