I’ll admit I have only a passing interest in The Thermals. I kinda dig, but can’t be overly enthusiatic about their three-piece lo-fi. Punk is a label that gets tossed around a lot and I guess I’ll toss at them. The most punk thing about them is that they (according to the latest Billboard) turned down $50,000 for the use of one of their songs in a Hummer ad. Their music has been featured in TV shows “Chuck” and “Weeds,” so maybe they are just making a principled stand against gas-guzzlers. If so then nevermind about the punk thing. Caring about the environment while good for serious, well-rounded people is not punk.
The Thermals put out three albums on Sub Pop but decided to go with Kill Rock Stars for their fourth effort. I supposed the reason that any established artist decides to go smaller rather than the normal evolution of bands from small label to large label is to gain more control and get more personal attention. This wouldn’t seem to be the case with The Thermals. Hutch Harris, Thermals guitarist/singer told Pitchfork, “(Sub Pop) treated us incredibly well and we never had anything less than full creative control.” Uh. Ok. So then why switch? Maybe The Postal Service takes up the time of the entire Sub Pop staff. Maybe The Thermals are getting picked on by The Gutter Twins in the hallways. Or maybe musicians are just flakes who like to rock the boat for no good reason.
It might be pointing out the obvious but I’m not such a big fan of Kill Rock Stars. Sure I like Eliot Smith and The Decemberists but I’m certain that if not for the staff of KRS I would never have heard Deerhoof. But I have heard Deerhoof and I can’t un-hear it.
Here my completely illogical love of all things Sub Pop rears its ugly head. Its a by-product of when I grew up. When I hear the name Sub Pop I think of “Touch Me I’m Sick” from Mudhoney or “Negative Creep” from Nirvana. When I hear the (abbreviated) name KRS; I think of KRS-One.
Here’s a great video for a good song, “Pillar of Salt” from The Thermals 2006 albumThe Body, the Blood, the Machine.