Desperate Ground by The Thermals on Apple Music

10 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Thermals achieve the elusive. With just three members, they capture the raw beauty of glorious punk rock and beyond. Their sixth album, Desperate Ground, continues their streak of inspiration. Recorded in Hoboken, N.J., with John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) and completed hours before Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, Desperate Ground centers on a primordial power that never lets up as it tells a tale of violence, sung from the point of view of a lone deviant out only to destroy. "I was born/To kill," sings Hutch Harris on the opening track in a voice not far removed from another grand indie storyteller, The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle. The desperation in Harris' delivery adds a crucial nuance to the melodies; it raises the songs to a level of transcendence. This entire conceptual piece does its damage in 26 minutes, with the album's longest song, "I Go Alone," clocking in at three minutes and 13 seconds. The sound never wavers. Unlike on previous Thermals albums, the approach here is strictly power chords and punchy vocals, with only tempo shifts for variety. It's a uniform, fulfilling experience.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Thermals achieve the elusive. With just three members, they capture the raw beauty of glorious punk rock and beyond. Their sixth album, Desperate Ground, continues their streak of inspiration. Recorded in Hoboken, N.J., with John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) and completed hours before Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, Desperate Ground centers on a primordial power that never lets up as it tells a tale of violence, sung from the point of view of a lone deviant out only to destroy. "I was born/To kill," sings Hutch Harris on the opening track in a voice not far removed from another grand indie storyteller, The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle. The desperation in Harris' delivery adds a crucial nuance to the melodies; it raises the songs to a level of transcendence. This entire conceptual piece does its damage in 26 minutes, with the album's longest song, "I Go Alone," clocking in at three minutes and 13 seconds. The sound never wavers. Unlike on previous Thermals albums, the approach here is strictly power chords and punchy vocals, with only tempo shifts for variety. It's a uniform, fulfilling experience.

TITLE TIME
1:48
2:45
2:51
3:12
3:10
2:22
2:32
2:29
2:08
3:06

About The Thermals

A Portland-based supergroup of sorts, the Thermals originally featured Kind of Like Spitting's Ben Barnett and the Operacycle's Jordan Hudson, plus Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster of the twee/folk-pop duo Hutch & Kathy and the All Girl Summer Fun Band. The group formed in early 2002 as a way for its members to play just for the fun of it, but their insistent melodies and punk-inspired urgency quickly won them a local following. Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard became one of the Thermals' first fans and got the group in touch with Sub Pop, which signed them within four months of the band's formation. The label released a single with the band in January of 2003, followed by their full-length More Parts Per Million later that spring.

Fuckin A, the Thermals' sophomore effort, appeared in mid-2004. In the midst of recording their third full-length, however, founding drummer Jordan Hudson left the group. Foster and Harris resumed recording and played all the instruments themselves, with the resulting The Body, the Blood, the Machine being released in 2006. Drummer Caitlin Love joined the Thermals just in time for a European tour that spring. Lorin Coleman, of the Portland indie rock act Virga, was added on drums in late summer, and auxiliary guitarist Joel Burrows briefly joined as well. The quartet dissolved in 2008, however, once again leaving Foster and Harris as the band's only members. Following their departure from Sub Pop's roster, the Thermals signed with Kill Rock Stars and released Now We Can See in April 2009, followed by Personal Life in 2010. In 2012, the band's cover of the Malvina Reynolds song "Little Boxes" was used in the opening of an episode of the Showtime series Weeds.

In January of 2013, the Thermals found themselves switching labels once again, this time to the Omaha, Nebraska-based Saddle Creek. Adding drummer Westin Glass, the band recorded and released its sixth album, Desperate Ground, by April 2013. In early 2015, Harris and Foster spent time touring as Hutch & Kathy to celebrate a re-release of their Hutch & Kathy record from 2002. The trio got back together soon after and started work on its next record. The reliably fiery We Disappear was released in early 2016. ~ Heather Phares

  • ORIGIN
    Portland, OR
  • FORMED
    May 2002

Top Songs

Top Albums

Listeners Also Played