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Desperate Ground

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iTunes Review

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.

Customer Reviews


The Thermals continue to put out amazing music on this album! Every time I listen, I have a new favorite song.

Not So Sure

I downloaded some songs off their previous release and this is a much different sound. It sounds like the vocals and other instruments (minus the bass), were recorded in a vacuum. Or the dynamics processing just might be a bit too much. Over all, they still sound like themselves. I guess I'm just not used to all the added effects.

This is the album

...that I have been waiting for from The Thermals. Dark, aggressive, and powerful. Every song is a punch in the throat. It is amazing.


Formed: May, 2002 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

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...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by The Thermals

Desperate Ground, The Thermals
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