53.) The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006)
Ah, The Thermals. I love The Thermals.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine is one of the most immediate, loud, raucous "motherfuckers- of- a- record" released in the aughts. The Thermals speak very much to my teenage self. Now, don't get me wrong The Thermals are smarter and more thoughtful than say Screeching Weasel or The Queers (though Screeching Weasel and The Queers are still fucking awesome), but it's that sound - that raise a middle finger, fuck you, bratty, pop punk sound that brings me back to the old days. It's not just nostalgia that makes me love this band. They're just a great band.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a concept record of sorts with songs connected by characters who are trying to flee an America taken over by evil, fascist "Christians". Sound familiar? The lyrics are angry and the music is aggressive, but the choruses still take flight - the production is really stellar here thanks to Fugazi's Brendan Canty. The Body, The Blood, The Machine is, in a lot of ways, the bratty yet wordier and probably more intelligent, stepchild of Green Day's American Idiot.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a concise screed of a record. Clocking in at under forty minutes it barrels out of the gate with the fantastic "Here's You Future" and it never lets up. This is as political a record as has been released this decade and it sometimes dips into preachy and pretentious territory, but in the end The Thermals win because what they've crafted is so damn catchy. You can pogo the shit out of this record whether you agree with the politics or not. It's punk rock, baby.
The real MVPin all this is lead singer Hutch Harris whose vocal delivery is a weird mix between John Darnielle and Craig Finn - he doesn't sing so much as recite. But, it works. In fact, it's perfect. He packs as many words in as he can, but it never comes out forced it's actually quite clear. His delivery turns these songs into lefty sing alongs that translate perfectly to a live setting.
If The Thermals would stop sticking it to the religious right and taking on the bible and right-wing politics in general they could be a hugely popular rock band - that they won't makes them a wonderfully refreshing splash of exuberance and moxie in the world of rock 'n roll.
Posted by Pat Driscoll