Northside Festival has ended

The Thermals

Portland, Oregon, trio The Thermals have been blasting away since 2002, their songwriter Hutch Harris calling bullshit in snarls for a solid decade now. They formed from remnants of other Northwestern groups, and at their beginning they were usually loud, sloppy, and done done with a crash in under two minutes. But no matter what preceded it in the description of the band’s raucous early records “pop-,” “garage-,” “lo-fi-,” the appropriate finish was punk. And unlike a lot of the music of the politically tumultuous 2000s, it had something to say about the fucked state of the world. They drew their widest praise for their strident 2006 album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. It was perhaps the high water mark of left-wing anger and punk paranoia in the Bush era. It embellished an unsettling Christian/fascist dystopia, railed against it at pogo tempo. The band has mellowed just a smidge in the intervening years. 2009′s Now We Can See and 2010′s Personal Life oriented them back to the minor indignities of interpersonal relationships, included some stylistic curves, some nearly danceable rhythms. But they’ve never lost the edge that defines them. Never lost the combination of sticky hooks and cutting riffs that powers them still.