The Thermals’ favorite current records

The Thermals: “I Don’t Believe You” (Personal Life, KRS, 9/7/10)

The Thermals – I Don’t Believe You

We asked The Thermals, the Portland pop-punk power trio, to name a few of its favorite recent releases. The band’s drummer, Westin Glass, responded with a list of five records that ranges from radio-friendly pop to an independent artist that calls himself the “black Bob Dylan.” Whether or not you share Glass’ taste, you can appreciate his sentiment that some music exists to help you laugh and get laid.

Jason DeRulo1. Jason DeRulo: s/t (Beluga Heights [Warner Brothers], 2010)

This one may be hard to swallow for you indie-rock fans — but I assure you, it’s worth it. Definitely a “singles” record, with three mega smash hits on Top 40 radio. I first heard Jason DeRulo‘s track “Whatcha Say” blasting on the one working speaker in my friend’s car last year and immediately loved it. The digitally distressed Imogen Heap sample in that song makes for the most memorable hook of 2009.

I also love “Ridin’ Solo,” a great post-breakup, self-psych-up song. Jason DeRulo knows how to make a fucking hit — a bubble-gummy blast of ear sugar that will lighten your mood and get stuck in your head. Speaking of which, his track “In My Head” is stuck in my head right now.

Obits2. ObitsI Blame You (Sub Pop, 2009)

Rick Froberg formed Obits after the demise of Hot Snakes, and he continues to blow minds and speakers with his rough, tense songwriting. This record has all the energy and sophistication of Hot Snakes but feels even more stripped down to the bare essentials. If Hot Snakes was a NASCAR car, Obits is a mean little dune buggy in the desert. Froberg’s lyrics are hilarious and sharp. “Fake Kinkade” is my favorite track. It’s a great album to help you laugh at the world while also preparing to get right up in its face and take what’s yours.

Minus The Bear3. Minus The Bear: OMNI (Dangerbird, 2010)

An underrated record by this excellent band. As with Jason DeRulo, MTB are just trying to make music that is fun and enjoyable. They aren’t trying to redefine art or any pretentious shit like that; they understand that music is entertainment, and one of its most important functions is to help people get laid.

OMNI is smooth and clever, with twists and turns to keep your ears guessing. Beautifully produced by Joe Chicarelli and performed with those super-precise MTB chops we know and love, this one is great for chillaxin’ at your house and maybe romancing that special someone.

Abner Jay4. Abner Jay: Folk Song Stylist (Mississippi Records, 2010)

This is the second vinyl reissue of Abner Jay‘s incredible work by Portland record store / label Mississippi Records. Kathy loves this record so much that she bought Hutch and me copies! Thanks, Kathy!

Abner was a really interesting character who apparently called himself “the black Bob Dylan.” This dude can sing! He has a powerful, soulful voice, and his songs run the gamut from blues to soul to populist folk. He carries the songs with his voice and guitar, accompanied by some mysterious percussion parts. Very highly recommended.

Past Lives5. Past Lives: Tapestry of Webs (Suicide Squeeze, 2009)

These four Seattle fellows (ex-Blood Brothers) are leagues ahead of everyone else in this music thing. Seriously. They are making music that sounds like nothing else — it’s the future, but with that all-important nostalgic twinge that really makes their songs memorable. I don’t know how they do it.

It’s an oversimplification to say that they pick up where Fugazi left off, but that gives you the rough idea. Angular counterpoint riffs in weird tunings, heavy + killer drums, and coyly aggressive vocals. The next generation of post-hardcore/punk bands will be looking to these guys for inspiration.

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