I mentioned before on this blog, and not too long ago, about how my paying attention to music is only a recent phenomenon. Prior to this, I just listened to whatever was on the radio and bought a lot of albums based on what got played there. Now I almost never listen to music on the radio, I get all my recommendations for new music from friends, and am much happier about what I listen to. I never just discover music.
Case in point: A few years ago, my friend Lani gave me an excellent CD anthology, House Full of Friends from Magic Marker records. All of the bands on the collection played house shows at the home of the Magic Marker Records' founders in Portland, Oregon. And if you wonder about the state of indie music in Portland, you could do worse than to give the set a listen. Ever since Lani gave me the disks, it's been a source of Good Things to Listen to; I discovered Eux Autres, The Shins, and Mates of State there.
And now The Thermals. A three-piece post-pop-punk band from Portland made up of singer/songwriter/guitarist Hutch Harris, bassist Kathy Foster and drummer Lorin Coleman, The Thermals are currently the only band to which I'm listening (their site also has several videos which I watch fairly compulsively). It's everything I feel Pop Music should be: stripped down, catchy, and angry. Angry in the way that only rock and roll can be. The band describes the sound of their first album, 2003's More Parts Per Million as "no-fi." That's pretty accurate and in no way should you be turned off by the label. Each successive record, 2004's Fuckin A and 2006's The Body, the Blood, the Machine, has been more and more polished. But they're still a long way from the over-produced and lifeless recordings that garner radio play.
It makes me sad to know that The Thermals were active in Portland for at least a year before I left town and I never got to hear them. I'm making up for lost time now, I suppose.