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The Thermals
The Annex
Madison, WI
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The Thermals
The Thermals

Hutch Harris - vocals, guitar
Kathy Foster - bass, vocals
Westin Glass - drums, vocals

Over the course of seven years and four LP's, The Thermals have tackled a variety of subjects with no small amount of passion and fervor.  Religion, politics, death, these are some heavy themes!  Yet The Thermals have irreverently run roughshod over these topics with excesses of moxie and gusto, the likes of which the post/punk/pop/power/etc. community had never before seen!  Now, for their fifth LP, The Thermals have battled (and perhaps even conquered!) the deepest and darkest of all popular art themes- love.
Not that The Thermals haven't sung/spoken/screamed about love before.  Every Thermals LP has at least two or three songs that provide a short respite from whatever paranoid chaos is going on to deal with love, and the wide range of emotions it produces and abuses.  But never before have The Thermals devoted an entire LP to love, loss, and lies!  That's right, you can't have a little love without a lot of loss and lies.  More than an album strictly about love, Personal Life is about relationships.  It's about the concept of a connection between two people - making it, breaking it, and faking it.

The first three songs on Personal Life speak to the listener using the exact language of love and lust.  "I'm Gonna Change Your Life", "I Don't Believe You", "Never Listen To Me" - these are (for better or worse) all phrases lovers have said to each other ever since Adam and Eve realized there was more to do in Eden than just eat fruit all day.   These songs set up the "story" (for lack of  better a term - Personal Life is as much a concept record as the last two Thermals LP's were, which is to say it's not much of one, but it kind of is).  The record may begin optimistically, almost arrogantly, but by the second song problems have already arisen.  The drama begins, and as all of us who have loved know, once the drama starts there ain't no stopping it.

The next three songs explore the similarities between politics and emotions.  Power wielded on an international level is really not so different than power wielded in a relationship.  Someone always has to be on top.  If you're on the bottom, you're asking yourself, "How can I get on top?"  If you're on top, it's hard not to constantly question your worth and longevity.  "How did I get here, and how do I stay here? Do I deserve this?  Am I satisfied?"  Sometimes getting what you wished for isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Power Lies!

In the last third of Personal Life, the titles and lyrics again take a direct approach with the listener.  "Only For You", "Your Love Is So Strong" and "You Changed My Life" are again phrases pulled straight from real-life situations, although these versions  may contain more dark sarcasm than usual.   All in all, Personal Life amounts to the indie-rock equivalent of a brilliant but ultimately doomed love affair.  A beautiful, turbulent experience that will hopefully leave you wiser in the ways of love and life.


Personal Life is something of retro-technical achievement.  Producer Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie, Tegan and Sara) recorded The Thermals the same way in which he produced their 2004 LP Fuckin' A.  The band was recorded live (for the most part) to tape, and the album was mixed to tape as well.  The sonic care Walla gave to Personal Life assures an enjoyable listen for audiophiles (the vinyl was mastered straight from tape) as well as  for the rest of us who don't care and will be listening on shitty headphones and Radio Shack speakers.


01. I'm Gonna Change Your Life
02. I Don't Believe You
03. Never Listen to Me
04. Not Like Any Other Feeling
05. Power Lies
06. Only For You
07. Alone, A Fool
08. Your Love Is So Strong
09. A Reflection
10. You Changed My Life

An indie rock band from New York City, Cymbals Eat Guitars made their critically acclaimed full-length album debut in 2009. Founded in 2008, the band is comprised of Joseph D'Agostino (aka Joseph Ferocious; vocals, guitars), Matt Cohen (guitar), Neil Berenholz (bass), Matthew Miller (drums), and Daniel Baer (keyboards). D'Agostino, the band's chief songwriter, and Miller began playing together in high school. Starting in the tenth grade, they performed covers of songs from the first two Weezer albums; by the end of their senior year, they had begun performing original material and recorded a demo titled Joseph Ferocious. As a college student, D'Agostino worked toward forming a full band. He placed an ad on Craigslist and steadily assembled a full-band lineup that was christened Cymbals Eat Guitars upon its formation in early 2008. An early live performance drew the attention of Kyle "Slick" Johnson, who had previously engineered mainstream indie rock albums by Modest Mouse (We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, 2007) and the Hives (The Black and White Album, 2007). Impressed by the band's live performance and potential for greatness, Johnson contacted the bandmembers and offered to produce them. Cymbals Eat Guitars made their recording debut in 2008 on Indiecater, Vol. 1: An MP3hugger Compilation with the song "Share." The following year the band made its self-released full-length album debut with Why There Are Mountains. Produced by Johnson, Why There Are Mountains became one of the more critically acclaimed debut albums of 2009, especially once it was crowned a Best New Music selection by the tastemaking website /Pitchfork. In the long parade of critical accolades that followed, comparisons were drawn to Modest Mouse, Pavement, and Built to Spill, and much was made of D'Agostino's youth and indie star potential.

~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi


Sleeping in the Aviary’s debut album “Oh, This Old Thing?” (Science of Sound), showcased SITA’s ability to create intense bursts of lo-fi, catchy-as-hell pop. With songs averaging under two minutes, comparisons to The Thermals, Buzzcocks, Violent Femmes and Nirvana were inevitable.

Now, another side of the band’s musical personality is captured on SITA’s sophomore album “Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel.” The band’s core of Elliott Kozel (guitar/vocals), Michael Sienkowski (drums) and Phil Mahlstadt (bass), has added a fourth member, Celeste Heule, on accordion and musical saw, heralding a move towards an indie-folk direction. “I think it would be boring to make the same record over and over again,” says Kozel. “I want to surprise people with each album that I make.”

SITA emerged from the Science of Sound studio with an incredible collection of newly-recorded material. “Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel” is still intense, full and raw, but now could draw comparisons to the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, Baptist Generals and even Bob Dylan. Plus the songs have grown longer in length â€" none are under three minutes.

Kozel sheds some light on the band’s change in direction on the new album, pointing out that tracks on Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel were written in the aftermath of tragedy. “Everybody’s Different, Everybody Dies” was recorded the same week his co-worker died of a brain aneurism on the way to work and an old friend died of a drug overdose. “Windshield” and “Write On” were written while Kozel was in a hospital caring for his sick mother. But he also points out “they are both songs of hope.”

There has also been a pair of additional releases from the SITA camp following their debut. In November 2007, Science of Sound released a spacey-folk album written and recorded by Kozel (under the moniker “She Is So Beautiful/She Is So Blonde”) in his bedroom between the years 2003-2007. And in May 2008 it was the drummer’s turn , as Sienkowski composed and recorded a ‘60s-inspired pop album entitled Sooner Late Than Never under the moniker Whatfor. Tracked and mixed at Science of Sound, Whatfor’s album featured Sienkowski, Kozel and Mahlstadt as well as other Madison musicians on strings and horns to flesh out the sound.

Lineup: Elliott Kozel (vocals, guitar), Phil Mahlstadt (bass), Michael Sienkowski (drums, backing vocals), Celeste Heule (accordion, musical saw)



The Annex
1206 Regent Street
Madison, WI 53715
United States



Minimum Age: 18
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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