The Thermals are a great example of a band who do one thing, high-energy power pop, and do that one thing well. “I Don’t Believe You,” taken from their forthcoming, Kill Rock Stars album, Personal Life, is just that — A reason to get out of your seat and hop about as you trade your problems for the band’s problems, which are nothing more than the usual relationship problems set to guitar.
“Didn’t You,” sees Cloud Nothings principal, and Cleveland’s newest hit-maker, Dylan Baldi, continue to do what he does best — Make hits. It may be hard to fathom, but in less than a year, he’s gone from an unknown in his own scene, to guaranteed page views across the indie music scene. And much to his and his band’s credit, they’ve gained their notoriety the old fashioned way, by focusing on music and melody. Go ahead, and rack your brain. Name another artist, not named Uncle Bob, with the ability to kick out lo-fi pop gems with such regularity. It’s uncanny.
If there’s one complaint to be had about the latest offering from Teenage Fanclub, it’s that the Scottish pop outfit tread dangerously close to dentist office rock time and time and time again. Shadows is an album which could greatly benefit from a kick in the pants. Conversely, I Was a King, a band who hold Teenage Fanclub in such admiration that they named a song (“Norman Bleik”) after one of their members (Norman Blake), have the opposite problem. “Daybreak” would sound so much better if it had a little less going on. They really should have cut out the horns, or cut out some of the back-up vocals, or the keys, or the strings, or some of the drums, or anything, really to make it not so busy.
With Jay Reatard’s recent passing, the music world is in need of someone to fill that cracked, garage-punk void which Mr. Reatard once occupied so annoyingly well. And while, The Bay-Area’s Ty Segall may not yet possess all the piss and vigor of Reatard (He has, oh, about 25 fights to catch up with him), he certainly has the sound (Pushed almost uncomfortably in the red), and the songs, like “Girlfriend,” a slice of British-Invasion pop, distorted to the point where bright-eyed innocence becomes red-eyed danger.