» LATEST FEATURES

LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Thermals
Now We Can See
Kill Rock Stars

Rating: 8/10 ?


April 10, 2009
The Thermals have created some of the most vibrant and urgent music of the past half-decade. Since their first release, 2003's More Parts per Million, each subsequent album of theirs has built on the strengths of its predecessor to create something stronger and more fully realized. The scrappy and lo-fi trio has grown into an incredibly tight band that utilizes the best of both pop and punk aesthetics to rail against the government and religion with some of the most intelligent and catchy songs independent music has had to offer. To boot, they've done it all, continually growing by leaps and bounds, without losing the rawness and infectious sense of fun that they infused with all of their early songs.

The band's last proper album, the 2006 tour de force The Body, The Blood, The Machine, was a near masterpiece that lead to legions of new and old fans alike anticipating their follow-up. Unfortunately, Now We Can See seems like a bit of a surprisingly backward step for a band that has staked its career on forward momentum. Of course as with any such wildly anticipated album, the reverse motion could be a case of perspective, of personal expectations being insurmountably high, because Now We Can See is by no means a bad album. It just seems a little pedestrian for such a talented and unique band.

Unlike The Thermals' previous output, Now We Can See fails to capture the zeitgeist of a youth that alternately wants to drunkenly dance the night away and throw a Molotov cocktail through a Starbucks window. You better believe the songs are still fun to listen to, but there is an inescapable feeling that something is missing. The edges are a little too polished and the tempo a little too dialed back; songs like "We Were Sick" have all the makings of a barn burner like "Here's Your Future," but rather than ringing out with urgency and defiance there's an almost bubblegum quality of containment. Soft and plodding - and at nearly six minutes in length, a marathon twice the size of the typical Thermals fare - "At the Bottom of the Sea" has more in common with the tonality of the band's earlier works, and it could almost be considered a ballad. "When We Were Alive," a sub-two minute romp, is the cut with the most immediacy in the bunch and, had it been recorded with The Body, The Blood, The Machine or Fuckin' A, should be an instant classic. But for some reason it isn't. The band does take the gloves off for "When I Was Afraid" and the album's title track, and there aren't any total duds on the record, but overall Now We Can See's spirit feels stifled under a few too many layers of studio shellac.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should cop to being a huge and longtime fan of the band. All of their albums rank among my favorites and, until recently, I had almost never missed a chance to see them live. Which is why it pains me to not be able to enthusiastically and wholeheartedly embrace Now We Can See. Maybe it'll grow on me, but it is certainly not a gripping listen straight out of the gate. No matter, there is no love lost and, although I will have to wait a little while, I still look forward to whatever they do next, with anticipation as wild as ever. In the meantime, look for The Thermals to terrorize the airwaves (as the band themselves have amusedly noted, "Now We Can See" was already "#1 on commercial specialty radio.")

Reviewed by Kevin Alfoldy
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.

See other reviews by Kevin Alfoldy

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!