Union Transfer


The Thermals

The Thermals

Summer Cannibals, Amanda X

Fri, April 29, 2016

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

The Thermals
The Thermals
I don’t know how to write a bio for an album. I’ve never written one.

I’m a comedian. My job is to talk onstage for long enough that the trapped, drunken audience has to buy more chicken wings from the club. I am not qualified to write about music. And yet here I am, writing a bio for the new Thermals record, We Disappear. Thank god it’s a great fucking record.

The first time I heard The Thermals was on broken headphones while riding the A Train to Rockaway, Brooklyn, flying mere feet over a frozen Jamaica Bay on a too-bright January morning. I had just fallen in love with a wonderful, terrible woman who was thousands of miles away. I was very fragile, I had no boundaries, and I was the strongest I’d ever been. And that’s how this album feels. There’s a new vulnerability here, but The Thermals’ sound is as strong as it’s ever been.

The Thermals are best at making songs you put on mixtapes named ‘Drunken Sing-alongs When You’re Sad.’ They specialize in late-night, secret conversations about feeling simultaneously romantic and resentful over being raised Catholic. They’re the soundtrack to breaking glass, and an ode to the beauty of brokenness.

They say that the mark of intelligence is the ability to hold two disparate and conflicting truths in the mind at the same time: I am a good person; I am not a good person. We Disappear lives in this delicate, in-between place: at once hard and noisy, while also soft and personal. And seeming contradictions abound on this album. We Disappear is an all-too-real, dark, and intensely personal album – in the past most of singer Hutch Harris’ lyrics have been mostly fictitious tales – about how we try to outrun demise, whether personal or physical. It is an emotional document of how two people can tear each other apart, while simultaneously making you wanna get up and jump around the room.

The deeply dark, yet oddly catchy “Heart Went Cold” plays on the double metaphor of loss of love/life and features the sad realization “I pushed you away”, but is immediately followed by the super poppy “oh-oh oh”. The classic fucking rock anthem “Hey You” is a paranoid fantasy about running from the Grim Reaper as he calls after you, about “being terrified of death,” says Harris, but “a celebration of that feeling as opposed to feeling sad about it.” A surprisingly uplifting eulogy of the death of a relationship, “Thinking Of You” is explained by Harris as “one of the most straight-forward love songs we’ve ever written, a point-blank post-break up song. It’s a song that says exactly what it means. It and a lot of the record are about regret, i.e. still loving someone after a break-up and hanging on to these feelings.”

We Disappear is also about separation in terms of technology, how it can isolate us and impact our relationships, and how humans have embraced it to the point where we’ve already assimilated into it. “The Great Dying” and “Into the Code” examine how we’re so afraid we’re going to be forgotten, or overlooked, that we upload everything about our lives onto the Internet.

Harris explains, “Technology, love and death are the three obsessions of the record. Our privacy used to be so important to us and now everything has changed – we freely offer once private information about relationships and reveal everything about our day-to-day lives. We’re trying to preserve our life digitally so when we’re gone people won’t forget us. We’re using technology to become immortal. You can even set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to continue updating after you die! We Disappear is about how humans fight the inevitable.”

I’m sure you want to know that the record will come out March 25th, 2016 on Saddle Creek, that it features the longest running Thermals line-up of Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster, and Westin Glass, and that it was recorded in Portland, OR at Kung Fu Bakery (The Shins, Tegan and Sara) and in Seattle, WA at The Hall of Justice (Nirvana, Mudhoney), and produced by Chris Walla (formerly of Death Cab For Cutie). But what really matters is that this record GETS IT. It walks that fine line between truth and lies, between death and life, between depression and joy – all the while recognizing that one cannot exist without the other. And it brings us with it. That’s the reason to listen to this record: Because it’s a fucking great album, by an amazing band. Long Live The Thermals.
Summer Cannibals
Summer Cannibals aren't wasting any time. The punk-flecked four-piece from Portland hit the ground at full speed, their 2013 debut album No Makeup catching people completely off-guard in their hometown and beyond. In just a few short months, Summer Cannibals earned deserved props from some of their heroes—including a ringing endorsement from the Thermals—opened for international touring bands like Chvrches, and found themselves at #2 on the coveted "Best New Band" list in Willamette Week. Now they're back with their second full-length, the raw, to-the-point Show Us Your Mind. As before, Summer Cannibals come armed only with the things they need: fuzz pedals, razor-sharp riffs, and songs that get stuck in your head the first time you hear 'em.

The group formed around guitarist/vocalist Jessica Boudreaux and guitarist Marc Swart in 2012, their sound fueled by Boudreaux's songwriting chops and the band's full-volume fervor, which flows most fluidly during Summer Cannibals' head-turning live shows. To capture that live spark, the band recorded Show Us Your Mind at Portland's hallowed Jackpot Studios with Larry Crane (Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, Tape Op) behind the board. The group recorded and mixed to tape, working quickly to capture the momentum, and Show Us Your Mind is both a continuation of the straightforward statement-of-purpose on No Makeup, as well as an effective introduction to the band's ultimately catchy clang. These are pop songs played at air-raid volume, serving as a simple tonic for day-to-day frustrations.

"It's music that has been made for a long time. It's not like we've discovered some brand new thing," Boudreaux says. "But life is short. Why not play music that makes you feel free, and crazy, and like you can do whatever you want?"
Amanda X
Amanda X
Born out of the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, where you can't throw a rock without hitting a great band, Amanda X is the three-piece antidote to bumming on grey days and the Sunday night blues. The Philadelphian women—Cat Park on guitar, Melissa Brain on drums, and Kat Bean on bass—make music to remind you that colorful riffs and lilting oo's are meant to complement post-punk shredding and astute songwriting. Their debut full-length, Amnesia, rattled you out of your wintertime slumber like a cannonball straight into the pool, and their sophomore record, Giant, brings more expressive solos, sharper vocals, and a few shots straight through the heart by way of a grimey Fender guitar and production by Steve Poponi at Gradwell House Recording.

Amanda X self-released their bedroom-cozy EP, Ruin the Moment, in 2012 to great acclaim, taking the sunny-serious vibes with them to venues all over Philadelphia, as well as on a number of tours up and down the East Coast and Canada. They’ve since toured all over the country, opening for bands like Parquet Courts, Marnie Stern, Dum Dum Girls, FIDLAR, The Vaselines, The Thermals, and Protmartyr, bringing playful stage banter, garagey guitar earworms, and dual harmonies that hit just as hard live.

After catching wind of their dedicated show schedule and powerful new songs, Philadelphia's own Siltbreeze picked up their first album; their followup will release digitally with Charlotte-based Self-Aware Records. The release of the sophomore record sees the trio growing their songwriting for a wider audience—just as strong, just as fast, but with a cleaner edge, one laced with an ever-present mix of sadness and hope. The lovely melodies and honey-tinged singalongs they've built their sound on are just as available, but now with wider eyes and more cutting lyrics. All of the proceeds from their sophomore followup will be donated to Women Against Abuse, a local Philly organization.

Imagine if Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks took a few lessons from The Raincoats, or if the K Records lineup of yesteryear had a little more distortion in their repertoire. Amanda X manages to deliver smarts and sweets in poppy songs so tightly packed that they come with a punch so strong they are really, really hard to forget.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123