Friday, March 02, 2007

Thermals Vs. MCR

In some ways it's a lot of fun to stumble upon a band well after everyone else has already stumbled upon them. In other ways it's just a bummer that reminds you why you overlooked them (intentionally or not) in the first place.

Last year, the Thermals released the well-received album "The Body, The Blood, The Machine," a concept album set in an America run by the Christian right. I know I heard it, but for some reason none of it stuck, but I did just as mysteriously hold on to the disc. Two weeks ago I took it out again, gave it a fresh listen, and you know what? I love it. Great songs, spirited performances. It’s like Green Day's "American Idiot" for the indie set. I saw the Thermals play Thursday night and they were great then, too. I can only imagine what's in store for them as more and more people follow my (belated) lead and discover them.

My Chemical Romance, on the other hand, needs no discovering. They're one of the most popular bands in the country right now, and their last album "The Black Parade" earned several rave reviews from People Who Count. Somehow, though, I not only managed to not hear it but had managed to not hear anything from the band, period, including anything from their previous hit album "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge."

That was rectified a week or two ago when I dove right in, in preparation for seeing the group live. And you know what? There's nothing special about them at all. In fact, the only elements that make "The Black Parade" worth a listen are borrowed wholesale from Green Day (the editorial review on jokes that they share the same label, same producer, same theatricality and same janitor). Live, however, they were a pretty pallid proxy for the real thing, and when they came out to play their old songs I was shocked by how banal and tuneless they were. Really? This is the best they can do, this cookie cutter alt-metal made for 12-year olds? More power to them, but this no longer 12-year old couldn't imagine ever gleaning much enjoyment from something so facile. The band's all surface at best.

Needless to say, MCR’s the ones headlining arenas while the Thermals hump it out in clubs, but that’s how these things always go, isn’t it?


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