by Leah Sottile and Mike Corrigan
Presidents of the United States of America
Love Everybody TWO STARS
What would you expect from the Presidents? Those goofy Seattle comebackers, who appear to be attempting not so subtly to capitalize on listeners' aches for the rockin' early '90s, are kind of like another Three Dog Night. They'll always be known for their hits (come on, sing along... "millions of peaches..."), and that's why people like them. So, really, writing new stuff is, well, fruitless.
That's the case with their latest effort, Love Everybody. It's a 14-song album of new stuff -- but it's one of those albums that, when it stops spinning, you feel like you've already heard it a few times before. That's because there's hardly anything different about Love Everybody from the group's previous albums. The Presidents are still silly, still clowning around, still able play their guitars and beat their drums with fair expertise. But they are still singing about "munkys," drooling and juvenile crushes. They are the same old ballads to the absurd. Not only have they not developed as musicians, but this time they're quite a bit older than before. And they're still singing about the same old crap. -- Leah Sottile
F***in A THREE STARS
The latest salvo by the Thermals (on Sub Pop) is a middle-finger salute to the forces of boredom, complacency and to all those looking to squash minority voices into a kind of groupthink paste. The album's 12 brisk tracks are topical and political, yet manage to come across as more fun than preachy. Singer/songwriter Hutch Harris uses repetition and economy in his slogan-happy verse while he, bassist Kathy Forster and drummer Jordan Hudson, with just three pieces, make a most impressive racket. The balls-to-the-wall compositions have a way of becoming a tad wearing over the course of the entire album, but when a song hits, it's dead on. For example, in "God and Country," Harris asserts his right to a wholly secular existence within a society increasingly willing to blur the lines between church and state: "My faith is barren / I don't believe the prayer / and it's not a sin / and it's not an opinion." "Our Trip" and "Forward" are likewise furious and insistent. Here, there and everywhere, the Thermals take no guff -- and no prisoners. -- Mike Corrigan
Publication date: 12/30/04