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Local Band: The Thermals

Weekend!Music: Paranoid punk band has a vision of God
by: ©2006 TOM OLIVER, On their new album, the Thermals (from left: Kathy Foster, Lorin Coleman and Hutch Harris) give a punk soundtrack to their image of the U.S. taken over by religious fundamentalists.

On each subsequent release, Portland punk darlings the Thermals have stretched themselves a little further creatively, avoiding the trap of becoming one-trick musical ponies.

Their third and latest album, 'The Body, the Blood, the Machine' (just out on Sub Pop), continues that trend, delivering a concept album for the paranoid that also finds the band stretching out into more varied musical territory.

Loosely based around the idea of an America taken over by religious fundamentalists, 'The Body, the Blood, the Machine' jumps right into the fray with the opener 'Here's Your Future.' A straight-up punk-rock anthem complete with squealing guitars and urgent vocals, it starts the record off with a bang.

Unlike previous Thermals albums, this one takes time to slow down occasionally. 'Test Pattern' is a ballad by Thermals standards, and not all the songs whiz by at a frenetic pace.

Like many punk bands, the Thermals' real strength lies in their live performance - and with a new album to promote, Saturday's show should be a giddy, rocking affair.

- Barbara Mitchell

9 p.m. SATURDAY, Sept. 16, Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St., 503-284-8686, $12, all ages