Music

Thank You: Golden Worry

Though there has yet to be a single musician or band that can act as a succinct exemplar of Baltimore's sound, Thank You's latest album, Golden Worry, may come closest to summarizing the vibe, spirit, and sonic sensations that have made Baltimore's underground community what it is today.


Thank You

Golden Worry

Label: Thrill Jockey
US Release Date: 2011-01-25
UK Release Date: TBD
Amazon
iTunes

When Baltimore became home to the alternative music scene to talk about, the eclectic collective of musical talent posed a bit of a problem to journalists. Namely, how to describe the scene and sound. All the underground and independent musical movements in America's recent past had a mess of bands that shared sonic sensibilities. There was Seattle's grunge scene, Chicago's industrial sound -- every sub-genre of hip-hop from juke to bounce had a distinct hometown flavor. Even closer to Baltimore, a quick drive south on I-95 brings one to D.C.: despite the sea changes and evolutions in D.C.'s punk scene, folks could still pinpoint a "D.C. sound", no matter the year or decade.

And then Baltimore had to go and mess all that up. Dan Deacon, the Baltimore scene's iconic ringleader, creates jarring, complex electronic music that sounds nothing like the minimalist, guttural tones of post-punkers Double Dagger. The sensual ambiance of Beach House's folky tunes doesn't really mesh well with hip-hop noiseniks Food For Animals. Ditto for the cutesy, stark anti-folk of Santa Dads and the spastic, schizophrenic tunes by the Death Set. Wzt Hearts and Future Islands? Kind of different. Same with Teeth Mountain and Ponytail. Same with Ecstatic Sunshine and Lexie Mountain Boys.

The diverse array of sounds has defined Baltimore as the kind of open-to-all-possibilities sanctuary that the musical community there no doubt cherishes. Though there has yet to be a single musician or band that can act as a succinct exemplar of Baltimore's sound, Thank You's latest album, Golden Worry, may come closest to summarizing the vibe, spirit and sonic sensations that have made Baltimore's underground community what it is today.

The trio's third full-length sees the band expanding their sound beyond the high-octane post-punk affair that caused folks to compare Thank You to the equally cathartic art-punk act Ponytail. Yes, their frenetic, guitar-happy sound is alive and well. That sound just happens to be treated like clay on Golden Worry: it's mashed and smashed, molded and folded with a new set of tools, thrown into the kiln for a good bit of warmth, and then covered in an array of exquisite colors.

The band's brought in a mess of tools for shaping the album, which the album's press release is happy to advertise: the guys use a harmonica, Fender Twin Reverb amps, a jaw harp, a mini-Moog, '60s Vox organs, and a sampler. Shiny new tools don't always improve a sound, but fortunately Thank You's Jeffrey McGrath, Michael Bouyoucas and Emmanuel Nicolaidis know their way around a good song.

The result is an unfortunately all-too short album that deftly and smartly balances frenzied punk, aural ambience and a little bit of pop friendliness. Tunes like "Birth Reunion" show that the band can handle light, airy sounds with grace, only to transform it with a wave of kinetic, jagged post-punk for a thrilling listen. On Golden Worry, Thank You borrowed sonic ideas from other beloved Baltimore acts, ran with it, and produced an album that's a great representation of the band and its city.

Sure, it may not sound like a strict amalgamation of all of Baltimore's finest. But, who would want that? Such an overt concept would be nothing but messy and dysfunctional. Fortunately, the six songs on Golden Worry are only messy when they need to be.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Film

Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.

Music

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.

Books

Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.

Music

Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Music

Folk's Jason Wilber Examines the World Through a Futurist Lens in 'Time Traveler' (album stream)

John Prine's former guitarist and musical director, Jason Wilber steps out with a new album, Time Traveler, featuring irreverent, pensive, and worldly folk music.

Music

Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers Head "Underwater" in New Video (premiere)

Celebrating the first anniversary of Paper Castles, folksy poppers Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers release an uplifting new video for opening track, "Underwater".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.