Punk has grown as a term to encompass an eclectic array of approaches, and its infiltration of guitar-based underground music is now so complete that everything that's at least midtempo seems to bear some imprint of the style. It's to the point where calling a band punk is no more descriptive than saying it plays rock. Which maybe is a good thing. Take the Thermals.
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Their quick, clipped, passionate songs certainly pack enough sonic wallop to be contemporaries of old-school punkers Fastbacks or Redd Kross, but there's also an '80s alt-rock element that recalls the rabid guitar bite of acts like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk. There are even times when the band recalls the quirky '90s indie rock sound of Built to Spill. But let's be clear: The Thermals are the Thermals -- a band that combines alt-rock melodicism with punk-rock attack for a furious, tuneful sound that's as timeless as it is beholden to the past. Herald the new punk, same as the old punk, because while the names may change, good music is still just good music.