Nitros City

Thumb - Nitros City ©1997 Wings Entertainment
1. Shallow Grave
2. Wrong Way Home
3. Stick 2 Fingers
4. Jealousy
5. All Save The Day
6. Some Memory Of A Man
7. Nitros City
8. Untitled
9. Mind My Dream
10. Ham & Beef
11. Tired Show
12. How Full Of Concern
13. Ono
14. Humble

On the first listen to this Austrialian act's CD, I was furiously annoyed with the ambitious music that came up a bit short in the execution. In a way, Thumb reminds me a bit of Clockhammer, who also started out rather sluggishly on their first album before hitting the proverbial nail on the head with the following two albums. Thumb is very adventurous in their music, bursting forth with melancholy passages, wandering lead guitar lines and unorthodox song structure. Where they trip themselves up is often using vocals that are off key or act as a severe detraction from the music. While the music sounds as if they have spent quite a bit of time composing, the vocals seem somewhat haphazard and carelessly pasted onto the music. It takes some effort to ignore them and concentrate on the actual music. As with Clockhammer, perhaps Agitpop or even fIREHOSE, there is a lot of information presented inside and each listen presents something new. I don't begrudge a band for being so meandering in their music, though at times I do wish they would reel in just a tad. Hopefully they'll keep working on the vocals in the future and sharpen up the focus a bit.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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Strange Kept Plain

Thumb - Strange Kept Plain ©2001 Nitros City Records
1. Feeling All Right
2. Temptation
3. Meaningless Affair
4. Kissing The Toad
5. Strange Kept Plain
6. Behringer
7. On The Side
8. Heaven In You
9. Keep It Simple
10. Silver Band
11. Dark Blue
12. Alone (the Night The Broken Lake Waved)
13. Champion Of The World

Now this is what I like to hear. Thumb's last CD, Nitros City, was a mixed bag of good ideas unable to deliver successfully on their concepts. However, after a few years, Thumb has resurfaced with Strange Kept Plain, an album showing remarkable improvement all around. Whether it's a sign of growth, better skill or simply knowing how to reign themselves in to create a much more focused musical attack, Thumb has impressed me with Strange Kept Plain.

Thumb is still plying wares in the same marketplace as fIREHOSE meets Clockhammer, retaining the sense of quirky, offbeat compositions. This time, however, the guitars contain a thicker bite, great sense of texture from song to song and a looseness Clutch listeners might appreciate. The most impressive part of the album is the bass playing of Brendan Ewing, which provides an intriguing countermelody that weaves and meanders all over the place on each song. This alone should catch the interest of Mike Watt fans who constantly are on the lookout for impressive bassists. The vocals still are a tad touch and go, but they sound much more confident than on Nitros City. The singing certainly doesn't detract from the overall musical picture, fortunately. The songs range all over the place, from uptempo rockfests to acoustic pieces.

Strange Kept Plain is definitely a good showing from Thumb. While there are moments that are still somewhat ragged, the improvement from the last long player to this one shows this band could be extremely impressive next time around. Fans of quirky alterna-rock should definitely check this out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2001

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