The Kids Are Alright

Welcome to Our America (ear X-tacy)
Surviving Thalia

By Kevin Gibson

This is an angry quartet of four young guys who aren't just expressing their anger through loud music - they have a mission as well. The mission: To educate us about what's going on in our society and government and to exact change.

Ambitious stuff for a rock band.

But this is about the music and Surviving Thalia isn't the average hardcore band. Formed in 2004 here in Louisville, Surviving Thalia combines modern hardcore with the best Bad Religion had to offer and with occasional glimmers of Suicidal Tendencies. (That's high praise coming from me.) But there's also scattered evidence of other influences such as southern style hardcore, straight-ahead metal and even jazz.

"Junkies and Freaks" offers an interesting view on society that suggests our society's dysfunction will eventually lead to the creation of more and more junkies and freaks and eventually they will outnumber the normal folks and take over. And the song is delivered with so much raw energy and urgency that you'll almost believe it.

Meanwhile, "The Delphi Technique" posits that television is bent on taking over our minds. What they're saying, really, is that the media is shaping our minds and has become a tool of the administration: "So hail to the thief while he rapes and plunders / And excavates, forcing us under." Like many of Surviving Thalia's songs, there's enough breakdown - complete with surprisingly slick and melodic backing vocals - to keep the guitars and machine-gun drumming from tearing a hole in your brain.

Ditto for the successfully earnest "Industry of Manipulation." And "Recurring Nightmare" is an ironic story told from the point of view of a Westerner who joins Al-Qaeda, ending with the words, "Let's roll." Very creative. The same goes for "Fish Fight F**k," which is a not-so-subtle jab at redneck culture (is that an oxymoron?).

Thalia can miss the mark at times, however. "Deconstructing a Gift" is an F-you message to a lying, cheating girl that is dragged down with gratuitous expletives and a lyric that seems downright dumb compared to most of the songs on this album. "Liar, slut, liar, slut / What do you say to that, you little f**king bitch / What the f**k did I ever do to you / Have you lost your f**king mind." Nice. I can only hope this is parody I somehow missed. If not, then next time send a letter, guys.

I can forgive a misstep, however, in light of all the strengths here. Overall, this is a satisfying 45 minutes of music that provides plenty to think about along the way. I hear the live show is a blast, too. Take your earplugs and a sense of humor.

Get over to www.survivingthalia.com to find out more.