Thistle – Tired Anchor

Thistle
Tired Anchor

Back when “alternative” was a buzzword that actually applied to rock music – an alternative to mainstream radio – it was the mid-90s, an era that I think will forever remain my favorite for rock. It seemed, in the mid-90s, that the guitar was king, and the pure, pristine sounds of the electric guitar coupled with hooks gleaned from pop music and an utter lack of pretension made these the glory days of rock, in my mind. There was a discernable style – jangly electric guitar, catchy vocals – and that’s the tie in with Thistle’s new album.
Because Thistle has been playing rock and roll and releasing albums on their own Tiberius Records label since 1994. I suspect these guys have more than their share of love for the style I just discussed. And while Tired Anchor doesn’t sound like a rehashed album from 1994 – because who would want that? – it definitely draws many of the characteristics of that style in a way that brings back everything I loved about alternative. The guitars here are loud, a tad jangly, and powerful; the vocals are catchy and tight, the rhythm section perfectly paced.
The definitive song here is “New Christ Killer,” with its catchy chorus of “wish that better things would have happened here / dot-dot-dot we were young” and multiple guitars. The melodic underlying guitars on “Horns and Cavalry” make a nice accompaniment for the more mid-tempo track. The vocal style on “Apron Strings” and “Skinny Nails” – as well as the killer guitar riffs – brings back Where You Been?-era Dinosaur Jr. The melodic guitars of “And We’re Ghosts” and “Nation of Dives” give the songs a charming style that adds nicely to the more powerful guitars and incredibly tight instrumentation as a whole. “Repent! Repent!” rocks hard with a post-hardcore bent, only this band sounds like they’ve been doing it their whole life, and the crunchy guitars on “Daughters of Job” have a similar appeal. The band offers the occasional slower song too, such as “Arched or Bent, Every Cell gave In,” which while not working as well still show a talented band.
In truth, you can hear bits of a host of genres in these songs, from early Texas is the Reason and Promise Ring to Pavement and even hints of hardcore bands like Fugazi. But I keep coming back to bands like Sugar and Engine 88, the bands that defined the mid-90s for me. This band brings back that style with a modern twist. They do it remarkably well, creating a guitar-driven album that’s catchy, fun, and rocking.