Thurst is a band made up of siblings Kory and Jessie Seal with a bassist named Mark C. holding down the low end of what is possibly one of my favorite submissions ever. The Simi Valley-based band sent us 9-track demo YSFC and, while we don’t review demos as a rule because it’s unfair passing judgement on an unfinished product, I’m so smitten with Thurst’s ballsy 9-track mix of sneering post-punk indie underground splooge, it’s unfair NOT to share.
Finally: a band that isn’t leaning on nostalgia and vintage clothing as a stand in for substance, a band ready to administer well-aimed and overdue kick to the hornet’s nest of hip without fear of social consequences. Thurst are mathy and grungey and indie in the way indie was when it was a lifestyle rather than a sound. It’s rough and mean but melodic in that Feelies vein, even a little bluesy in parts the more you listen to YSFC as a whole. But here is what Thurst is not: garage, psych, shoegaze, dream pop or any permutation thereof. Thurst are outsiders, real punks, thumbing their noses at the established hierarchy of cool and calling out everything that needs to be called out, the way a proper RnR band should. It’s not that Thurst’s music is without precedence but more that it’s not really the thing at the moment, this snotty-shouty-post-punk vibe they’ve got going on all the more exciting for being unfashionable.
“YSFC” is an acronym for “You’re so fucking cool,” which ought to give you a decent idea of what and whom Thurst are targeting with their wordy, pointed lyrics. That’s another thing–Thurst can really write lyrics, their arty barbs enhanced by the Seals’ off-kilter harmonizing and phrasing. On “YSFC” Jessie and Kory shout insults back and forth, the contempt dripping from their voices “like a dog’s tongue on a hot day,” to quote one of the song’s more evocative similes. It sounds they’re having an argument except that their beef is really with us as the more scathing lines of the song make clear. A sampling: “Conceived in 1993 but you’re stuck in the 60s” or “What do you still have your shades on for?” and “I pledge allegiance to the flag…of delusion!” Subtle it’s not but subtly be damned. Amongst so much artifice and ass-kissing in the local music scene, Thurst sound realer than real, truer than true.
Sometimes I feel like my general disappointment with the lack of adventurousness and politics in underground music is because my understanding of what an underground scene can and should be is an outdated concept of cultural output based on opposition to the mainstream. The modern interpretation is the opposite, its main goal appearing to be the creation of a mini-mainstream dressed in the guise of the underground and opposed to any internal criticism of values, perceptions and even art itself. Thurst is the first band that makes me think maybe someone agrees with me. When Kory exclaims, “Holy shit you’re smug!” in the bridge of “YSFC” it’s exactly the big FUCK YOU I’ve been waiting to hear since what seems like forever. Although they haven’t released a proper record yet, Thurst can comfortably be counted among bands like Girlpool, Clearance, and King of Cats, all of whom are rediscovering the latent quality of lo-fi music to act as a medium for saying anything you fucking well please, not just what people want to hear.