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Third Eye Blind

Third Eye Blind

(Electra)

Performance: ****

Sonics: ****

It's been a while since their eponymous debut ('97), but the vinyl version still seems readily available, and, as their new album is still to appear and, as this one has been getting a lot of spin time on the Gyrodec, I thought it worthy of review.
If you've only heard the singles "Semi Charmed Life" and "Jumper", you could be forgiven for thinking that 3EB was just another lightweight guitar pop band aimed squarely at the teenage market. Anyone buying the album on that assumption is in for a bit of a surprise as 3EB know how to create a loud and glorious noise when they get going. But there's more to 3EB than just cranking up the Marshalls and letting it rip. There's some inventive songwriting on show here, with clever and incisive lyrics and a strong sense
of melody.
The band itself is a classic 4 piece: Brian Hargreaves (drums), Arion Salazar (bass), , Kevin Cardogan (guitar)and Stephen Jenkins (vocals and percussion). All hail from Berkeley and these going-on-30 Gen-Xers do what a good 4 piece should do: play well and tightly together and write and perform songs about falling in and out of love teenage angst. fighting against the odds etc.
Despite adhering to the standard "modern rock" wall-of-grunge guitar ethic, they manage to create a sound of their own which contrasts catchy melodies with driving explosions of guitar drums and bass. What makes this album great, though is the strength and variety of the song writing by Jenkins and Cardogan (all good bands have to have a songwriting duo, it's an unwritten rule). It's rare these days to find an album that has no weak songs on it (I think this malaise is entirely due to the advent of the CD, but that's an argument for another day) and while I wouldn't go so far as to say there are no weaknesses, there is very little filler here. Even the "hanson-esque" single Semi-Charmed Life doesn't seem out of place in the context of the rest of the album.
3EB conjure up catchy anthems that make you want to bob your head and sing along. As for weaknesses: they could be accused of being overtly commercial on some f their songs (but then, so could the Beatles) and they do perhaps overplay the "starts off slow and quiet, then gets loud and fast" formula (Rage Against the Machine have a lot to answer for). Highlights: "losing a whole year", "how's it going to be","burning man"."good for you" and "god of wine". any one of which. would make an average album worth buying. The fact
there are that many musical highlights on this album speaks for itself.
It's records like this and K from Britain's Kula Shaker, not to mention OK Computer from Radiohead. that give me hope for the future of
rock/whatever-rock is-being-called-today.The vinyl version comes as a 2 record set, which is usually good news from a Sonics standpoint as the mastering engineer has more room for each track and, in theory, can cut with a wider dynamic range and allow for more space between grooves, leading to a quieter background. Happily whoever mastered this disk (no credits) knew their stuff. The vinyl is nice and quiet and there is lots of slam and no distortion. The sound itself is par for the course these days: rolled-off treble, but rock solid bass, which is how it was mixed. Although there is lots of (tube) compression used in the recording, it's used fairly tastefully and doesn't compromise the dynamics too much. There is also very sparing use of voice processing. so Jenkins, emotive, sometimes plaintive (but never whiney) vocals are mostly preserved intact.
=JHS


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