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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Seven Mary Three

Day&nightdriving

Review by Gary Hill

I’m sure a lot of people remember Seven Mary Three for their hit “Cumbersome.” That song was curse for the band that came disguised as a blessing. It got them caught up in the whole “grunge” movement and propelled them into the big time before they were ready – it took off before they’d even been signed to a label – just off of an independent release. It got the band into the limelight, but it also wound up putting them in the unfortunate position of being pigeonholed. It also set them up very high with plenty of room to drop. The end result was that it’s taken them a while to find their musical identity, but this album is proof positive that they’ve done and done it with style. Day&nightdriving showcases a band that knows how to write powerful music and are not content to be tied to one sound or another. It flirts with indie rock, folk, country and plenty of other sounds. The key element here is excellent songwriting and emotion packed deliveries. These things contribute to making this a fine release and a great way to get acquainted with an old musical friend.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Last Kiss
This rises up with a droning sort of acoustic type sound. The vocals come in over the top and it’s quickly obvious that we’ve got a great slice of indie rock here with a focus on songwriting. They power it up later in the piece, but never lose sight of the melody and focus. I like how they sort of wind it up to almost a false ending and then launch back in. It’s a cool song that does a good job of setting the album up.
Laughing Out Loud
“Laughing Out Loud” is a bit slower number, but it’s also a little crunchier. It feels like poetry set to music. I like the heavy overdriven sound, principally because it’s such a stark contrast to the balladic structure that makes up the track at the level of its songwriting.
Was A Ghost
This cut has a faster pace to it. It’s an up-tempo rocker that’s quite strong. There is a droning, almost staccato section on this track that reminds me a bit of The Clash. There is definitely a punk sensibility laid across the indie rock tapestry that makes up this piece. They drop it way down mid song, but bring it back up in a crunchy sonic celebration.

Dreaming Against Me
With its Americana, nearly country music based approach this reminds me a lot of Cracker. This track is a lot less hard rocking than the songs that came before, but still we get some rock and roll in the vocal line. As it moves out into the chorus in the later portions of the track it powers up and takes on a bit more of that punk element.
Hammer & A Stone
This one drops down a long way in terms of intensity. It’s a singer/songwriter styled ballad that has a lot of folk music at its core. This is a cool track with a very sparse arrangement. The vocal performance on this really carries the number. It’s actually one of my favorites of the set.
Break The Spell
We’re back into harder rocking territory with this cruncher. It’s still packed with emotion and angst, but it’s got some crunch. The music feels soaring in some ways. It’s another highlight of the disc.
You Think Too Much
Percussion leads this one off and the rest of the band join after a few measures. This feels like it’s going to power out into a real stomper but instead drops way down for the verse. The chorus on this song is really catchy.
Strangely At Home Here
Mellow balladic stylings start this off. The vocals are delivered in an almost Dylanesque fashion. This has a musical motif that reminds me a bit of America (or another of those 1970’s mellow rock bands). There are some hints of that country texture that showed up on “Dreaming Against Me.” This is a compelling piece of music and another standout in the set.

She Wants Results
This number should be a single – perhaps that’s the plan (do they still release singles outside of R&B and hip hop?). In any event, this is a cut that feels immediately familiar. It’s got a great indie rock sound that is based on a balladic song structure. It’s like Bob Dylan getting redone by an alternative rock group. I like this one a lot. Everything is exactly where it should be.

Upside Down
“Upside Down” comes in extremely countrified, but settles into a more acoustic ballad approach. It’s loaded with Americana and is very much in a singer/songwriter style. It’s also a great piece of music.
Dead Days in the Kitchen
Acoustic ballad stylings lead things off here and serve as the backdrop for this song. It’s a very emotional piece and another highlight. It just goes to show that when a tune is well written and delivered with conviction it doesn’t need a big electrified arrangement. This is one of the mellowest pieces on show here, but it’s also one of the most powerful ones.
Things I Stole
With another acoustic based cut to end the disc, if I were to question any decision here, it might be that. Perhaps the album would have been stronger had they ended on an electric rocker and separated out these two mellow pieces. This is another with a lot of conviction behind it.

 
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