3rd Degree: Radio 7

3rd Degree
Radio 7
self-released
2001-07-07

“What you will NOT see is a crappy self made CD recorded on a friend’s MY-FIRST-4-TRACK.” This is but one of many bold suggestions sprinkled throughout 3rd Degree’s bio information on their snazzy website. These guys want you to know they’re all about high quality pop. I want you to know they’re another bland, emotionless vehicle that has the potential to sell like hotcakes. Well, at least they look good. And as we all know, looking good is about 20% more important than actually sounding good anymore.

It’s easy to pass these guys over. There’s nothing here that wouldn’t sound good on the radio, and nothing here that you need to hear outside of your car stereo. Radio 7 is nice background noise that no one will bitch about until they really start listening to it. From the opening, harmony-laden “Leave Yourself Behind” complete with gritty guitar to make sure this band stays in the legit frame of mind to the closing “Anyway I” that really makes you want to believe these guys can kick it into rock overdrive, 3rd Degree is essentially a sad mass of typically unobtrusive pop that sells a lot of Tommy Hilfiger shirts.

Their saccharine overtones remind me a lot of the annoying glop that the Goo Goo Dolls put out. The music that 3rd degree issues forth on Radio 7 makes such bland alt-rockers like the Gin Blossoms seem positively exhilarating. The grandiose “Worlds Collide” will no doubt touch the self-proclaimed sensible shoppers out there and make one hell of a soft focused video. The guitars riff and soar, but they’re musically flatulent. The rhythm section featuring Adam Blake on drums is rudimentary at best, offering up elemtary beats and expected fills. Get excited. Please.

“Needless to say the album rocks” goes another bio statement. Does it really? Well if that’s the case, why am I still standing here, ready to to listen to something else? Radio 7 features producer Jim Ebert, who’s worked with other VH1 heavyweights like Meredith Brooks and the roundly dissed Marvelous 3 (I’m sure you’ve forgotten Hey Album! as much as I have by now). Supposedly 3rd Degree echoes everyone from the Beatles to Bowie and T. Rex? What? OK, everyone likes to throw in the Beatles as a touch point anymore, but there’s no glam going on here. Not in the creaky “Maid of Honor”, not in the sleepwalked-rock of “Don’t Walk Away”, and certainly not in the big tearjerker “Alone” that even sports a phony Brit accent. I’m telling you right now that those fake accents are becoming a huge pet peeve for me anymore. Stop trying to be ELO, boys. Jeff Lynne would be ashamed.

But as I said, Radio 7‘s the kind of album that will sell a lot just because the pop presented here is as enjoyable as vanilla ice cream. Everyone likes it generally, but deep down most people enjoy a more exciting flavor to sink their taste buds into. 3rd Degree are harmless. If you backed them into a corner, they’d retaliate with their fresh faces and plastic harmonies. You’d back away. Perhaps not in enjoyment, but just because you’d realize that there are so many other bands worth fighting for. But given the fact that his album was released a couple months ago and I’m only now hearing of them, could I presume that 3rd degree has gotten the third degree? OK, I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

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