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Seven Mary Three: Orange Ave.
Seven Mary Three: Orange Ave.
turnover time:2024-06-22 05:18:08

For all the talk of "alternative music" and "modern rock" in the post-Nirvana world, an awful lot of successful new bands have had massive hits that baldly recycle the sounds of bad '70s AOR and worse '80s pop-metal cheese. Smash singles like Candlebox's "Far Behind" and The Offspring's "Gone Away" could easily be newly unearthed Winger singles, but that didn't stop them from thriving in a radio system that had supposedly abandoned that sort of embarrassing mush. Florida's Seven Mary Three has been one of the most objectionable, derivative, overblown products of mid-'90s rock radio: American Standard, its 1995 major-label debut, and "Cumbersome," one of that album's awful hit singles, were smashes, despite the fact that both were depressing, cartoonishly overwrought, bleating nightmares. But a strange thing has happened as the prolific group has released its second and third albums, 1997's RockCrown and the new Orange Ave.: It's slowly getting better. RockCrown's second half had a number of subtly poignant moments, aided by singer Jason Ross' wise decision to eschew his huffing-and-puffing delivery on some tracks. And though Seven Mary Three still won't be mistaken for a creative dynamo—its diversity generally means there's a wider variety of forgettable rock songs from which to choose on Orange Ave.—it's certainly not so difficult to endure, sort of like the work of an accomplished but underwhelming bar band. That's no reason to dash over to your local record store, of course, but it's a start. The downside With the exception of a few songs like "Flagship Eleanor" and the tortured ballad "Southwestern State," Seven Mary Three's sound isn't as instantly recognizable—"Super-Related" is catchier than most of 7M3's material, in part because it sounds nothing like it—which ironically means that the diversity and relative painlessness of Orange Ave. could spell the band's commercial doom. Candlebox already suffered that fate with 1995's dud Lucy, the follow-up to the group's self-titled, inexplicably four-million-selling debut. And, a nationally publicized riot at a recent in-store appearance notwithstanding, it's hard to imagine anyone caring about the generic trifle that is Happy Pills. The cringe-inducingly hokey single "It's Alright" is prolonging public knowledge of Candlebox's existence—unlike anything on Seven Mary Three's new album, it's bad enough to be a hit—but everything else here is just stupefyingly generic. Just about every chorus is delivered in the same phony "Hey, mama" whine; Candlebox may have conveniently formed in Seattle in late '91, but its members might as well be playing flying-V guitars. That doesn't preclude its success, of course; Candlebox's commercial prognosis looks a lot better than Seven Mary Three's, in part because, unlike its peer, it's not foolish enough to try to evolve.

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