Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Retrospective: 3 (Part 1)

Nearly two and a half years ago I went into my introduction of the band 3. In an attempt not to basically write the same article twice, just slightly updated, I'm going to try and keep this article to the point; the basics of each album and their stylistic changes over each and their career. Also, my writing chops have evolved quite a bit, as have my musical tastes and the ability to pull from a song, so hopefully this will be full of new material for you long-time fans (not that I believe there are many).

Paint By Number - 1999
In my past article I claimed this group to be a funk/progressive crossover and listening to Paint By Number it would be apparent to make that leap. This is their first and their most 'alternative' sounding one too date. The songs meander between a heavier almost-metal sound and a light story-telling motif. Subjects cross into love, loss, astronauts, with a surprising number of thinly-veiled suicide references, leading the album to come slightly into the 90s emo movement (not the shitty emo-punk bands of the 2000s, I mean real emo music from the 80s and early 90s). Through all of these styles there is a solid underpinning of bass guitar; most songs containing a heavy hand with the instrument. And it's not just simple riffs or an echo of the drums or lead guitar, this is some stand-alone playing, something that you would notice missing if it were removed, something most bands can't claim. My favorite song off the album, and of 3's career in general, is still "You Call Me Baby," another love song with vague references to suicide and other weird shit but still oddly beautiful. Other songs I like (I don't know if they're recent additions as I've listened to all of these albums probably a  dozen times at this point) are "You've Been Shot," "Leaving After All," "Wrongside," "Paint By Number," "Astroknot," "Better State of Mind," and "Policeman," quite a lot of the album all told (nine of fourteen). If you have the album then you'll see that the majority of the first half of the album is on here, and as I said before this is the more funk-oriented half and it is the grouping I like the best. I like prog, but some good funk rock/metal really puts it over the top.

Half Life - 2002
Following a debut with a live album is almost industry practice nowadays. Think about it, the average act has been together for five or more years before they ever get signed or record their debut album, giving them a ton of time to know which of their songs to put on the first release. They don't have as much time to put forth their second, so a hastily put-together live release - with a couple of new tracks - makes perfect sense. What is great about Half Life is that seven of the ten tracks are brand new (at least at the time of release), giving fans an almost entirely new release of the group's. Most of these songs will be re-recorded in later discs, leaving only three or four that haven't seen the light of day... yet - 3 has the tendency to re-record a lot of their songs, so I think it's only a matter of time. By the time I had discovered this group (sometime between 2004 and 2007 as Wake Pig was my first taste of the group) most of the songs had been re-released on other discs so initially this album fell by the wayside, but in more recent listens is becomes more apparent that this is a disc worth cherishing. The songs on this live album are drastically different then their studio counterparts, with some being better and some the live norm of being worse, but all are different. Usually I don't like live albums, unless they add something new or are really different, and Half Life fills this necessity.  These songs are more blues and jazz-oriented then their prog/metal studio counterparts. While this will never be my favorite 3 album, it is something to notice and take account of, for it adds another level of the band and their sound.

Summercamp Nightmare - 2003
Their second studio full-length and their lightest sounding yet. Summercamp Nightmare isn't anything I'd call metal, or even alternative metal at that. There are some darker themes here but for the most part the songs are light and more alternative rock then anything else. Although I am a man who likes his metal (as made apparent by this site) I actually like this lighter side somewhat. 3 has never been the heaviest band, but usually they mix in the light with the heavy and some impressive guitar playing throughout. It being the entire album gets kind of tiring somewhat, but it's nice to see an act experimenting a bit. Three of these songs are studio recordings of tracks only heard previously on Half-Life, which makes it the last album which doesn't re-record/release a previously recorded studio track, with at least one track off of Summercamp Nightmare appearing on all of the following albums. This album does host a couple of my favorite songs from 3, "Amaze Disgrace" and "The Latest from Mars," both of which have a great musical quality to them and some witty lyrics throughout. Another song of mention is "Signs of Life," which stands out because of its drastic stylistic differences from pretty much everything on the disc. The song is fast and relies on a very quick and high-pitched chorus to carry it along. The way it all works together is a little odd and off-putting, but it's memorable to say the least.

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