Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Before Our Time: Seven Mary Three - Rock Crown

This was the beautiful original cover that was later changed when sales slacked

Although this album wasn’t technically speaking ‘before my time’, it was most certainly before its time. At the time of its release (1997) I was lost some where in a small town in Arizona, 98 KUTP was my only source of musical extraction and Wal-Mart was my indie music store, daunting, I know… but all the internet in my little town was dial-up and so the music I discovered was on the radio. In 1995, Seven Mary Three was on the top of the charts with Cumbersome and Waters Edge… I never bought the album American Standard for whatever reason; I am sure I recorded them from the radio and included them on a couple of mixed tapes. I offer this information not as an excuse but rather as an explanation for the significance of Rock Crown.

American Standard was you’re typical 90’s Album, grunge rock at its worst/best… It was at that place there record labels were trying to find something different in American Music, The British had Radiohead and we were still hanging on to the last breath of the dead Kurt Cobain. So the labels through some chores into the guitar, allow the band one acoustic song… don’t forget the over use of big bass overtones and WHAM! you have American Standard… in raw form a brilliant album, over produced in the studio. For the next two years, 7M3 was on the road constantly. Okay, onto the reason for this post: Rock Crown:

In 1997, 7M3 turned to a studio in the French Quarter of New Orleans to put together their sophomore effort. Nestled in the corner of such a musically diverse town Rock Crown came about. Critically, Rock Crown received mixed reviews. Commercially, it was like committing suicide. The problem with Rock Crown was that it was everything that the 90’s were not; it was pure, simple and its production was basic. The first single, Lucky, was the antithesis or Cumbersome, acoustic and melancholy. Where, Jason Ross’ raspy voice would bark out the lyrics, now it quivers under emotion meaning. In moments where his bark was needed it was used with purpose.

Each song has such a unique quality. Yet as a collective, the album is full of spirit and life; something that was missing from alot of popular 90's music. The instumentation played a huge role in the unigue sound of the album. For example, the use of timpony on the opening sound. The use of a upright piano on, Player Piano. The distant sound of a muted trumpet in, I Could Be Wrong. The mix of gretty blues slide guitar and thick distortion in, What Angry Blue? and then ending the sound with real question on everyones mind in the 90's, What angry blue, has got into you?

Jason Ross, front man and mastermind of 7M3 is a lyriclist by trade and was lost somewhere in the genre of Grunge and might have found more friends among, Sam Bean, Jose Gonzales or Sean Hayes; the folk type. And Rock Crown, might fit better somewhere on your shelf with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's - I see Darkness or Bon Iver's - For Emma, Forever Ago.

Since Rock Crown, 7M3 have continued to release albums, 7 in total the most recent landing this last Feb. I have a listened to a little bit from each album... and have not found what I had hoped. Jason Ross says himself, "While I don’t think the record remains as epic a departure [from American Standard] as I would have liked in my minds eye… many of our fans over the years have told me it remains their personal favorite…"

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