“ Artist: Third Eye Blind / Release Date: 1997 / Genre: Indie Rock & Punk „
The year 1997 AD was interesting for a lot of reasons. Lady Diana Spencer died in a car accident in Paris, while, during the same year saint-in-waiting Mother Teresa also died - peacefully, as did designer Gianni Versace - rather more violently. Dolly the Sheep was cloned, the British lease on Hong Kong expired, Bill Clinton was sworn in for a second term as the big man in the White House (in more ways than one by all accounts), while, on the home front, we were entered the "presidency" of Tony Blair.
It was also the year that I fell in love with a brilliant new band on the strength of their first catchy single, a song which I was later surprised to find out was about the experience of getting high - and coming down from - crystal meth. The band was Third Eye Blind (3EB) and the song was the incredibly energetic "Semi-Charmed Life".
ABOUT THE BAND
3EB are an alternative rock band founded in San Francisco in the early 1990's. They are currently a three-piece fronted by Stephan Jenkins (lead vocals and guitar), with Brad Hargreaves on drums and Tony Fredianelli doing backing vocals and second guitar. Founding member Kevin Cadogan, who was their lead guitarist and co-wrote many of the songs on their first two albums, "left" the band in 2000 in acrimonious circumstances (he was allegedly voted off by the other members) and was replaced by Fredianelli. In addition, original bassist Aron Salazar has not been performing with the band of late, and his future remains unclear.
Their output - four studio albums twelve years - Third Eye Blind (1997), Blue (1999), Out of the Vein (2003), and Ursa Major (2009) - can hardly be called prodigious, but what they lack in quantity, they have more than made up for in terms of quality. A fifth album (tentatively called "Ursa Minor" and consisting of songs that didn't make the cut for "Ursa Major") has been mooted for release sometime in 2010. More info on the band can be found on the official website at www.3eb.com.
The band's eponymous debut album, released on Time Warner's Elektra label in April 1997 was by far their most successful, selling over 6 million copies worldwide. It spawned no less than five hit singles, three of which - "Semi-Charmed Life", "Jumper" and "How's It Going To Be?" all charted in the US Billboard Top Ten. It is currently available in CD and digital download formats on Amazon for £6.38. The CD booklet includes the song lyrics.
> Losing a Whole Year
The opening track to the album starts off with a softly plucked guitar, before the vocals, second guitar and drums kick in to unexpectedly launch us into an energetic and powerful track that belies its humble beginnings. However, initially it feels like a fizzing ball of energy without any focus, kind of like an electric shock, but it soon settles down and you find yourself subconsciously nodding along, or tapping your foot to the infectiously pounding drum track.
The song is quite shouty, and to be frank, without the welcome aid of the lyrics printed in the CD sleeve, it would have been hard to make them out. It's a clever composition about a bored, spoiled little rich girl with more good looks and money than sense, living a sad and empty life. She shacks up with a fella, but once the initial excitement and lust wears off, they sink into a mundane and boring existence of arguments, internet chat rooms, telly and Prozac. Not the most uplifting of tracks - in fact the lyrics seem totally at odds with the energy of the track - but an impressive start nonetheless.
"When you start talking I hear the Prozac. Convinced you've found your place with the pierced queer teens in cyberspace. When you were yourself it tasted sweet - but it sours into a routine deceit."
> Semi-Charmed Life
The third track on the album was their most commercially successful single and was the song that captured my imagination and made me a fan. It is a fantastically well put together composition, with a number of changes of pace, an infectious backing track and an unrestrained joy that disguises its dark and seedy underbelly. The song grabs you right from the start with its driving baseline and skittish, often jarring guitars - it's a track that defies you to sit still - a seemingly perfect analogy for its controversial subject of getting high and coming down from a crystal meth hit (not that I would know).
The song plays out like a conversation with someone suffering from attention deficit disorder - at times agitated and desperate, at times reflective, at others mellow and introspective, before breaking out with passages of energetic and joyful exuberance that have you enthusiastically humming along with the chorus, forgetting for a moment you are sharing a moment with a drug-addled meth addict.
"I believe in the sand between my toes and the beach gives a feeling, an earthy feeling, I believe in the faith that grows, and the four right chords can make me cry, and when I'm with you I feel like I could die and that would be all right..."
Given the helter skelter nature of the first few tracks, Jumper provides a soothing interlude - rather like a dollop of cooling aloe vera on a wicked sunburn. The instrumentation is toned down, allowing the listener to hear more of the subtlety and emotional impact that Jenkins is capable of delivering with his voice. The singer is having a one-sided dialogue with someone standing (either physically or metaphorically) on a ledge, contemplating the idea of jumping off (hence the song title).
Despite that, it's not necessarily a song about suicide, but rather about someone who is about to make a crucial decision at a life-changing moment, and, if listened to in the right mood, comes across as encouraging rather than judgmental. It is a mellower and more thoughtful track than its predecessors, and given that the vocals are pushed to centre stage at the expense of the instrumentation, the lyrics seem to pack more of a punch as well.
"And I, I want you to know, everyone's got to face down the demons. Maybe today, we can put the past away. I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend..."
> How's It Going To Be?
Another welcome interlude which is introduced by a muted drum track and contemplative guitars which are entirely in keeping with the lyrics. This is a downbeat and moody song about a relationship that seems to be slowly and inexorably breaking into pieces. The singer is remembering the good times, regretting where it is all headed, and wondering how it will be when they are no longer together any more. There is a painful poignancy to the track that many people will be able to relate to - it packs a powerful emotional punch long before the change of pace in the latter part of the song as it explodes into an angst-ridden plea with Jenkins raging against the inevitable.
"Where we used to laugh, there's a shouting match, sharp as a thumbnail scratch - a silence I can't ignore - the hammocks and the doorways we spent time in swing empty..."
> Motorcycle Drive By
There are some very good songs in the six tracks between "How's it Going To Be" and this, the penultimate offering on the album. However, in terms of finding a great balance between production, pace, instrumentation and lyrics, this song borders on masterpiece. It is certainly one of the best songs that 3EB have written, and given how lyrically accomplished it is, it leaves me wondering quite why they never made the impact that their talent so richly merited.
A paen to the anguish of unrequited love, this song expertly catches the pining and suffering of loving something or someone to the point you think you will explode - all the while harbouring the painful knowledge that you will never possess it and that the passion and the desire will never be returned. The poignant but brilliantly self-aware declaration "I've never been so alone, but I've never been so alive" perfectly captures one of the great paradoxes in life - it's pain that often defines us and helps us discover who we are. This is a powerful and insightful song that is emotionally draining and invigorating at the same time.
"When I came to visit you, that's when I knew. I could never have you. I knew that before you did. Still, I'm feeling stupid and there's this burning - like there's always been. I've never been so alone. And I've never been so alive..."
In truth, I had no idea what to expect when I bought this album, especially as I already have an unwanted collection of one-hit wonders gathering dust in my CD-collection. However, I was very pleasantly surprised - but not in the manner I thought I would be. Despite being hooked in by Semi-Charmed Life, the single turned out to be something of a one-off - the song is fairly unrepresentative of the rest of the album. Along with the highlights picked out above, "Graduate", "Background" and "God of Wine" also stand-out as note-worthy compositions.
The up-side was that there were a lot of other songs on the album that were as good, but in many different ways. It's an almost flawless debut - almost too good - as in my view, and that of many others - their subsequent work suffers in comparison to this first effort. There are very few tracks that could be called weak, and to the extent that they are found wanting, it's only because the rest of the songs are so accomplished. The album covers a spectrum of emotions delivered earnestly, honestly and with a lyrical style bordering on poetry. This album is a definite grower. Some of the songs don't particularly catch you at first, but the more you listen to it, the more gems you will discover in its hidden depths.
It certainly has an enduring appeal - the decade plus since its original release has done little to temper its power and impact. It still retains a freshness and relevance, evidenced by the fact that some of the songs still continue to get significant world-wide airplay. Hopefully, their new material will revive interest in their back catalogue. Don't let this outstanding work pass you by.
FULL TRACK LISTING
1. Losing a Whole Year (3:21)
2. Narcolepsy (3:49)
3. Semi-Charmed Life (4:29)
4. Jumper (4:33)
5. Graduate (3:10)
6. How's It Going to Be (4:14)
7. Thanks a Lot (4:58)
8. Burning Man (3:00)
9. Good for You (3:52)
10. London (3:07)
11. I Want You (4:29)
12. The Background (4:57)
13. Motorcycle Drive By (4:23)
14. God of Wine (5:18)
© Hishyeness 2010
If circumstances arose where I had to beg you to own one CD in your entire collection, this would be the one. I first heard this band in college when Semi Charmed Life (Track 3) went into the charts and although this band were never famous everyone in my peer group has come about owning a copy and for them it holds an attachment to some kind of special memory. I'm not sure what it is that makes this band one of the greatest to have ever graced my music collection, perhaps the perfect voice of the lead singer, or the way that all of the music is tightly knitted together so that all of the instruments are played together in complete harmony, or even that their songs are so easy to understand and so addictive. Obviously I wouldn't expect anyone to hold the same emotional attachment to this album as I do, but I think that you'd be hard pressed not to like it, or simply dismiss it.
The whole album is great from start to finish. It opens with Track 1: "Loosing A Whole Year" and the emotion pours out as he sings about a wealthy girl who's been spoilt by her parents to the point she's had everything she wanted but felt unloved as a result, and wants to give it all up for a simple life. It's a slowish moving track but the feelings given out by the singer more than make up for it.
Next is Track 2: "Narcolepsy" which starts off slow. With gently strumming on the guitar. I've always had the feeling he's singing about being mentally out of control, and that as much as he doesn't want Narcolepsy to happen, it does and nightmares come along as a result, and tries his hardest to stave it off Obviously this is my own interpretation. but the lyrics are so wonderful and detailed that there could be several ways of reading into it. One thing that is definite for certain is that the guitar playing is like something I've ever heard on an album. Their tune is certainly unique and I think it portrays itself most prevalently in this song more than anywhere else in this album.
Third is "Semi Charmed Life" which is the song that introduced me to this band. The lyrics are quick paced along with the song and it feels like they are trying to cram 6 minutes of song into 3. It works well though and gives you that upbeat feeling. Even if the lyrics suggest otherwise.
Track 4: "Jumper" slows it down a bit and remains that way for about two and a half minutes into the song until the interlude and then picks up lovely with some wonderful high pitched electric guitar playing.
Track 5: "Graduate" is slow like track 4 but like singing with more passion and emotion. and again, the solo guitar work is phenomenal.
Track 6: "How's It Going To Be" is a slow song about taking as much emotional punishment as you can in a relationship and the consequences of ending it. It's powerful and they're really screaming out the lyrics at the end. It's obvious to see that they've put their heart and soul into this album.
Next it Track 7: "Thanks A Lot" Which is a slow song with heavy guitar playing. It calms the album down from running away with itself I think and sets everything back into perspective.
Track 8 follows titled "Burning Man" a nice slow song where you can really hear the bass guitar taken the main lead in this song and set the tune for the whole song.
Track 9: "Good For You" is a slow paced song and is the worst out of a fantastic bunch if that makes sense. it does have it's moments though and the background singing and the lead guitarist makes this a lovely song towards the end.
Track 10: "London" picks the pack up a bit, it's a fast moving song with some fast drumming and singing. I like the way it ends too the fade out is just a small amount of feedback noise and a quick exit.
Track 11: "I Want You" sets into place the mood for the rest of the album as it begins to slow itself down. It's nice to hear a song where the instruments don't take over and you feel like, although they are there the singing is so much more prevalent and allows you to concentrate on that. It's almost as if they want you to hear what they have to say.
Track 12: "The Background" is again slow, but the guitar is more intruding and there's more of an echo on the singers voice. There's also a lot of electrical feedback on the guitar and I think it adds to the effect personally.
Track 13: "Motorcycle Drive By" makes me slightly tearful given the right mood. The plucking of an acoustic guitar. This song tricks you a little by doing this, as it picks itself up a little minute in. There's something nice about this as its slow guitar playing with fast singing. It gets a lot quicker and you can really feel the emotion build.
Lastly is Track 14: "God Of Wine" which closes the album nicely and is another song on the album where the lyrics are meant to be heard and the music isn't. I think this is a great song to close the album with. It begins so slow I felt as f it was barely stated. The way the voice moves up and down throughout the song adds to the effect and the instruments complement the singing nicely in the background without taking over too much. Personally, I felt this was the right note to close the album on as it leaves you with a great level of reflection and leaves you with the sense of anticipation of wanting more.
Obviously this is only my interpretation, and having this as one of my favourite albums of all time probably leaves me slightly biased. But I'd like to think that it's worth a listen and you'd like it given the time and patience, whatever your preferred music genre.
This is the debut album by American serial hit makers Third Eye Blind and is a patchy affair containing momments of pure pop genius but frustratingly enough there are momments here of undeniable filler that taint what could be a near perfect debut album.
Tracks here such as the monster hit's 'Semi Charmed life', 'How's it gonna be' and 'Jumper' Cement the bands reputation as great pop song writers. This undeniable pop sensibility coupled with Stephen Jenkins ability to craft songs of pure beauty such as the lyricaly superb 'Motorcycle drive by' and the heartbreaking album closer 'God of Wine' go to show why Third Eye Blind are a band who have enjoyed emense commercial success in there native America and also a rabid cult following world wide.
The only problem with this album is Jenkins sometime habbit of drifting in to meandering mid tempo trakcs such as the meandering 'Thanks a lot' and the truley aweful 'I want you'.
But overall this is one of the better commercial rock albums to come out of the mid 90's and is well worth a listen for anyone who loves there songs to have a great tune and lyrics to sink your teeth in to
For a debut album, you probably couldn't do any better, and for anybody who has never listened to Third Eye Blind, I urge you to have a listen to this album, as it may just be the greatest listening experience you'll ever have. I bought Semi-Charmed life in Australia in 1997, and saw it appear in the UK about 6 months later, and yes, you do know the song, despite it being about drugs, its masked by a poppy, catchy tune (the do do do, dodo do do one). The album crashes into 'Losing a Whole Year' which I never liked until I actually listened to it (most of 3EB's song just take listening too, and then you'll be hooked) then the inspirinng 'Narcolepsy' Which starts slow and builds up to a thunderous pace while ending with Steven Jenkins reaching new ranges with his voice! Then its Semi-Charmed life, aptely placed third on the track-listing, and yes, it is irresistable, even it it is a lot faster than the original demo. Jumper is about suicide, and I don' know but it always makes me feel that little bit stronger, and any song that can do that is amazing. It was released over here, but obviously, wasn't 'Sclub7-y' enouhg to actually do anything. 'Graduate' is stroming, giving 3EB a chance to show their real rocking side. 'How's It Going To Be' is another single, that shoul dhave done brilliantly, but its quite irratating to think that hardly anybody will have heard it ever. Damn Radio 1. Mid tempo, although breaking out into a rock-fest towards to end. I used to think the album got a bit tedious at this point, but now I feel that I was sadly mistaken. 'Thanks a Lot' is actually a stroke of genious, and it contains one of my favourite guitar solos *ever*! 'Burning Man' is mediocre but has its merits! I love 'Good for you' for its honest and heartfelt lyrics, and 'London' is amazing with an all time brilliant riff
. On eof my favourite tracks is 'I Want You' for its eerie sounding guitar effect and the way you know Steven is smiling when he sings the chorus. A happy song what reminds you of one of those lazy summer days. Then comes probably the three most superb, yet intense tracks in history! Beginning with 'The Backgroud' which deals with a sexual assult, I reveal in its brilliance, and its sadness everytime, with lines like, 'Words they come and memories on repeat, lift your head while they change the hospital sheets...' Then comes my all-time favourite song, 'Motorcycle Driveby' which honestly can't be described without you hearing it, it just gives me the shivers. Worth the album on its own! And the final track is 'God of Wine', a song about how crap alchol is and how it'll always let you down "Every glamorous sunrise, Throws the planets out of line, A star sign out of whack, A fraudulent zodiac. And the God of Wine is crouched down in my room, You let me down, I said it.." This ablum is probably one of the best I have ever heard, all you have to do it give it a few chances and I'll promise you, it'll be a valued part of your CD collection.
Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind The big problem with the British music scene is that bands like Third Eye Blind don’t get a look in. It’s difficult enough being a talented British band and breaking the UK market with all the pop pap dominating the charts but for an American independent rock band it's nigh on impossible. It’s a great pity because Third Eye Blind are nothing short of fantastic. This, their first album, contains so many great tracks it’s difficult to know where to start. Losing A Whole Year really starts the album off as it’s destined to continue, raw but catchy, passionate but not too reckless. Semi-Charmed Life is the one track the British public may be familiar with and ironically it’s the one track on the album which seems a little out of place. It’s not a positive album in it’s view on relationships but it seems to exorcise those ghosts by the time it gets to the last few songs which mellow out. Viewers of the first series of Dawson’s Creek may remember How’s It Going To Be from the soundtrack. It’s a farewell and get lost salute to an ex-wife basically and you find it difficult to believe it may not be written from experience. I just wish everybody could hear this album to appreciate how great Third Eye Blind are.
It really annoys me that a band this good are not even getting heard in the UK, as i can honestly say this debut album from Third Eye Blind (or 3EB) is amongst the best cds in my collection. This cd goes from strength to strength, kicks off in style with the tuneful 'Losing a whole year', going through their incredibly catchy and only real UK chart sucess 'Semi Charmed Life' (believe me you know the one), has some great energeticrockers such as 'London' and 'Graduate', and shows off some really powerful, moving songs such as Motorcycle Drive By' and the album's finale, 'God of Wine'. In my opinion, this proves the band's versatility and is a sign of any great band, so I can heartily recommend this album to just about anyone.