Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seven Mary Three - American Standard

Album: American Standard
Artist: Seven Mary Three
Release: September 5, 1995

Ah yes, and now we're back to one of the great albums of my formative years.  I was first exposed to Seven Mary Three at the Kentucky State Fair in the summer of 1996 (awesome shit happens there) when we heard a cover band playing "Water's Edge".  I went out and bought American Standard - on cassette - very soon after that.  I went off to college almost immediately after I bought this record and it was pretty much all I listened to that semester.  It was just grungy and gritty and perfect for me at that time.  In fact, even listening to it now (as I am this very moment) it's a pretty awesome album.   And how can I not love a band that uses words like "cumbersome", "condescend", "awkwardness" and "mulatto"??

I'm sure that Seven Mary Three was not the greatest band to emerge in the '90's, but all that really matters to me about this record is how it makes me feel.  It's so nostalgic, it just takes me right back to that summer, that visit to the state fair with my best friend (and the resulting court date) and especially that semester at school.  Singing these songs in the car kept me awake during many long drives back home to visit my boyfriend, they accompanied me while I studied and provided background music while my new friends and I drove around our new town and discovered life.

Surely everyone has heard "Water's Edge" by now - radio stations wore it out in the mid to late nineties.  It's a good song, but you would be remiss to assume that is the best they have to offer.  As is so often the case, the radio hits are not the best songs on this album.  The forceful "My My" about a complicated woman and the way she complicates his life is a more powerful, more interesting song.  Another really good tune on this one is the guitar-laden "Headstrong".  I love the way it gears up in the middle then quiets down and still finishes heavy like any self-respecting rock song should.  I'm also a fan of how the guitar is pushed to the front of the mix but not so much so that it covers the vocals. 

My favorite song (and the one I think should have been the lead single) is "Anything".  Clear, heartfelt lyrics, a story, a drum that asks you to please just close your eyes and go along with it.  In my opinion, there isn't a single thing not to love about this song, it's one of my favorite picks to sing in the shower - love it.  There are some quirky songs too, like "Margaret" with the line "20,000 days younger than me" - really?  She's 54 years younger than you??  What the heck, perv.  And "Punch In, Punch Out" which I've never really been able to make sense of, but that doesn't stop me from singing it at the top of my lungs.  But just because some of them are a little odd and maybe wouldn't have made it very far on the radio does not make them any less entertaining.
I'm sure that some of my fondness for this record comes from the fact that I was so young when I first heard it and that I've been listening to it for the last 15 years.  It has wound its way into my brain and just become part of what comes to mind when I think about that era in music.  Still, I would easily recommend American Standard to anyone who is a fan of the '90's rock sound.  If guitars, heavy drums and broken white boys are your cup of tea, there is no way you won't love this.

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