CD Review: Seven Mary Three’s Day And Night Driving
I’ll give this album the same kind of review I give other albums when I feel nothing for them, but I’m sure someone else with different musical tastes would. But I suppose that’s the danger of sending your band’s CD to musical publications for review – unless your record label owns the publication, you’re going to get a (gulp) fair review.
I typically lump Seven Mary Three in with bands like 3 Doors Down, Creed, Nickelback and Lifehouse, which have that denim-jacket, fauxhawk, big-belt-buckle cowboy-rock sound. Two guitars, four chords, two verses, two choruses, a bridge, a three-beat pause and a final double-chorus, decorated with a minimum of effects and occasional acoustic tinkering. Seven Mary Three is still completely honorable as a band – they put effort into getting that snare hit they want, or that combination of rhythm and lead that hits home for them. But I find their fare to be a bridge between the reckless passion of old-style rock ‘n’ roll and the sensitive, careful tone-tweaking of modern country. It’s not enough in either direction to appeal to one crowd, so it hangs in the niche, pleasing a sliver of fans and pissing off everyone else.
To do justice to Seven Mary Three: They’re better than all of the bands I mentioned in the previous paragraph, they’re still around after 14 years, and having seen them live and spoken with them, I know they don’t do it without their share of frustration (since no one seems to know anything about them except that they wrote “Cumbersome.”)
Now that I’ve demonstrated I’m not an asshole, Day & Night Driving is clichéd, boring, and except for a few glints of musical tact, completely forgettable. Sure, the band wrote some solid hooks, both guitar-wise and vocal-wise. Sure, the album’s atmosphere is strong and rustic. Sure, they throw in some creative touches, like the high slide guitar on “Upside Down,” or the Zeppelin-like drum openings of “Break the Spell” and “You Think Too Much.” The anthem riff of “Was a Ghost” sticks in your mind, and is definitely one of the album’s standout moments, along with a few choruses here and there.
The problem is, everything the band accomplishes on paper is lost in practice, because the rest of the album is cringe-inducing, half-country grunge-rock, and as soon that music style comes out of the speakers, you change the station. (I’m actually working on a filtering device that will automatically do this.) You hear the first three chords of an intro, and you know what the fourth one is before it plays. Jason Ross sings, “I’m sinking…” and you immediately know he’s going to say “…like a stone.” You hear the first, delicate tinkling of an acoustic guitar, and you can sense the lovesick ballad coming. As long as this band keeps writing the soundtrack to the romantic cowboy lifestyle, they’ll be stuck in another decade, on a jukebox in some bar in Oklahoma. This isn’t to say they don’t have any fans – it’s just to say they won’t make too many new ones.