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3rDegree - 2012 - "The Long Division"

(53:39, ‘3rDegree’)


1.  You're Fooling Yourselves 6:53
2.  Exit Strategy 5:46
3.  The Socio-Economic Petri Dish 6:51
4.  Incoherent Ramblings 7:46
5.  The Ones to Follow 3:15
6.  A Work of Art 2:53
7.  Televised 6:54
8.  The Millions of Last Moments 2:07
9.  Memetic Pandemic 7:29
10. A Nihilist's Love Song 3:39


Robert James Pashman – bass; keyboards; vocals
George Dobbs – vocals; keyboards
Patrick Kliesch – guitar; vocals
Eric Pseja – guitar; vocals
Aaron Nobel – drums 

Prolusion. The US band 3RDEGREE was formed back in 1990, and was an active live unit with one cassette and one CD release to their name prior to folding towards the end of the decade. Quite a few years later the band decided to give music another shot, which in 2008 lead to the release of their comeback album "Narrow-Caster". "The Long Division" is their second full length production in this second phase of the band's existence, and was self released in 2012.

Analysis. Progressive rock is a strange universe to explore at times. The diversity of music described as such is in itself so widespread in terms of different expressions and stylistic twists that you won't ever become an expert in all its flavours and variations. Another aspect of this type of music is that the artists active in it are by and large album artists. The emphasis tends to be on whole album experiences, with concept and theme albums relatively common while the marketing of specific songs released as singles to sell the album tends to be a more rare encounter. In this particular case we're dealing with a band that in the old days would have been heavily marketed with the latter approach, with one track in particular given a high degree attention, most likely in a shorter, edited version. The composition in question is the rather stunning opening piece You're Fooling Yourselves. A creation that does sound like the perfect companion piece to Mott the Hoople's hit All the Young Dudes (written by David Bowie), as some of the themes of the former remind distinctly of the latter. And with a killer chorus that sticks in the head like glue we're dealing with a song here that has all the potential to be a massive hit. If it will ever become one comes down to good old fashioned luck I guess, as well as marketing decisions. But 20 plus years ago this is a song that would have graced a number of top 10 lists almost by default I suspect. The description of this single song probably reveals quite a bit about this album as a whole too I guess. It's a production with plenty of references to art rock as well as classic rock of the 1970's, sporting distinct melodies, the occasional intricate movement and quirky compositional structure yet always maintaining a focus on harmonies and melodies. Lead vocal and vocal harmonies both should be familiar to fans of bands like The Beatles and Radiohead alike, although the lead vocalist also pulls of the raspier, intense vocal delivery one would typically find in a blues band or in some of the more emotional providers of soul music. A band whose total style merits comparisons towards bands like Ambrosia I guess, flirting just as much with radio friendly rock as with art rock. Pleasant, likeable music that should find favor with a broad audience also well outside of progressive rock circles, should they ever encounter this band that is. As with so many other fine bands these days it's getting the opportunities to present themselves to their potential audience that will make or limit the success of this band. But they have all the ingredients to make a strong impact at hand here: a solid album, a song that ooze hit potential from the opening notes to the very end, and songs that fulfil the progressive rock fans fascination for things named Mellotron and harpsichord just as much as the generic rock fans need for careful melodies and vocal harmonies, all wrapped up in a fairly sophisticated package, quirky but not to the point of limiting accessibility. On some level this act reminds me ever so slightly of the US band Man On Fire actually, with the major difference being that 3rDegree looks back to the 1970's for inspiration to a much greater extent.

Conclusion. "The Long Division" is a solid production by 3rDegree, filled to the brim with accessible yet refined compositions with half a foot or so placed within classic rock, another half in art rock and with a foot inside the challenging chaotic whirlwind one might refer to as music with a chart hit potential. First and foremost due to their killer opening track "You're Fooling Yourselves", a creation that in a just world would at minimum become a minor hit worldwide. The album itself should have a widespread appeal amongst fans of melodic rock in general, with progressive rock fans fond of classic 70's rock as a possible core audience.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 8, 2013
The Rating Room

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