3rd Degree: Radio 7

Jason Thompson

3rd Degree

Radio 7

Label: self-released
US Release Date: 2001-07-07

"What you will NOT see is a crappy self made CD recorded on a friend's MY-FIRST-4-TRACK." This is but one of many bold suggestions sprinkled throughout 3rd Degree's bio information on their snazzy website. These guys want you to know they're all about high quality pop. I want you to know they're another bland, emotionless vehicle that has the potential to sell like hotcakes. Well, at least they look good. And as we all know, looking good is about 20% more important than actually sounding good anymore.

It's easy to pass these guys over. There's nothing here that wouldn't sound good on the radio, and nothing here that you need to hear outside of your car stereo. Radio 7 is nice background noise that no one will bitch about until they really start listening to it. From the opening, harmony-laden "Leave Yourself Behind" complete with gritty guitar to make sure this band stays in the legit frame of mind to the closing "Anyway I" that really makes you want to believe these guys can kick it into rock overdrive, 3rd Degree is essentially a sad mass of typically unobtrusive pop that sells a lot of Tommy Hilfiger shirts.

Their saccharine overtones remind me a lot of the annoying glop that the Goo Goo Dolls put out. The music that 3rd degree issues forth on Radio 7 makes such bland alt-rockers like the Gin Blossoms seem positively exhilarating. The grandiose "Worlds Collide" will no doubt touch the self-proclaimed sensible shoppers out there and make one hell of a soft focused video. The guitars riff and soar, but they're musically flatulent. The rhythm section featuring Adam Blake on drums is rudimentary at best, offering up elemtary beats and expected fills. Get excited. Please.

"Needless to say the album rocks" goes another bio statement. Does it really? Well if that's the case, why am I still standing here, ready to to listen to something else? Radio 7 features producer Jim Ebert, who's worked with other VH1 heavyweights like Meredith Brooks and the roundly dissed Marvelous 3 (I'm sure you've forgotten Hey Album! as much as I have by now). Supposedly 3rd Degree echoes everyone from the Beatles to Bowie and T. Rex? What? OK, everyone likes to throw in the Beatles as a touch point anymore, but there's no glam going on here. Not in the creaky "Maid of Honor", not in the sleepwalked-rock of "Don't Walk Away", and certainly not in the big tearjerker "Alone" that even sports a phony Brit accent. I'm telling you right now that those fake accents are becoming a huge pet peeve for me anymore. Stop trying to be ELO, boys. Jeff Lynne would be ashamed.

But as I said, Radio 7's the kind of album that will sell a lot just because the pop presented here is as enjoyable as vanilla ice cream. Everyone likes it generally, but deep down most people enjoy a more exciting flavor to sink their taste buds into. 3rd Degree are harmless. If you backed them into a corner, they'd retaliate with their fresh faces and plastic harmonies. You'd back away. Perhaps not in enjoyment, but just because you'd realize that there are so many other bands worth fighting for. But given the fact that his album was released a couple months ago and I'm only now hearing of them, could I presume that 3rd degree has gotten the third degree? OK, I'll stop while I'm ahead.




By the Book

Jack Halberstam's 'Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire' (excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt of Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire, wherein Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the 20th century.

Jack Halberstam

Sotto Voce's 'Your Husband, the Governor' Is Beautifully Twisted DIY Indie Folk-rock

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Gabos releases another odd, gorgeous home studio recording under the moniker Sotto Voce.


Numün's 'voyage au soleil' Is a Trippy, Ambient Ride and Ambitious Debut

Eclectic instrumental trio numün combine a wealth of influences to create a vibe that's both spacey and earthy on voyage au soleil.


L7's 'Smell the Magic' Is 30 and Packs a Feminist Punch

Abortion is under threat again, and there's a sex offender in the Oval Office. A fitting time, in short, to crank up the righteously angry vocals of feminist hard rock heavy hitters like L7.


Can Queer Studies Rescue American Universities?

Matt Brim's Poor Queer Studies underscores the impact of poorer disciplines and institutions, which often do more to translate and apply transformative intellectual ideas in the world than do their ivory-tower counterparts.


Jim White Offers a "Smart Ass Reply" (premiere)

Jesus and Alice Cooper are tighter than you think, but a young Jim White was taught to treat them as polar opposites. Then an eight-track saved his soul and maybe his life.


Ed Harcourt Paints From 'Monochrome to Colour'

British musician Ed Harcourt's instrumental music is full of turbulent swells and swirls that somehow maintain a dignified beauty on Monochrome to Colour.


West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.