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3RDegree - The Long Division CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.02 | 229 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This should have been my CD of the year for 2012.

There, I've said it, I've circumvented my typical writing process and eschewed the big reveal at the end, this CD is fantastic. While it still made my top ten based on Spotify listens, I wasn't able to take it with me in the car until I received the CD last week. Since then, I've been listening to it non- stop 'so that I could do an accurate review'. In truth, I'd probably listened to it enough times to have taken the CD out a few days ago, I just didn't want to. I guess I've been listening to it for too long when my five year old daughter wanders around the house singing songs from it.

The Long Division is the second release from the New Jersey based 3rdegree of this century; they had two releases in the nineties then split up for ten years prior to their 2008 release, Narrow- Caster. Narrow-Caster was a combination of tracks written in both the nineties edition of the band and the current one. The Long Division is a batch of entirely new songs written specifically for this album which gives it a cohesiveness that wasn't as prevalent on the last one. I loved Narrow- Caster; this is a huge leap forward.

Listener be warned, this is a political CD, though the beauty of it is that it is equally condemning towards both sides of the current American debate. The message of the first single, "You're Fooling Yourselves" is summed up nicely in the third verse, "You're fooling yourselves, if you can't look across the aisle and see humanity." There is a growing, centrist group of Americans that are tired of the lack of compromise between the two current political parties and the sensationalist polarization spouted by the media. "You're Fooling Yourselves" is the anthem for this group of people.

Now, with that being said, to truly appreciate 3rdegree, try to imagine Jamiroquai singing for a low key prog band. Lead singer George Dobbs has one of the most unique voices in the modern prog scene in the he sounds more like a displaced soul crooner rather than the typical prog metal screamer or symphonic dramatist. [INSIDE JOKE] The good news is that, 'It Works' really well for them. [/INSIDE JOKE]. This is a slow rocker with great chops though nothing flashy enough to take away from the lyrics which are really the focus of the song. Verse one could have been taken directly from a more liberal newscast painting the picture of a radical conservative right, obviously satirizing it. After a catchy chorus verse two gives us the conservative anger at the liberal left.

The chant over the final verse really sums up the position, just in case you missed it. "Everybody needs a constitution, everybody needs to leave their party, everybody needs to think for themselves. . . " This should be required listening and frankly, I've started posting the video every time one of my Facebook threads is hijacked into another liberal versus conservative debate. But enough about that. . .

"Exit Strategy" is one of the rolling songs on the album with occasional Gentle Giant moments, it has an easy, feel to it feel to it as we listen to Dobbs and company espouse on the second target of the album, corporate greed. (in case you're keeping score, the first were the politicians in "You're Fooling Yourselves". Don't miss Dobbs wonderfully, Tomas Bodin-esque solo in this one.

"The Socio-economic Petri Dish" gets the award for best song name of the album. It starts with a two minute intro of chaos that can best be described as Abacab era Tony Banks jamming with Discipline era Robert Fripp with bassist Robert James Pashman and Aaron Nobel holding down the timing by alternating rhythmic bits with precisely timed hits. After the intro we get into one of the funkiest moments on the CD. I'm not talking bad smelling funk, I'm talking George Clinton funk.

"Incoherent Ramblings" points the finger of anger directly at the media. Truthfully, if you dive deeply into the lyrics of the entire album, the media gets the brunt of the ire, even in the songs that focus on politics or corporations; there is a strong feeling that the issues are only exasperated by the current style of news reporting.

Ok, background story, in 2001 two things very important things happened, the internet was draining revenue from traditional news sources and the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centers produced a huge but temporary jump in revenue for those very same news sources. Since that time, the American news media has experimented and eventually come to the realization that sensationalism makes them money. "Incoherent Ramblings" satirizes the progression of that trend, as the protagonist describes his day of riling up the masses.

On a musical note, this is another fantastic song giving guitarist Eric Pseja a moment to shine. The song has a rolling easy feel to most of it, my only complaint is what I refer to as the 'march sections'. Every time we hear the catch phrases of the newscaster, the song stops and Aaron Noble lays down a deliberate march under the clichés. From a musical standpoint, the march sections kill the flow of the song. Here's the thing, it's an ironic bit illustrating the newscaster sharing his marching orders. I'm pretty certain that the disruption of flow is deliberate to get the listener to pay attention to the lyrics, the catch phrases. While I don't like the break from a musical stand point, I get what they're trying to do here, and admittedly, it does work. One other note before I go on, the harmonies are sick in the song, the chorus is superb.

"The Ones To Follow" is probably my favorite song on the CD. There are some great harmonies throughout the album, but the ones on this song are absolutely beautiful and stunning. It's a happy little pop song . . . in five. It has a nice acoustic feel to it during the verses followed by a beautiful mélange of tuned bells and guitar in a combined melody that gives me goose bumps just from writing about it. Don't overlook this three minute gem.

"Televised" is another soulful song, the emotion drips through the piano and harpsichord intro, there is a sadness to this song that comes through beautifully as we hear of another life ruined by the media, almost another homage to Bud Dwyer (look it up kids).

"The Millions of Last Moments" is a beautiful instrumental giving guitarist Pat Kliesch a chance to shine, and shine he does. Every time it came on in the car, both my wife and five year old remained quiet to listen to it. I truly can't think of a higher compliment, absolutely beautiful. "Memetic Pandemic" is another rolling song in six, keep an ear out for the Genesis moments in here.

So yeah, we're at the end of the review here, every song on this CD is great if not fantastic, even the two that I didn't highlight specifically have some great moments (I'll leave them as a surprise for you). As I mentioned early on, this is a five star CD that I really haven't wanted to stop listening to. Highly recommended!

Roland113 | 5/5 |


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