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SEVEN MARY THREE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Chum (5 Spot) 1994
American Standard (Mammoth/Atlantic) 1995
RockCrown (Mammoth/Atlantic) 1997
Orange Ave. (Mammoth/Atlantic) 1998
The Economy of Sound (Mammoth) 2001

A derivative imitation of an unoriginal group, Seven Mary Three further dilutes the tincture of generic alternative angst on its major-label debut, American Standard. Formed at college in Virginia but primarily based in Orlando, Florida, the quartet redoes the effective Live gimmick of mixing Pearl Jam's gutbusting ultra-passion with the tremulous folky roots literacy of early R.E.M. Behind Jason Ross, a Tom Waitsy bellower with serious Eddie Vedder pretensions, guitarist Jason Pollock shifts easily from roaring aggression to sensitive balladry; the muscular rhythm section of Casey Daniel (bass) and Giti Khalsa (drums) follows suit. The songs on American Standard (all but two remade from the self-released Churn CD) deal with relationships ("Cumbersome"), religion ("Devil Boy," the record's only memorable number), guilt ("Lame") and the rest of it ("Water's Edge," "Favorite Dog") with overly dramatic bombast, blowing every incidental adolescent emotion into a monumental cataclysm of overpowering desperation. For those caught in the time of life when too much is never enough, a flaming cocktail of this steroid awfulness is probably the perfect elixir, but that pretty much rules out American Standard for everyone else.

[Ira Robbins]