Skip to main content

100 Albums: "Third Eye Blind" by Third Eye Blind

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Third Eye Blind
Title: Third Eye Blind
Released: 1997
Genre: post-grunge power pop


The late 90s were a weird time for rock and roll. The second wave of grunge was on the ebb, the pop renaissance was just around the corner--the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys had their first commercial hits in 1996, although bubblegum wouldn't completely dominate until Britney Spears' debut in 1999. All around there was less appetite for self-serious angsty music, and the rock acts that broke during this era embraced their fun side. Two bands in particular stand out to me, Third Eye Blind and Incubus. Both broke around the same time and constructed their sound from a lot of the same component parts, even though the end result was quite different. The both wrote up-tempo pop songs that were infused with punk and hip-hop influences. They both wrote lyrics that specifically de-glamorized the culture of partying and drug abuse that surrounded rock and roll. Of the two, Incubus was the more sophisticated, pursuing an experimental and complex sound. Third Eye Blind wrote popcorn, but it was some tasty popcorn. Third Eye Blind wasn't a huge-selling album, but it produced some very successful singles: Semi-Charmed LifeGraduate, How's It Going To Be, and Jumper, which all got heavy radio play.

I remember being completely, er... charmed... by the lead single Semi-Charmed Life. It was fast and bouncy and very high-energy, while somehow seeming to be about junkies who weren't enjoying getting high anymore, or something like that.  It was also very easy to play on the guitar, so double-bonus. I loved that they sang about sex and drugs with candor and earnest, if not nuance, but even then I didn't really get it. I owned the cassingle with the radio edit, and mostly bought the whole album because I loved that song but hated the way the radio edit garbled with phrase "crystal meth." The rest of the album followed suit: catchy, high-energy songs about subjects that sounded cool even though I didn't really understand the narrative. I mean, I understand them better now. Now that I've been through a rough break-up or two, I have a better handle on the opener Losing A Whole Year and its opening line "I remember you and me used to spend the whole goddamn day in bed." Back then I assumed they were just tired all the time--the next track was called Narcolepsy, so I guess that made sense. Or maybe it was a drug thing?

Oh, 1997 Kurt, you sweet summer child.

I listened to this album constantly. It was just under an hour long, the perfect length to put on a 60-minute blank tape and listen to in the car on repeat. Again, this is not high art, it's pop art, but it's really compelling pop art. Some of the non-radio tracks are still in my sing-a-long playlists. (How, for example, was Graduate a single but not the far superior London?) And there are little lyrical flourishes that I still enjoy. Like "The clothes she wears mis-fit" from Thanks A Lot or "I've never been so alone and I've never been so alive" from Motorcycle Drive By. The couple of down-tempo numbers like The Background and God Of Wine have drive and purpose. The only songs that haven't aged well are Good For You, which feels like such a throwback to second wave four-chord grunge, and I Want You, which is aggressively sappy, but neither of those are bad, by any stretch.

Further Listening: The follow-up Blue was pretty underwhelming, and I haven't heard any of their other albums (although apparently they have a lot of them). Alas. Sometimes, you only have one hit record in you.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith.

Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them.

I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I w…

My Recent Experience With Daily Science Fiction

Update: On March 3rd, they re-issued my story with a blanket apology to the subscribers for the error. In terms of fixing the original mistake, this feels both thorough and sincere. They have still not reached out or responded to me personally. If and when that changes, I will note it here.

Update: On March 21st, Jonathan apologized via email for the mixup. As far as I'm concerned, the matter is now settled.

If you follow Daily Science Fiction, then you probably saw this morning's email that started "Major glitches on the spaceship DSF" and you may be wondering what some of that was about. Well, this is what some of that was about.

So I recently had a story accepted by Daily Science Fiction called Marla Corbet: Living (With The Invaders). (I never got around to a formal announcement, so if you'd like to read it, you can find it here. It's a very silly thing about an ersatz Martha Stewart. And human hair. And alien poop. You'll love it.) It was accepted on …

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Ramin Djawadi
Title:Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack
Released: 2013
Genre: DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh


He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above.

While all of the soundtracks for GoT are very listenable, this is my favorite. It has A Lannist…