Third Eye Blind trolls GOP convention in Cleveland

This is pretty hilarious . . .


Lifehouse: Smoke & Mirrors

RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Matchbox Twenty

When Lifehouse released their edgy debut No Name Face in 2000, their music was leaning more toward alternative and cool – because of the songs and the way they recorded them, but also because of how radio, to some degree, still drove record sales. But as bands like Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind keep aging, their music tends to organically soften. And as it does, they start to mesh on radio with artists such as, say, Edwin McCain or Huey Lewis. And while we all do age, there is something inherently disappointing in watching a band like Lifehouse start to listen too much to producers and radio programmers instead of making the cool music that they used to. Still, these guys can write hit songs in their sleep, and on Smoke & Mirrors, their fifth studio effort, Lifehouse has delivered yet another batch of ear candy that will have little girls swooning. For the rest of us, it’s a nice album, but nothing we haven’t heard before, from Lifehouse or any other bands in their alt/pop genre.

Songs like the upbeat “All In” and “Had Enough” are formulaic, but there are also some nice surprises. The first one is “Nerve Damage,” which is an edgy rocker that even has a bluesy guitar solo that is (gasp) almost 30 seconds long. Then there’s the best track of all, “From Where You Are,” a stunning acoustic ballad that shows singer Jason Wade hasn’t lost a single strand of vocal cord over the past decade. Someday Lifehouse may go back to having creative control. But even so, their music doesn’t exactly suck, and you can’t blame them for chasing a big paycheck. (Geffen 2010)

Lifehouse MySpace page


Third Eye Blind: Ursa Major

RIYL: Eve 6, Matchbox Twenty, Better than Ezra

It’s amazing to think rock band Third Eye Blind has been around since the mid-‘90s, but they have as their debut was released in 1996 and spawned not only some of their biggest hits, but some of the best songs of the decade in “Jumper” and “How is It Gonna Be?” as well as lesser known beauties like “Motorcycle Drive By.” But this was a case of setting the bar so high, that there was no place to go but down. And while Third Eye Blind is, according to press materials, one of the most sought-after college campus touring acts and also uses technology to further their career, they seem to have lost the focus on the one thing that matters – making good music. On their latest album and first release in six years, Ursa Major, Stephan Jenkins and company deliver a new batch of songs that are really somewhat dull and lifeless. It’s not that the band lacks energy, it’s that the songs make them sound like they are going through the motions. “Don’t Believe a Word” has elements that made “Semi-Charmed Life” a hit, and “Sharp Knife” has flashes of the band finding that sweet spot. But when Jenkins sings “Let’s Start a Riot” in the opener, “Can You Take Me,” it has all the impact of a cotton ball hitting the ground. And “One in Ten” and “Monotov’s Private Opera” are wussy, bland and really kind of annoying. The early stuff from Third Eye Blind was hooky and had so much raw emotion that you couldn’t help but get sucked in, but Ursa Major will suck you in and spit you out before you even finish listening. (LABEL: Mega Collider)

Third Eye Blind MySpace page


My Favorite Highway: How to Call a Bluff

Depending on how cynical you are, there are two ways you can look at My Favorite Highway: Either they’re a television music supervisor’s wet dream – and the latest withered apple to fall off the Something Corporate branch of the blink-182 family tree – or they’re every bit as earnest as they seem, and their full-length debut, How to Call a Bluff, is really just the front line in a new wave of bands whose members grew up listening to Third Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty, and Everclear. Either way, there’s no getting around the fact that lead Highwayman David Cook is a songwriter with a gift for melody and his heart strapped firmly to his sleeve, and if that just happens to be exactly what it takes to get your music played in an episode of “The Hills,” that’s no reason to write the band off as a crass, watered-down facsimile of something that wasn’t all that great in the first place, is it? Well, again, that depends on your level of cynicism – but if you can bring yourself to listen to Bluff without hearing the strong echoes of the band’s influences, though, you’ll find it a veritable buffet of sweet, fizzy pop treats, all gleaming surfaces, sticky hooks, and giant choruses. If this Highway leads to less-traveled environs, some beautiful vistas could await. (Virgin 2009)

My Favorite Highway MySpace page