The Long Division


Independent release, 2012

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Writing the lyrics for 3rDegree’s latest disc – their first since 2008 – must have consisted of copying a half hour transcript of MSNBC, a half hour of Fox News, and then adding a dose of cautious optimism. Surveying the vast divide between Washington and normal Americans, between the left and the right, between the 99% and the billionaire CEOs who complain about high taxes although half of their money is in the Cayman Islands, the men of 3rDegree have something to say about our current political climate.

Progressive rock has rarely been political, one of the traits that draws in fans, who see a 20 minute multi-part suite as an escape, a world away from the rather depressing one we live in. The Long Division features several seven minute songs with twists and tricky time signatures; coupled with the biting lyrics, it’s music that forces you to pay attention. 3rDegree draws on the symphonic rock of the late ‘60s, most notably the Moody Blues and a bit of The Beatles with hints of early Genesis and Yes, but the influences are woven together into a unique, intricate sound.

“The Socio-Economic Petri Dish” starts with a long keyboard introduction that is the most retro thing here before segueing into a standard prog-rock song, featuring the buzzwords we are all sick of: trickle-down, handout, housing bubble, white collar, and the line “Not gonna hold my breath / Unless they raise the price of oxygen.” A pretty cool guitar solo trades lines with the bubbling synth and a tricky drum beat during the bridge, lending the song a bit of funk not normally associated with this type of music.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Lyrically, the best song is “Incoherent Ramblings,” a swipe at Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and other angry “talented lingual whores” who do more to perpetuate hate and division than anyone currently in the White House. “The pay is good when I deliver the dazzle,” sings George Dobbs, “and assuming these ratings hold, I’ve got a job that always pays.” Anyone who has listened to these shows knows how the hosts continue spouting certain phrases to entice stupid listeners to agree with them (“too big to fail,” “market-based solutions,” “take our country back,” “everyday Americans,” “this defining moment”), and Dobbs nails their personalities perfectly.

“You’re Fooling Yourselves” starts things off by pulling no punches, referring to “gun-toting, flag-waving Bible belt simpletons quoting your founding fathers” and “tree-hugging, America-bashing urban elitists…starting class wars” before calling out politicians who “demonize, patronize, polarize with every word…Are you willing to risk leading us all off the cliff?” Prophetic words, given the “fiscal cliff” situation that plagued us in December 2012. Yet Dobbs isn’t all about attacking; in the same song, he urges “everybody needs to leave their party, everybody needs to think for themselves.”

“Televised” is another highlight, a piano-led introduction giving way to a heavy electric song decrying reality TV trash. The song flirts with cheesy hair metal at times but retains enough left turns to make it interesting. “The Millions Of Last Moments” is a short, pretty acoustic ballad; it makes up for “The Ones To Follow” and “A Work O f Art,” which are just filler tunes between the longer, angrier pieces.

The disc ends on a rather dull note with “A Nihilist’s Love Song,” which comes off as a little smarmy, and the overlong “Memetic Pandemic,” which offers little reward for the time invested. But even those songs require multiple listens to catch everything going on, as 3rDegree has no qualms about piling on keyboards, saxophones, backing vocals and even a flute.

The Long Division has a lot to say, and much of the time it is worth hearing, which is more than can be said for anything on Fox or MSNBC. 3rDegree deserves commendation for marrying potent, relevant, topical lyrics to complex yet accessible rock music, managing to express in multiple ways the frustration and hope that many Americans feel about where their country is headed.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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