vivid imagery, grim.

intensity American Standard (Mammoth/ Atlantic)
Seven Mary Three .

By Kory Wilcoxson

The cover of American Standard shows a freshly decapitated chicken about to do its uncontrolled death dance around the barn yard. The grim intensity of the picture only hints at what lies inside.

Calling Seven Mary Three a power-pop band hardly does them justice. The band chisels out songs with an urgency only matched by bands such as Live. This is serious business.

That is evident in the first song, "Water's Edge," about the discovery of a bloated body left there by some true gangsters. Lead singer J. Ross captures the desperation and fear of the narrator: "Don't go down to the water's edge/I didn't do it but I saw who did/They did it once and they can do it again."

The vivid imagery and piercing lyrics are consistent throughout the album, with only a few songs failing to live up to the precedent set by the album's opening one two punch of "Water's Edge" and "Cumbersome," the band's first single. It's the closest Seven Mary Three dares come to true pop, played out in a menacing drawl and malevolent lyrics.

The energy created by the group is hardly an accident. J. Pollock's lead guitar scorches throughout the album, and bassist Casey Daniel and drummer Giti Khalsa lay down a mean foundation for songs like "My My" and "Favorite Dog." The pieces come together in ragged unison, making American Standard an enjoyably rough listen.