Ether (State of Grace)
By: Alex Steininger
"This can't be our secret" asserts Jon Campbell, front man for the Portland, Oregon post-hardcore trio Thirty3, in "Talent Club", the opening song from Ether, Thirty3's debut full-length.
Campbell's optimism and honesty fill the album's fourteen tracks, and after one listen to Ether, you too will agree that Thirty3 can't just be Portland's secret anymore.
The songs are too powerful, too vibrant, and too blue-collar to ignore. Filled with the blood, sweat, and tears of musicians who live and breath their music, Thirty3's debut is chalk full of noisy guitars, screaming vocals, and a thunderous rhythm section, all brought to life by Campbell's heartfelt, oft-painful, though optimistic lyricism, which propels the band to deliver a stunning collection of ear-shattering, ruckus-laden, fierce rock.
The true magnetism of Thirty3 is their ability to play loud, balls-to-the-wall rock music, without forgetting to wrap everything around a good, if not punch melody, allowing the songs to pierce your heart that much more.
Rare is a band that can scream and blast their fury and frustration through in-your-face numbers and not abandon the melody, and on Ether, Thirty3 succeed, making it sound effortless and natural.
"Laughing Is a Sign of Nervousness" demonstrates this philosophy almost too well. Vocals coming at you in every direction, refusing to pull punches, and putting everything they can muster into every word, before the chorus hits, a scream-along anthem soaked in melody and jumpstarted by a shaggy hook, before tangling itself back up in roaring guitars and crashing drums.
Thirty3 also has their playful side. Their music is energetic and muscled up. Their lyrics are derived from angst, personal experience, and discontent. However, their song titles, such as "Pirates Sleep with Cowboys, and Cowboys Eat Their Young" and "Bike Punks Wear Black to Beach Parties", point at a good sense of humor.
The latter is a full-throttle blast of melodic hardcore, lasting a short minute and a half, but making an everlasting presence in that short time. Chugging guitars and gut-wrenching vocals, Thirty3 captures adolescence frustration in a capsule easy enough to swallow; but, like everything else on the album, they also make a very political point, attacking punk rockers and indie kids who talk big about building a community, but only care about the upkeep and coolness of their own little scene, rejecting all that are different, while preaching unity.
I'll keep it simple no misleading you, with any of my words. You can have it all back. Keep your scene. I'd rather be a part of a community. I thought this meant so much more than a slogan on the backs of our shirt. You tell me I'm a fool for something that I love. I just want to see my friends succeed. We'll I don't want it anymore I'll give it back. At least I can walk away with a smile on my face. At least my conscious will let me make a clean break. Did I hear you say 'back in the day', but now things have changed and so have we? Music is money. Before it goes too far lets take the music and run. After all this time I hope you're not here just waiting for the breakdown.
With those words from "Bike Punks Wear Black to Beach Parties", Thirty3 show their integrity, something Ether is ripe with.
After listening to Ether, I don't know if I want to fight or fuck. Or meld both into some rough sex? These fourteen songs will get your blood pumping, your fists shaking, and your mind racing. Songs you can jump around, dance, or scream along with, Ether is both physically and mentally engaging. A mark of a soon-to-be-classic record; hopefully, Thirty3 won't be anyone's secret much longer. I'll give it an A.