Orange Avenue's a Bit Sour

Seven Mary Three - Orange Ave.
(Atlantic Records)
2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

"How could you be so in-between?", sings Jason Ross, guitarist and vocalist for the Florida-based band Seven Mary Three, on their fourth and latest album, Orange Ave. That same question, however, could also be asked of this band who musically sit on a fence somewhere between middle-of-the-road AM radio fodder and edgy, alternative rock.
Unfortunately on Orange Ave. they fall more on the prior milquetoast side than that of the latter. With forgettable melodies ('Chasing You" and "Flagship Eleanor"), sappy predictability ("Over Your Shoulder") and syrupy, self-righteousness (on the heavy-handed "Each Little Mystery") this band seems to miss the point if their trying to reach the alternate nation.
Occasionally, however, they do rise above the mediocrity. On the opening number "Peel" they burst out with the spirited angst of Nirvana, while sprinklings of REM can be heard on the sprightly, "In-Between". And on the auspicious "Hang On", the band, which includes Ross, Jason Pollock (lead guitar and vocals), Casey Daniel (bass) and Giti Khalsa (drums), serves up a saucy punk treat. It's a shame, though, the rest of the album doesn't match the enthusiasm of these tunes.
The album was named after the strip of music clubs on Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida, and as Ross explains, "Orange Avenue is a rite-of-passage. It's a place where every band in the state has had to pay their dues and get their cards punched. You don't have any credibility until you've cracked Orange Avenue... or until Orange Avenue has cracked you. Name a Florida band and they've earned their stripes there; Creed, Matchbox 20, Sister Hazel, Less Than Jake, My Friend Steve, Marilyn Manson, Mighty Joe Plum and others. If you want to know what will be coming from the Southeast in the next few years, all you have to do is walk down Orange Avenue."
Seven Mary Three may be trying to recreate the feelings and sounds of walking down that famed street on Orange Ave., but if that's the case I'm glad I'm only an hour-and-a-half from Chicago's club scene.

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