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Music Review: Eve 6 and The Marvelous 3

By Daniel J. Katz

Although by now everyone in the music industry and his brother has declared guitar rock dead, the guitar pop movement, led by multi-platinum giants like Third Eye Blind and Matchbox 20, is thriving. On Wednesday, February 24, two of the better bands of the genre converge at the Paradise for an evening of power-chordy goodness.

Headliner Eve 6 has already found mainstream success, and a quick listen to their debut album (Eve 6, RCA) makes it clear why. The first five songs are easily catchy enough to be hits, including Inside Out, which was one of the top modern rock airplay songs of 1998, and Leech, which is currently climbing the radio charts.

The album doesn't stray too far from the tried and true power pop formula (loud catchy choruses, two-part harmonies, cheesy metaphoric lyrics about relationships), mixing Green Day-esque mock punk tunes (How Much Longer?, Open Road Song) with more traditional alternative rock like Showerhead and Superhero Girl. The clearest deviations are the hauntingly hushed Jesus Nitelite and the somewhat misconceived next-to-last track There's A Face, which seems tries to incorporate a more shuffling groove. It doesn't work.

It's worth playing through until the end, though, because the highlight of the album is its last song, Small Town Trap which builds from a soft funky guitar line before launching into a powerful chorus in which the vocals scream out for escape ("Small town trap with dreams of breaking out / here I sit and beg, my face is breaking out").

The Marvelous 3, who will open the show, are another power pop trio beginning to get heavy airplay for their insanely infectious single, Freak of The Week. The rest of the just-released album (Hey! Album, Hi Fi/Electra) combines some catchy riffs with British sounding vocals (although the band is from Atlanta), and some new wave-ish guitar and keyboard work. (Listening to the synthesizer vamp in the chorus of "#27," you can't help but think it must have been recorded in 1985.)

A number of songs on the album could easily follow the success of Freak. Write It On Your Hand is an obvious contender, as is the opening track, You're So Yesterday, which is a perfect example of what sets the Marvelous 3 apart from Eve 6; even when they sing bitter lyrics to an ex-girlfriend ("So keep reading your books on how to give dirty looks"), they still keep the mood of the music upbeat. While the vocalists for Eve 6 wallow in melodramatic despair on some songs, the Marvelous 3 keep their songs happy, catchy, and enjoyable, values pop music used to be all about.

Hey! Album goes in other directions that Eve 6 doesn't. Until You See and Let Me Go are slow, soaring ballads, a pop standard virtually ignored by Eve 6. The cascading guitar part in Every Monday, one of the album's best tracks, melts over you, leading up to an aggressive moment on the guitar before it starts all over again. And at the end of the last song there's some amusing evidence that Butch Walker, the band's lead singer, has a potential career as a beat poet.

Eve 6 has mastered the technique of manufacturing the hit song. The Marvelous 3 are still playing around with the format, and while they're not quite as streamlined, they show a lot more depth. Together, their concert may not require you to think very hard, but you'll be humming for hours after you leave.