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CD Review
Thrice- If We Could Only See Us Now (CD/DVD)
by Arya Chowdhury
Staff Writer

  Anybody who knows me probably realizes that I really like this band, so let that be my disclaimer for this review. In case you don't know, Thrice is a rock band from California that have been called everything from pop-punk to melodic hardcore (OK, perhaps the two aren't extremely dissimilar). While you could say that the music has the energy of punk and hardcore, it really has evolved over the years into its own entity, and this release documents this evolution quite well.

  The package contains a DVD which has live performances, the story of the band as told by the members as well as friends, videos of their released singles (the video for "Deadbolt" is a huge reason I got into this band), and, well, the consequence of leaving bored band members (particularly drummer Riley Breckenridge) with a camcorder. Even if you are not a fan of this band, you instantly grow to like these guys, as it shows high school battle of the band footage when they played pop-punk songs like statues frozen in trying to remember how to piece together the various parts in front of their classmates. It is also interesting to note that while many bands form to rule the world and make it submit to their personal brand of rock, Thrice was formed without much fanfare with only playing a couple local shows as their goal. Eddie Breckenridge (bassist and brother to Riley) joined the band without ever playing bass before and only listening to pop-punk bands. Lead guitarist/keyboardist Teppei Teranishi joined the band with limited experience playing guitar with a pick, having studied classical piano and guitar. The funny thing is that while the band members are self-deprecating in terms of their beginnings, their later releases are quantum leaps in terms of musicianship, with Teppei doing amazing runs via his plectrum and Eddie anchoring many cool parts on their latest studio release "The Artist in the Ambulance".

  The band is also not afraid to show more sides of themselves as people and musicians. With each release, they explore decidedly non-mainstream elements such as odd-meters, complex guitar interplay, and lyrics that delve into the positive and negative sides of the world. The accompanying CD in the package includes B sides and alternate versions of released songs which demonstrates how tireless they are at incorporating new sounds and influences. For instance, the fast punk ditty "So Strange I Remember You" from the album "The Illusion of Safety" is given a more somber, atmospheric treatment, incorporating the use of Teppei's organwork and a slower speed that allows singer/guitarist Dustin Kensrue's voice to literally breathe new vitality into lyrics such as:

"And they taste like dead cathedrals
that are crumbling beneath a weight of ten thousand jaded tourists
who've traded in their hearts and hands for
disposable cameras, set to document to decay,
set to capture just enough of life to catalogue the things we throw away."

  Additionally, I found myself loving some of the outtakes of album sessions better than some cuts that made it to the albums. For instance, "Eclipse" kicks off the whole CD heavy and intense. With lines like "Eclipse his body with stones, and lay him down with the rest. I smile when I am alone and shed a tear for the press", it's right at home with "The Artist in the Ambulance" songs that portray a morally flawed human perspective in clear, concise terms. There is a cover of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" which some purists might call blasphemy, but while I can understand their arguments, I really like it as a work unto itself, disassociated from its previous incarnation. The band itself has issued a pre-emptive strike, saying that this was before they realized that some groups, such as the Beatles, should not be covered.

  All in all, this set would serve as the perfect introduction for someone looking to know exactly who Thrice is. Their story is filled with old footage that gives a real sense of how young they are as musicians and how unlimited their potential is. There is a huge buzz over their forthcoming album "Vheissu", which is said to explore even more uncharted ground for the band such incorporating electronic music, more keyboard work, and more of their influences manifest in the songs themselves (the group loves everyone from the Roots to Medeski Martin and Wood to Refused to Mars Volta). In the meantime, if you would like to find out how these guys got to where they are so quickly while keeping a grounded perspective, I highly recommend this set to you.
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