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Liner Note: Spencer White / Libations

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Spencer White / Libations

I enjoy a ton of different things and have experienced a lot of cool stuff; but as an educator, I feel it is my duty to inform you as to why Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album is the best of all albums. The following is a track-by-track analysis of Third Eye Blind.

1. “Losing a Whole Year”
What an opener! A song about how lost a person can feel after spending so long with someone and knowing every little detail about them. The post-with-somebody life is always such a difficult and unsettled time. The song hints at being bittersweet but determined. They show off their calling card by having a “happy” melody accompanied by dark lyrics.

2. “Narcolepsy”
One of the great constant crescendo, big-time, super build-up songs. The intro kind of feels like waking up from an unexpected dream. Once the whole team kicks in, it’s a rocker! Kevin Cadogan is the king of alternate tunings and creative licks. This band is very underrated for their musicianship and funky time signatures too.

3. “Semi-charmed Life”
If you haven’t heard this song, you are either under twenty or someone with whom I’d rather not associate. An award-winning song about crystal meth. I mean, how often does that happen?! Answer: never.

4. “Jumper”
Stephan Jenkins has talked recently about how this song has recently been rejuvenated and given new meaning. If you’re a regular Sherlock Holmes, you’ll find that this song is about suicide. Nowadays, Third Eye Blind find it to be a song about hope. Give ‘er a listen and you’ll see why. While you’re at it, try your best to sing the “I WOULD UNDERSTAND” when the distorted guitar comes in at the end of the bridge. You won’t be able to.

5. “Graduate”
This song was written because Elektra Records told Third Eye Blind that they needed a hit. Cadogan wrote it very quickly. On a personal note, I think this is the worst song on the album and I bet it’s because of the two sentences preceding this one.

6. “How’s It Going to Be”
If you haven’t found yourself singing this one at two in the morning with all your besties, you’re missing out. Pro tip: have somebody do the harmonies

7. “Thanks A Lot”
Now we’re getting to the good ones! Yeah, so the first six songs were all mega-hits or at least pretty big. The entire rest of the album was not. Like a lot of bands, Third Eye Blind keeps all their best (or deepest anyway) songs hidden on the b-side. “Thanks A Lot” rocks hard after a meandering little noodle to start the song. Jenkins’ falsetto– which you’ll grow to hate live but tolerate in moderation– is such a wonderful addition to this song. You’ve got this brooding, moody, heavy, masculine ’90s alt-rock tune playing and he throws in a super feminine “thanks a lot” on top. Brilliant. Also don’t sleep on the bass solo.

8. “Burning Man”
This song is a grower. The funky drum beat, the shifts in dynamics, the sound of glasses clinking, the start-stop patterns…it all makes for a song that has you wanting to smoke what they’re smoking. It also features several millenial-era tattoo idea quotations, such as “Hold me down, I wanna find out”, “I live my life like a burning man”, “Life is not to fear, life is to enjoy”, and probably some other things you could fit next to a bird tattoo.

9. “Good for You”
Another monster 4/4 rocker. I think maybe they should’ve put this one on the a-side to pick up the pace on these three mid-tempo tunes. Jenkins laments letting someone go while Cadogan uses a rolodex of guitar pedals. Meanwhile the rhythm section continues to be alert. The dual vocal of the post-chorus is a fairly rare trick for this band, so we should probably all enjoy it.

10. “London”
I heard an earlier version of this song and lemme tell ya: this version is way better. My favorite bad line from this song’s earlier version was “I don’t wanna go to London, I don’t wanna wear a raincoat”. Luckily, the band figured out that this dude’s thesaurus-like vocabulary could contribute another line or two regarding England’s capital and the narrator’s not wanting to go to it. The best part of this song is how wonderfully ’90s the guitar fuzz, feedback, and “rocking out” are. It may inspire one to go ahead and throw on some Jncos and dye his hair blonde.

11. “I Want You”
Ahhh, now we are heading in to the final four tracks, which take this album from great to spectacular. “I Want You” is a somehow both acoustic and spacey. One of the oldest songs on the album, it was once–not surprisingly– a Jenkins solo track. In lieu of leaving it as a– YEAH I’LL SAY IT– boring acoustic love song, the band elevated it into a layered aural journey complete with panning vocals, guitar solos, and, perhaps most importantly, an always welcome shaker on the percussion front.

12. “The Background”
This song is a tearjerker. It mirrors my own experiences with my mother’s death. It somehow describes the inexplicable emotions that everyone feels at sometime in their life. It screams guilt and sadness, lingering thoughts, and should-have-beens. I appreciate the vagueries mentioned in the song as they help to make it more universal, more relatable to other people in pain. It does all this in open-D tuning with one of the most whispering, spectral, hopeful outros you’ll hear.

13. “Motorcycle Drive By”
This should be every 20-something’s anthem. It puts to music how it feels to be better off on your own. You could be 27 and recently dumped in a city you’ve never been to, or just as easily 22 and finally done with college and purging money on a wasted education. This song, despite its soft, almost whispered intro, is best listened to with the windows down and in excess of the local speed limit. As the song entails, you too will feel so alive during it. A good rule of thumb for Third Eye Blind songs is that if a song starts with Jenkins finger-picking a guitar, it’s probably gonna be a banger. This song is the rule, not the exception.

14. “God of Wine”
Third Eye Blind themselves have referred to this song as a song that should be played when the bar closes and you’re headed home to your shitty, drafty apartment where you’ll inevitably try to sleep but your thoughts won’t let you. Well, they said some of that, anyway. This tune would make Bacchus himself proud. While I don’t feel as if this band is an ensemble to which one ought to drink wine, this song starts with a “one last glass before I take off” and eventually kicks into “I spilled this Bordeaux down my shirt but I don’t care because this is what living feels like” and eventually “I know I’ll wake up tomorrow and have to get this fucking wine stain out of shirt and my best friend’s floor, but life is worth living and that’s all that matters.” While the song’s chorus ends in doubt “I know I can’t keep it all together”, there is resolution in the final lyrics, even if they don’t favor the protagonist: “And there’s someone who understands you more than I do/ A silence I can’t erase, all alone on your face”. Regardless of the disappointing outcome for the singer/protagonist, there is hope in the music.

Favorite Record Store

Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis. This place consistently has everything and I don’t feel as if I was judged for buying a Chris Stapleton album next to the new Descendents album.

Favorite Concert Venue

Replay Lounge. The music is loud and they don’t mic much–thereby forcing artists to turn up– and they treat bands really well.

Spencer White / Libations
Kansas City, Mo. 

Libations is a band from Kansas City, MO that actually sounds nothing like Third Eye Blind. Libations will be playing their first show Jan. 18 at the RINO in North Kansas City.