Review: 3rd Alley – Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Review: 3rd Alley – Shoulda Woulda Coulda

3rd Alley – Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
Track Listing:
1. Antidote
2. Jah Fakin’ Deejays
3. Space Cadet
4. Sasquatch
5. Bloodshot Eyes
6. Humpty Drunky
7. Green To Red
8. Medicated
9. Drink It Up
10. Mo Hop Than Hip
11.Doors Are Now Closing

The Pier Album Rating:

Record Label: Long Beach Records
Release Date: July 26th, 2011
Purchase Album: Available on iTunes

Group Background:
Long Beach’s very own, 3rd Alley, formed when Zack Walters sent a four-track demo to Long Beach Records as a solo artist in 2004. Shortly after the disc found its way to the desk of Greg “Mudd” Lowther (co owner of Long Beach Records), Walters, “Mudd” , and fellow-listener/musician Tyson Parrish could be caught performing at numerous sold out shows supporting Long Beach Shortbus (A one time group that was a collaboration of members from Sublime and the Long Beach Dub Allstars.)

The group has evolved since then with Zack Walters gluing it all together since their debut; neither Greg Lowther nor Tyson Parrish is an active member of 3rd Alley. They are now a five-piece set with former Sublime saxophonist Todd Forman, Si Short formerly of British reggae punk band Captain Bud, Matt Brein of the Mike Pinto Band on bass, and Jack Hale on drums.

Shoulda, Woulda ,Coulda is the So Cal rockers 3rd full-length album. There are guest appearances by Andre Davis of Tomorrows Bad Seeds, KnowledgeBorn 07, and Josh Fischel of Bargain Music who has just recently announced a reunion. Walters informed The Pier Magazine about his songwriting in their album Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda,. He said “My mission was to make the most shallow, fun, party inspiring group of songs possible.”

Album Review:
This is 3rd Alley’s first release since their sophomore album which was dropped nearly 3 years ago. They’ve been around for 7 years and much of the song-writing and production is carried forth by the talented front-man Zack Walters. From his history within the scene, self-motivated lifestyle, and the overall togetherness of this album, it is evident that Walters has a great deal of talent as a musician and producer. The eleven tracks are all well-trimmed and timely, even the monster of a medley titled Doors Are Now Closing, which clocks in at a whopping seventeen minutes and ten seconds.

3rd Alley’s Cali-reggae is not too complex, but is somewhat deviant in structure from song to song. You will hear a majority of songs featuring reggae or ska’s skanking rhythm, but there are a few outliers such as Mo Hop Than Hip and Humpty Drunky. Mo Hip Than Hop seems like more an experiment than something to take seriously. This song features Hip Hop artist Knowledgeborn 07. The synthy beat is bouncy and somewhat compelling , but as it went on I was eager to move on to see what else the album had to offer.

Besides that, 3rd Alley didn’t disappoint. Antidote is a superlative opener, coming in with a steady rhythm and a spacey riff on the guitar. Zach Walter’s voice bends along harmoniously, while he lyrically is searching for a fix to some of life’s problems. With about a minute left, Saxophonist Todd Forman compliments the drum and guitar progressions with a solo that must blare from a baritone sax, hitting some lower than usual notes. There are a few other times where Forman rips a brass solo throughout the album.

”Gonna play the most played out chord progressions of rock n roll” is a line sung in Jah Fakin Deejays, it is a sarcastic acknowledgement of the lack of talent in some areas of the music industry. Recently many musicians have pointed out the same issues through their music and lyrics; some have room to talk, some should calmly look around to see if anyone is looking then place their foot in their mouths. 3rd Alley has earned my respect in terms of musical drive with not only the tunes on this album but through their past releases. This song eerily reminds me of Weezer back in their Pinkerton days. In my own interpretation, it’s as though Walters’ voice sounds almost identical to Rivers Cuomo, lead singer and front man of the alternative sensation Weezer.

Space Cadet is my favorite on the album. To put it simply, it is one bulging extended metaphor about a girl that seems to live in another dimension. Her mind is never really there, even if she’s standing in front of you. I can’t quite tell if the beat is done by a drum machine or live, either way it sounds excellent with the acoustic riffs and Walter’s voice. It has a G.Love type of vibe to it, one of the few groups that would dare to attempt a rap verse over an acoustic setting. Their second endeavor at creating a rap sensation goes a lot better for 3rd Alley, as it is logged with similes similar to the closing line: “Serve me up some forbidden fruit, she’s got the ammunition and you know she will shoot.”

As I mentioned before there are many styles that appear on the album. Humpty Drunky is an all-out acoustic song, while Green To Red incorporates some sounds of indie alternative. The Doors Are Now Closing is a compilation of many styles and is one of the most interesting pieces of the year. After a few minutes of low-pitched rambling in some other language, the song finally begins and I heard the familiar voice of Josh Fischel, a very talented singer and songwriter. The duet sung by Fischel and Walters is actually a cover of a song titled I’m Alive formerly sung by the Electric Light Orchestra. In the latter minutes of the seventeen minute medley, I recognized one of my favorite songs performed by the B Foundation titled Bellyfloppin’. The song appeared on The B Foundation’s most recent album titled Souvenirs, Novelties, and Party Tricks. I was shocked to learn that Zack Walters actually originally wrote the lyrics & melodies to the song, while The B Foundation wrote the music to the original reggae tune for B Foundation’s album release in late 2009.

3rd Alley’s Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda is a compilation of many of today’s most popular genres. The mix should be refreshing to the average reggae listeners ears, as the content on this album only has a few blemishes. The production of the album as a whole is nearly flawless and each harmony deserves a tip of the hat. The wait for this album was well-worth it. These guys brought the heat in a diverse manner with Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.

Extra Notes:
3rd Alley first released the song “Antidote” on The Pier Comp Vol. 1 in 2009. You can hear a different version of that song on that release. And then in 2010, 3rd Alley released “Space Cadet” on Amplified; An Acoustic Collective, which was the last Sense Boardwear compilation. There you can grab an acoustic version of the song and both of these releases are available inside The Pier Store!

Written & Reviewed by: Matt Emodi

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]