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splendid > reviews > 8/21/2003
Third Grade Teacher
Third Grade Teacher
Self-Titled
Pinch Hit


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "What's Going On"

Buy me now
It's been almost 20 years since Van Halen obsessed about a certain teacher for whom they had it bad (so bad). This Third Grade Teacher, fronted by Sabrina Stevenson -- an actual third grade teacher -- forgoes the silicone and bikinis of 1984 for raucous garage rock.

Teaching kids is an arduous profession. Part of being able to deal with kids all day is finding an outlet through which to let out your frustrations after the bell rings and the little demons are shipped back home to their legal guardians. Dressed up in Catholic School attire, the quartet scream, bash and swear their pent-up aggressions away. If their all-out assault doesn't make Angus Young quiver in his schoolboy shorts, the deranged look in the otherwise attractive Stevenson's eyes will.

Pro-marijuana rocker "Roll It Up" is anchored by a powerful riff and Rob Ahlers' hard-charging drum bashing. "What's Going On" is not quite as relentless, but at least as catchy. A couple of songs dither past the five-minute mark -- very un-punk rock, I know -- and seem to come apart. The space rock of "Soul Machine/The Launch" serves only to break the album's momentum as it threatens to take Third Grade Teacher off of the planet.

In addition to the CD proper, a multimedia tracks includes videos for two non-album tracks that ram home the group's inherent craziness. Stevenson writhes and flails across the stage like an eight-year old in the midst of a temper tantrum while berating a young man in "Schoolboy". Bassist Laura Smith completes the dirty fantasy, her fishnet stockings kicking out from under her plaid mini skirt. The second video, "Tongues", is one of the most frenzied songs on the album.

The thought of a pretty, wholesome blonde third grade teacher rocking out with her friends in seedy LA Clubs, singing songs about beating unruly children and using drugs may not sit well with the PTA...but thankfully, most of us don't have children who attend the Fourth Street Elementary and can enjoy Third Grade Teacher for what it is: a rollicking good rock band in themed outfits.



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