After more than 20 years, the five-man band known as 311 can still jam.
311 fuses hard rock, reggae, funk and rap and has done so since forming in 1990. The group’s new album, “Stereolithic,” follows along this intercepting path of musical genres as the band reminisces on what has come before. 311 released the album March 11, or 311 Day, the band’s unofficial holiday.
The 15-track album begins with a hard guitar rift and a fast-paced drum beat lying under the melodic monotone vocals from frontman Nick Hexum on “Ebb and Flow.” The song speaks of materialism within the lyrics like, “All stressed out, working until your eyes bleed/overtime to buy things we don’t need.”
Next song up is the album’s single, “Five of Everything.” Following along the same lyrical platform of consumption and commercialism, this song speaks of breaking free from the materialistic culture our society has become — “Got five of everything but I just need one,” Hexum croons.
The band shows its first real glimpse of musical navigation in “Revelation of the Year.” Breaking away from the faster tempo songs, this song slows down as a rhythmic drumbeat and a high pitch guitar melody change the album’s path. Later in the album, “Friday Afternoon” takes the same path, slowing down the rhythm of “Stereolithic” so the album can come full circle. The album’s fifth track, titled “Stereolithic,” hits on the band’s reggae side.
“Sand Dollars,” one of the album’s better songs, takes the listener on a sailing exploration out to sea. Like waves crashing upon the shore, a dubbed out beat keeps the melodic flow of the song alive until a guitar-solo steals the spotlight to finish it out.
In “Simple True,” the band shows they can move with ease through different styles of music. The song starts with a bass slapping rhythm and moves into an upbeat summer style jam. The delicate plucks of the guitar strings are used to harmonize the song.
The musicians pull rap from their musical repertoire on “The Great Divide” and “Existential Hero,” creating a sound similar to Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine. Although rap plays a big role in the overall sound the band creates, the vocals do not really rise to the same level of musicianship the album conveys.
Listeners pick up a happy, good-vibe feel with “Boom Shanka,” an upbeat jam with a catchy chorus. The album concludes with the same harmonious and blissful concept on “Tranquility.” Melodic vocals singing, “Don’t be afraid, it’s all part of the plan for us,” ring over a subtle drumbeat and guitar rift, a perfect way to end the album.
“Stereolithic” is a well-produced album overall. The instruments come together throughout the album to produce a crisp sound, showing 311’s real musical talents— their vocals seem to be their downfall. Although there were a few bumps along the way, it’s a pleasant feeling to see a band this far into their career still jamming out and producing that feel-good music to promote happiness.
“Stereolithic” is available for listen on Spotify and for purchase through iTunes.