Review Summary: Energy is a beautiful thing.
What is it about your favorite bands that make them stand head and shoulders above the rest? At times it’s the musicianship, the passion, the creativity, or the attitude. For 311, it’s the energy and the creativity that separates the band from the rest of its mainstream peers. From the beginning of 311’s career, the band has developed the reputation of being a spectacular live group; their reggae/rock/rap fusion translating beautifully to the outdoor concert performance. 311’s combination of genres is reminiscent of early Incubus and Red Hot Chili Peppers, the latter being a pioneer at fusing these different types of music together. What you get with 311 is essentially “BloodSexSugarMagik”-era Red Hot Chili Peppers with more rapping and more reggae. The band’s sound is actually quite interesting, and is only elevated by the tremendous energy the band brings. The energy proved to be a major facilitator of the success of 311’s early 1990’s records; for both “Music” and especially “Grassroots” received a great deal of critical acclaim.
The chemistry of vocalists S.A. Martinez and Nick Hexum is incredible to say the least. Hexum generally takes the lead, but this remains to be clear due to the fact that they tend to trade off very frequently. S.A. seems to have a voice better suited for the rapping sections, but also demonstrates more versatility and talent than his counterpart. Hexum however, may be better recognized as the face of the band; his rapid fire, yet simplistic method is what 311 is associated with in the present day. Contrary to what you might believe, Hexum and S.A. have the potential for remarkable harmonies, and do not hold this back. Opener Down
, while being one of the more famous 311 songs, is a perfect representation of the styles of each vocalist. On top of what is the record’s heaviest track, S.A. aggressively raps with Hexum chiming in with, “We've changed a lot and then some, some. You know that we have always been down, down.” Not only is Down
undoubtedly an underscore of the record, but also presents the listener with precisely what the band is about.
Amidst the heavy rock-rap of Hive
and Guns (Are for Pussies)
are tracks such as All Mixed Up
in which provide 311’s self-titled released with some much needed variety. The former is another one of 311’s most well-known songs, and a great one at that. The band’s reputation as a summer group could very well have been adopted from this track, which is one of the more reggae-infused songs in the band’s illustrious catalog. Along with the summery-vibe that All Mixed Up
gives off, S.A. and Hexum’s vocal performances are flawless; both adapting to the chilled atmosphere with great precision. Purpose
begins as though it will be even more of your traditional reggae track, but eventually shifts into 311’s trademark hard rock choruses. The “hidden gem” of the album could very well be Don’t Stay Home
; neither lacking in the melodic nor creativity departments.
311’s self-titled release is an intriguing listen, and an excellent one at that. While nothing overly spectacular is contained throughout the fourteen song track-list, the band has plenty of tricks up their sleeve that are unleashed on the album. Like its predecessor, “311” managed to receive critical acclaim and radio airplay, which is something that is to be desired by many bands in the present day. The summer-vibe of this record may not instantaneously warm up the weather at this time of year however, can only provide us with the opportunity to dream about it.
All Mixed Up
Don’t Stay Home
T & P Combo