311 – Grassroots: Holographic Earth
All things cast a shadow. As the beauty and wonder of the forest gives way to our deepest fears at night, fame and notoriety bring with them their own dangers. With a taste of success, 311 explore their shadow selves and discover all that glitters is not necessarily gold.
Grassroots is the sonic representation of a tumultuous coming of age year, in which the members of 311 toured relentlessly to promote Music
, their major label debut. This band of brothers gathered their meager belongings and piled into a RV borrowed from Drummer Chad Sexton’s father. They towed their equipment behind them in an old VW bus. The group was tested but not bested when the vehicle later erupted into flames, destroying their equipment. They experienced a degree of fame and frustration not previously tapped. They also caught a glimpse of the other side of the music biz; a treacherous place where motivations to maintain artistic integrity and stay true to the fans may not be shared by those who claim to be in your corner.
is without a doubt 311’s most rap-centric album. The rhymes come fast and furious with Hexum and Martinez expounding relentlessly in a familiar tag-team style. The duo is seemingly oblivious to song transitions, as if determined to complete a lyrical tangent before time expires. Though dizzying at times, this only serves to heighten the overall impact. “Salsa” exemplifies this phenomenon with torrential rants about deadbeat ex-roommates and “ho-bag skeezer” groupies over syncopated metal grooves and clean backbeat ska chording.
311’s penchant for aggressive songs with huge, catchy choruses continues on Grassroots, albeit to a lesser extent than previous (or future) albums. They make this apparent right off the bat with Homebrew, a potent concoction consisting of equal parts juvenile hip-hop posturing and the subtle advocation of entheogens. Here Hexum touts “I’ve seen the other side and I say…Oh, I’ve been insane and I won’t ever be the same”. This sentiment parallels the group’s collective loss of innocence as they shed their naiveté about the music business.
The above formula is essentially repeated for both “Omaha Stylee” and “Grassroots”. The former finds Hexum and SA indulging in a bit of introspection, chronicling their ascent from a small time Nebraska band just trying to get their distinctive sound out to the masses. The latter, is a monster of song with a hypnotic groove and deeply philosophical lyrics which speak to the foundation of character both as individuals and the group as a collective whole. If you don’t find your head bobbing to the chorus of “Omaha Stylee” or the verse of “Grassroots” you clearly don’t have a pulse.
“8:16AM” and “Lose” slow things down a bit and showcase the group’s superb musicianship and songwriting skills. When in this mode 311 have an uncanny ability to suck you in with genuine (albeit cheesy) sentiment, wow you with fantastic instrumentals, and uplift you with a soaring bridge or chorus within the space of a few minutes. Both of these songs are fantastically memorable and the epitome of chill.
we find 311 in throws of adolescent angst. Self-assured and full of bravado, they set out to stake their claim on the music industry only to discover unforeseen obstacles, self-imposed and otherwise. Through strife comes change, and through change comes growth. With the release of and subsequent success of Grassroots
311 come to the realization that a solid foundation yields a sturdy structure. Having maintained their commitment to their sound and their fans through adversity, 311 enter the height of their popularity knowing that success has been earned.
|other reviews of this album|
Album Rating: 4.5
Been sitting on this forever. Probably sucks but whatevs, at least its not a tbt...
I always love seeing these guys getting a bit, albeit small amount, of Sput-lovin'. They, as you can see, inspired my username greatly. I listened to these guys so much in 5-7th grade... I will always adore them.
Album Rating: 4.5
If I stay active on Sputnik, I might finish this discog around 2013.
I will always love this band and thanks for the pos!
I did an Uplifter review last year at some point. I felt that it was a step up for them; it was a very good summer album for me.
Album Rating: 4.5
I did one too...was initially disappointed but that album is totally solid
Album Rating: 4.0
I've been listening to this a shitload lately for some reason. Mainly "Homebrew", I can't seem to get enough of that song these days. I totally need to go see these guys again, they put on a great live show.
Digging: Kevin Abstract - American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story
I've seen them live like 8 times... And I'm 18. But this last summer the tickets cost like $60, hell no I'm not paying that, and their latest album wasn't even too impressive.
Just read this review again, and damn it's a lot better than I remember.
This album jams. This is 311 and their best album. The first album is great, too, but it seems to be a little less consistent, or perhaps maybe just a bit more rough around the edges.
I like most of their discography, however, I think the third album, their self-titled, is when they kind of found a more mainstream marketable approach, and they haven't deviated much from it, which to me makes them run out of gas by the time I get around to the Evolver album.
I agree with you completely; however, I would probably say Soundsystem was their major foray into mainstream, because of how weird Transistor was.
But yeah, Music just had something missing. The songs didn't shine like they do on this album x)
True, Transistor was a bit more deviating and refreshing, and Soundsystem is probably where most say they started to mainstream it a bit, but I think that started at the self-titled actually.
Songs like Salsa, and Offbeat Bare Ass have a certain punk vibe to them that was also more present on the first album, that I don't remember hearing much of after Grassroots.
I dunno man, the heavier songs on From Chaos seemed to be more punkish to me. But I know what you mean; I love the style of this album. Songs like Nutsymptom and Silver are so so ridiculously infectious. The riffs are just so great
Yeah, it's hard to explain.
I guess it's like most bands. The first album has generally got more intensity in it, and for 311 it is no different to me. Their first album was the most intense to me but to me it was a bit less polished; to me they haven't quite found their trademark sound yet.
Grassroots still kept what I liked most about the first album(it's a certain "I don't give a fuck" attitude), but it was streamlined and polished a bit more, and to me it was the most funky album, with tight bass and grooves. That heavy-hitting hard-rocking sound from the first album gave way to a more groovy sound.
The self titled was like a child of the first and second album. To me it was a faster, harder rocking album, sort of like the first, but it had killer grooves like from Grassroots. It was more consistent and a lot of that "I don't give a fuck" attitude from the first two had been kind of lost in the polishing process. It's a much more "friendly" album, and a much more accessible album. This is when I remember a lot of people getting into 311.
They tried some different stuff in Transistor, and for that I am thankful, because even though I think the album is so far the least consistent, it's got some of my favorite songs on it like Galaxy, The Continuous Life, Use of Time, and Beautiful Disaster.
I think by this time they were comfortable in their sound, and were doing well so they stuck to the formula, and put out Soundsystem. I like Soundsystem, but not as much as the first four. They don't deviate from the method and to me Soundsystem, From Chaos, and Evolver could all be from the same album, the songs have that much similarity in groove.
I see what you mean. As of lately they really seem to be comfortable- their past three albums have shown absolutely no progression whatsoever, which irritates me...
Album Rating: 4.5
although I don't have it rated highly, Universal Pulse is one of my most listened to albums this summer past...
I will say that 311 absolutely has a distinctive sound, and I believe it's been present in every release. However, Transistor and Soundsystem seem to have the most experimentation or variation between tracks, and they're my two favorite releases.
Really? I only heard it once, and wasn't impressed. Uplifter had to grow on me, so maybe that's the case with UP also.
I would love to see them do something crazy musically now, but I know they aren't going to...
And for the record: 311 owns. This is one of those bands that I can listen to pretty much any time and enjoy them.
I felt that way a long time ago, but I feel like I've grown out of that phase :[ however, they did profoundly affect how I view music
You left a big surprise for Pacific Bell
For all ya relatives, and ya friends in hell
It is a pretty sweet album