by Bwgrotha1s USER (30 Reviews)
December 30th, 2013 | 8 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album made from the most potent creative juices

311 may not have been completely mainstream accessible around the release of “Grassroots” but they were at least partially there, and simultaneously, they impressed all other music speculators. The Omaha boys had been pushing their material through releases that carried little to no promotion, and as a result they only achieved critical acclaim with hardly any commercial success.

In a sense, this is the perfect setting for an album like “Grassroots” the sophomore studio release from this ever-faithful alt. rock act. They have held the same signature sound as well as the same five founding members for over 20 years. This is a record the band made in their 20’s, after they began to see commercial failure and narrowly escaped a fire on their tour bus that destroyed all of their equipment. Their persistence is remarkable.

“Grassroots” tweaks just about every principle stapled in “Music.” The bloody-raw riffs that painted their debut were constructed on single tracks of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals all performed at once. This method is used on “Grassroots” in moderation, taking presence mainly on the hard-hitters and leaving the remaining space for more filtered material to be presented. On top of that, the use of psychedelic tones and trancey effects is increased and sees great success in sync with the pre-existing tendencies of their style.

“Homebrew” starts the record with a low guitar groove that makes use of an octave pedal. Its thick and harmonic sound teamed with 311’s usual rap-rock escapades supercharges their overall delivery.
The texture of the melody generated by guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist Pnut practically paints a picture along with every song on the album. They use a variety of distortions, pedals, and tones to keep things interesting.

On “Taiyed,” one of the shortest but sweetest 311 tracks, Mahoney covers every base, starting with clean bluesy jamming and transforming into elegant electric soloing for the outro. SA Martinez recites lyrics that soar above comprehension, mentioning himself as a “Ghostly Shark developing like a photograph slowly in the dark..” and Pnut grinds a constant funk-fueled bass-line. The combination of these elements makes for a cut that almost comes to life with its many textural attributes.

This is the name of the game for the whole record, as far as improvement goes, and it succeeds with everlasting quality because it works so well with 311’s formula. “Nutsymptom” proceeds to roll on impossibly simple riffage, but Martinez and Hexums’ delivery through a muffled speaker adds vibe, and Pnut’s eyebrow-raising second half turns the song into one of the album’s most memorable.

The dominant 311 style is still in full force; songs like “Applied Science,” “Salsa,” “Offbeat bare-ass,” etc. will keep you jumping and head-bobbing for months. The true pearls however, are the outwardly artistic tracks. “8:16 a.m.” is a mid-tempo tune with soothing guitar-riffs that fuse reggae, blues, and jazz into a melody perfectly fit for a tropical setting. The title track bounces back and forth between their grade A rap-rock and a colorful reggae chorus. “Six” jams hard and, at the same time, showcases truly intricate songwriting.

Last but not least, “1,2,3,” is a stunningly beautiful cut that rides an island groove with faint shoe-gaze rings filling out the background. Both Martinez and Hexum provide warm vocals that match the blanket of guitar and bass on the chorus to spine-chilling proportions. Hexum’s lyrics are heartfelt in defending the song’s character “They wanna bug you, but we won’t let em today..” “Run up the hill, do as you do…” sets a scene of the band on an ocean cliff viewing the song’s subject wandering around the island landscape.

In closing, any prospective listener that has heard 311’s self-titled album, or “Music,” or both, will find this record’s sound perfectly fit between those two. The self-titled release takes a mainstream turn, while “Music” couldn’t be further from commercial approval, but “Grassroots” is a perfect mix. It falls into a place in the spectrum of accessibility that deserves some of the highest respect; a spot where you receive the praise of higher powers, but not the passage of the general public. 311’s inventiveness and creativity demonstrated on this album proves the authenticity of their passion for songwriting. “Grassroots” has all of the traditional elements of 311’s signature sound (Which are essentially the only perks composing “Music”) plus the appropriate incorporation of trippy undertones and psychedelic textures, which combined, turns this record into an unforgettable classic.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 30th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

This was an amazing review. But somehow I'm boggled how you didn't talk about the song Omaha Stylee at all XD

Anyways, have a biiiiig pos!

December 30th 2013


my old username: omahastylee94 (94 being the year this baby came out)

December 30th 2013


i can see y u changed it heh

December 30th 2013


I actually had it as KILL for a lil bit, but everyone just ignored my recommendations so I came back home =/

I should actually get on what you recommended. I sometimes forget you are actually kind of a real person

December 30th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Really good review, sums up why I love this album so much. Might even bump this baby up to a 5.

Digging: Ross From Friends - You'll Understand

December 30th 2013


yes i have feelings too people dont even realise i shed a tear listening to sally oldfield last night who is mike oldfields sister who appeared on steve hacketts first record voyage of the acolyte who was in genesis which is a great band in the 70s but became pop fluff in the 80s but ah yes and what did i recommend you again?

December 30th 2013


Julia Someone

December 30th 2013


oh yea julee cruise yea she makes julia sound like a shithouse

check floating into the night bro it will change ur life!

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