Release Date: Mar 11, 2014
Record label: 311 Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Rap-Rock
311's eleventh studio-album, 2014's Stereolithic, finds the long-running rap-rock ensemble sticking to their time-tested sound, while displaying a more mature lyrical sense and a deepened sense of their musical influences. The band's first completely independent release since their 1993 debut, Stereolithic reunites 311 with producer Scott "Scotch" Ralston, who previously helmed the band's 1997 album Transistor and 1998's Soundsystem. The pairing clearly works, and in a lot of ways, Stereolithic sounds like a classic 311 album.
I’m about to go out on a limb here. As for how, we’ll get to that shortly. Stereolithic is 311’s 11th album. It’s a break from the majors into indie self-release territory, and a reunion with producer Scotch Ralston, whose presence hasn’t been heard on a 311 album since 1999’s Soundsystem.
In many ways, it’s both logical and lazy to criticize an album for its length. “I liked Reflektor, but it was just too long.” That’s how I felt when Arcade Fire’s dancehall opus was first released. Yet, if something’s good, shouldn’t the length not be an issue? Shouldn’t you want more of what you love from a particular band? While I’ve since come around to Reflektor, I still can’t pin down why the runtime initially bothered me so much.
On their first indie album in more than 20 years, funk metal's chillest bros are less concerned with elbowing for radio play – they've ditched producer Bob Rock after two albums – and are more content to settle into a heavier, self-sustaining life as a reggae version of alt-metal mainstays Helmet. Fighting the push-pull of negative-vibe merchants ("They wanna play my emotions/But I'm like the ocean"), the LP bursts with joyous choruses and taut grooves imported directly from the band's Nineties years – not to mention Sublime's and Faith No More's. There are a few surprises, like when the sappy "Friday Afternoon" busts a left into Black Sabbath, but for the most part it's formulaic all the way.