311

Stereolithic

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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. Still present are lead singer Nick Hexum's laid-back croon, Doug "SA" Martinez's positive-minded raps, guitarist Tim Mahoney's slick yet fuzz-heavy rock sound, and bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Willis and drummer Chad Sexton's funky, dance-oriented rhythms. Stereolithic is a longer album at 15 tracks, with a heavy emphasis on songs built around the rub between Mahoney's deep sonic guitar slabs and Hexum's sweet-toned vocals. Tracks like "Ebb and Flow," "Revelation of the Year," and "The Great Divide" are old-school, funk-infused jams rooted in '90s grunge and alternative hip-hop aesthetic. Their maturity comes through in the band's use of harmonies, subtle melodic devices, and lyrics that find Hexum and the rest of 311 contemplating their harried adult lives as aging rock stars. On "Ebb and Flow," Martinez raps, "Always on the go and you're thirty thirty/ Gotta make the ends and get dirty dirty/Will it ever end?/Is it worthy?" Ultimately, this increased sense of self-reflection pays off, as we find that on Stereolithic, 311 have crafted a mature, sophisticated album that’s made the group more than worthy of our time than ever before.

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