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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

311 - Uplifter and Other News

Check it out! 311 released their latest album yesterday, entitled Uplifter. And if their first single "Hey You" is any indication, this album should be pretty solid. 311 stated ahead of the release that this, their 9th studio album would be their heaviest yet. I have yet to listen to it, but I'll update this post once I do later today.

Update: This album is definitely not the best thing 311 has put out. Probably not in their top 5 albums (Soundsystem, 311, Transistor, From Chaos, and Evolver in no particular order). But it's still decent alt-rock with a twist of dub and reggae, classic, average 311. Some tracks would be perfectly at home on other, older albums (i.e. "Something Out of Nothing"). This track has heavy guitar and bass lines and a harmonized, nearly nonsensical chorus that is the band's trademark. The lyrics are generically forgettable, but if you are listening to 311 for insightful poetry, you are an idiot. This is easy-to-enjoy summer music. And wow, look when they decided to release it!

Over the years, what 311's been best at has been creating one sound that merges so many different genres: rapping, rock guitar riffs, reggae steel drums, and dub echo and reverb. It's almost formulaic on some tracks, but that comes with having mega-producer Bob Rock on your album. For reference, he's the same guy who's worked with Simple Plan, Metallica, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue. He produced St. Anger, Slippery When Wet, and The Offspring's new album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. Take that as you will.

Yet, one aspect of Uplifter that separates it from past 311 albums is its acceptance of the indie sound (see "Too Much Too Fast"). It sounds like 311 channeling Weezer (new Weezer unfortunately). Too poppy for me. That being said, this album is definitely heavy on the whole, just like their older albums (pre-Soundsystem). I honestly think this album would be much more well received had it been released between 1995-1999, instead of now when alt-rock is more acoustic and melodious than powerful and groovy. What's interesting to see is how much 311 and Incubus have diverged in recent years. While both began as reggae-loving, alt-rock, funk acts in the 90s, Incubus has embraced a more mellow sound, while 311 has stuck to its angsty, almost punk-chanting sound. Sure, 311 has it's lighter moments (i.e. Amber, My Heart Sings, Love Song), but on the whole, it's a much more heavy and groovy band than most out there. For evidence of this, check out the new tracks "India Ink" and "Never Ending Summer" that is some powerful stuff. I love these tracks, but some of the other tracks sound too generic, but it's all definitely better than Don't Tread on Me. Needless to say, the funk abides, and P-Nut dominates. Just look at the silly bastard...
Overall, it's a bunch of 3-4 star tracks, nothing spectacular. The best tracks are "Hey You," "India Ink," "Never Ending Summer," and "Jackpot."

Other News:
  • Arctic Monkeys New Arctic Monkeys on August 25th! And if you didn't know, the third album from the British quartet is produced by QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, with the help of James Ford. That's some heavy shit. You can find more info here at CoS. The album has no title yet, but it has a track list:
  • 1. My Propeller
    2. Crying Lightning
    3. Dangerous Animals
    4. Secret Door
    5. Potion Approaching
    6. Fire & The Thud
    7. Cornerstone
    8. Dance Little Liar
    9. Pretty Visitors
    10. The Jeweller’s Hands

  • High Fidelity BU My boy Garrett is sitting in his apartment in Boston these days with little to do, so he's decided he will be updating his blog 3-5 times per week this month. Let's see if he keeps it up. Check it out here.

  • Asher Baby! Asher Roth, fresh off his debut album has already gotten big enough that he is headlining his own tour. Of course, he's bringing some friends along, including Kid Cudi, B.o.B., Pac Dic, and 88 Keys. So, along with Lollapalooza and opening for the blink-182 reunion tour, Asher is going to headline "The Great Hangover Tour." I'm pretty excited about seeing Asher, Cudi, and B.o.B. in great small venues. I just wish I was back in DC to see them at 9:30. So, check out tour dates and other info at CoS.

  • Dr. Dre for Dr. Pepper Like Dr. J and Dr. Love (Gene Simmons) before him, Dr. Dre will now appear in a Dr. Pepper ad campaign. So, instead of finishing Detox, Dre has decided to put out crap like Relapse and to make Dr. Pepper commercials. Oh and to continue taking steroids. Great. At least we get a short preview of some new Dre beats in the ad's background. Check it out below:

  • Pearl Jam Recently, Pearl Jam has announced that their new album Backspacer will be sold exclusively at Target. You'll also be able to pick it up at "independent retailers" and from Pearl Jam's site. Not only that, but the band played a secret show in Seattle a little while back and filmed it with director Cameron Crowe. The shoot will apparently be a part of a new Target ad campaign just as Christina Aguilera had done with her last album. Not only that, but for the first time in 20 years, Pearl Jam is without record label, so it's safe to say that without Target's partnership, this album would probably not see the light of day. You'll be able to pick up a copy of the album in Fall. For now, Pearl Jam premiered a new song, "Get Some," on Conan on Monday. Check it out below:

1 comment:

Matt said...

New 311 is better than their last album IMO but obviously doesn't touch S/T, Grassroots, Soundsystem, etc. Best track is "Never Ending Summer. Also thought they lost a little of the classic 311 guitar sound, but what else would you expect from Bob Rock?