CD review: 311





Volcano; Release date: June 2, 2009

The Deal: Now in its 21st year of existence, 311 has released its ninth studio album and first disc in four years.

The Good: Throughout the years, the one constant has been the message of positivity and love of music which is apparent right off the bat with the first single, "Hey You." The band continues with the lack of the rap-rock that they helped originate on the second track, "It's Alright." They find time to bring more of a metal edge in moments, but for the most part they've abandoned the heavy sound for more of a reggae feel. The lyrics were never something unbelievable in the arsenal of 311. The band's always been about having a good time and I'm sure some of these tunes will be getting the crowd going during a live show. "Mix It Up" builds into a nice groove at the end that is ripe for a sing-along. "India Ink," "Jackpot," "Something Out of Nothing" and "Never Ending Summer" try to capture the distortion-fueled groove of Grassroots.

The Bad: It seems like ever since the band recorded "Amber," they've slowed things down in an effort to appeal to the masses instead of sticking with the upbeat funky rap-rock that brought them legions of hardcore fans. The band's recent albums have had a good single or two, but the rest sometimes sounds like filler. It's not bad filler — even some of the less unique 311 tracks are better than a lot of the crap that's on the radio these days.

The Verdict: Definitely not one of the band's best efforts, but fans will be happy with a handful of the tracks. Check them out live on July 3 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on the annual Unity Tour, with Ziggy Marley supporting.

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