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Don't Tread On Me

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Album Review

Over 311's decade-plus span they've fused reggae to crunchy rock chords, helped pioneer rap-rock, and made the occasional foray into jam band territory. They grew increasingly curious as songwriters on later efforts like Transistor and From Chaos, and made a veteran record with 2003's Evolver, which incorporated all the elements of their sound for a flawless, if just reliably good (not great) album. Released in 2005, Don't Tread on Me could be Evolver, Pt. 2. It has a few high points and very, very few lows, but ends up leveling off somewhere in the middle. It's 311 in sepia tone. "Speak Easy" returns S.A. Martinez to his rap persona over a viscous throwback groove; bombs, botox, and the culture of fear and complacency are some of the subjects drawing the activist ire of Martinez and Nick Hexum. "Frolic Room" is a tribute to the Hollywood Boulevard hangout, and appropriately has a great lyrical narrative and a combo of heavy chords and sunny Hexum/Martinez harmonies. The sinewy reggae punch 311's been perfecting for years rises again on "Waiting," while Martinez handles lead vocals impressively on "Getting Through to Her." In its "Life is not TV" mantra, the latter cut's also one of the numerous allusions on Tread to finding true reality around the corner or in yourself, instead of on the tube. Like that positive outlook, it's nearly impossible to dislike 311. You're never far away from an organic dub turn or heavy moment, and there's always a drum-tight, elastic rhythm snaking underneath the two-vocalist setup and trebly guitars. (Both the title track and "Thank Your Lucky Stars" are notable for this.) At the same time, arriving nearly two years after Evolver and with a greatest-hits album in the middle, Don't Tread on Me suggests 311 are playing it just a little safe. There are no missteps on the album, and the group's faithful will have plenty to rock with. But Don't Tread on Me still feels like one to grow on instead of one to remember.

Customer Reviews

Good album

First thing's first. This is not 311's best album and most 311 fans would put it low in the ranks, but it's still a good album. A "bad" 311 CD is still usually a lot better than most other bands best albums. Things kick off great with the opening title track "Don't Tread On Me", which is a classic sounding 311 song. It has it's reggae vibe with a hard rockin break down and great basslines. "Solar Flare" is another track that's more traditional sounding 311, with it's hard rocking guitars and rapped verses by S.A. Martinez. "It's Getting Ok Now" is another rocker with melodic singing by S.A. over top of fast tempo'd metalish riffs. Those are some rockers but this album also has its mellow moments. "Speak Easy" is a great laid back track with a carribean vibe and even some steel drums. It is an excellent song and one of my favs from this disc. "Waiting" was described by S.A. as if The Beatles had gone to Jamaica and made that song. It has excellent harmonies and a great chilled out guitar solo by Tim Mahoney. It's a different side of 311 than we've seen. "Whiskey and Whine" is another notable mellow track with terrific harmonies throughout the verse and a nice laid back verse from Nick. The album ends with "There's Always an Excuse", which is reminscent of "Sometimes Jack's Rule The Realm" which was their closer from Evolver. It's similar in the fact that it does not follow any real structure and the song has many changes. It builds up into an almost Slash esque guitar solo. Overall, this is an enjoyable listen from beggining to end. If you have never listened to 311 before, this probably wouldn't be the best album to start with (for that, I'd say the self titled album, Sound System, or From Chaos would be best) but it's definitely worth having and a must have for all 311 fans.

Songs that I got that are awesome

Don't Tread On Me - Sick opening, kinda fast reggae style, good vocals. Frolic Room - Cool chorus, kinda catchy. Speak Easy - Sweet synths, bubbly guitar line. Waiting - Another sick opening, really catch chorus. Long for the Flowers - Sick guitar chorus, pretty cool verses. Getting Through to Her - Easy to listen to, cool guitar line in chorus.

Mellowed and Musical

Eventually we all grow up. Those of us who have been fans of 311 since Grassroots are now in our 30's. Wow... This has become my favorite of all 311's albums, including their new Uplifter. Those who enjoy 311's cooler & more relaxed songs like Amber, Beyond the Gray Sky, 8:16am, I'll Be Here Awhile, or their Love Song cover will enjoy this album. Those who only like their faster & harder songs like Transistor, Feels So Good, or Do You Right will only have one song on this album to look forward to, Solar Flare. The rest have a chill pace and would make a good soundtrack for having drinks with your friends on a Caribbean beach. You can really hear the influence of the reggae & island bands they've been touring with over the years. Frolic Room is just brilliant. Getting Through to Her, There's Always an Excuse, Long for the Flowers, Whiskey and Wine, and Speak Easy are excellent as well. Just relax and enjoy 311.


Formed: 1990 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

311's fusion of reggae and rap-metal was created in Omaha, Nebraska, where singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, DJ/singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton, and the bassist known only as P-Nut launched the group in 1990. Taking their name from the Omaha Police Department's code for indecent exposure, the quintet began gigging locally and soon moved to Los Angeles, signing with Capricorn Records in 1991. 311 then translated their regional success into national recognition with several...
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