311 - Evolver (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Evolver (2003)


Now here's a review you probably wouldn't expect to see on this site.

The majority of you may already know 311, but may not necessarily like them. I've come to learn that 311 is an acquired taste, and that there is no "middle of the road" when it comes to this band. That being said, they've got a new album out on Volcano, entitled Evolver, and it takes everything that 311 had and pushes it to the next level. 311 fans beware, you must go into this album with an open mind, or you may find yourself having a very hard time getting into it.

For those who don't know (how could you not?), 311 mixes many genres of music into one absolutely sick concoction. They blend rock, punk, reggae, and hip-hop and turn it into a style all their own. In the past (and this still holds true to Evolver), the singing has been done by Nick Hexum, and the rapping and melody parts have been done by the other vocalist S.A. Martinez. Lately, however, S.A. has been taking on much more singing roles, which expands his, as well as the band's horizons. 311 is a band with insane amounts of musical talent, as flaunted by guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut, and drummer Chad Sexton. P-Nut has especially shined for the band, making the bass lines an integral part of their music. Tim has shown the ability to play both soft melodies and shred sick guitar solos, and Chad Sexton has got to be the smoothest drummer this side of rock music. To call this band musically tight would be an understatement. They're tight like your goddamn baby sister.

On Evolver, the band pushes the envelope once again, this time taking a much more chill approach. The music has been toned down and slowed down a lot, but don't fret, because the boys haven't gone soft; they're just now able to show how well they really play when their reggae and dub influences shine. The minimal rapping by S.A. surprised me, but he sounds to definitely be coming into his own with his singing voice. The bass lines are a major part of Evolver, as they are usually the showcase of every song on the album. Chad's role is minimized on this CD, but that's not to say the drumming is poor. The riffs are still fun, and the use of an acoustic guitar expands the band's horizons even further still. It's a departure from their earlier stuff, but then again, isn't every 311 album a new chapter for them? This is an evolution for them, hence the title of the CD.

The album kicks off with the first single, "Creatures (For A While)", which a lot of people think to be one of their worst songs ever. I couldn't disagree more, as this song rocks real hard, with a fun chorus and great bass line in the verses. "Reconsider Everything" has been a fan favorite when played live for a while now, and they've tweaked it a bit for the studio release. It sounds great, as the lead guitar hook will stick in your head for hours. The third track, "Crack The Code", slows things down a bit, but holds its place as the album's best song. It's fun, catchy, and Nick's vocal delivery is extra smooth on this song. Three thumbs up for this one (yes, three, it's so damn good you'll have to find me an extra hand).

The album takes a severe plunge with what I feel is the worst 311 song ever, "Same Mistake Twice". It is an obvious rip off of their song "Flowing", off of Soundsystem, and the song is flat out boring. The boys should've taken their own advice when they sing "It's one thing to make the same mistake twice..." in the chorus.

"Beyond The Grey Sky" is the slowest song on the album, and it brings back the guitar tone found on songs like "Amber" and "Champagne", both found on From Chaos. The verses are soft, which lead into a rocking chorus, and ends with a huge guitar solo from Tim over soaring "ooh-ooh-ooh's" from Nick. I wasn't feeling this song at first, but it grew on me like some sort of terribly contagious disease. "Seems Uncertain" was another song I couldn't get into at first, but now love. It's an adventurous song, using the acoustic guitar, and without using S.A. The band brings back the rock with "Still Dreaming", but I can't help but feel that this song isn't as good as it could be. The guitars in the verses are nice, but it feels like something is missing from a song that could very well be great. "Give Me A Call" is just a stupid song, but it is followed by "Don't Dwell", a song based entirely off of a slap bass riff by P-Nut. It's a fun song, bringing back the vibe from the band's early days, a la Music. It is worth hearing just to experience just how nasty P-nut is. Yet another venture back into yet another older CD of theirs, "The Other Side Of Things" sounds like something that could come right off of their "Blue Album". It's solid as hell, and the chorus is just infectious. The album's big surprise is the final track, "Sometimes Jacks Rule The Realm", a straight-up acoustic song with an almost grungy instrumental bridge. It's a huge departure, unlike anything the band has ever done before, but they pull it off great, and Nick sounds better than ever on this song. It's a great way to end a very adventurous album.

I'd probably rank this album 3rd amongst all of 311's work (behind the masterful Grassroots and From Chaos). There have been better releases this year, but not many, and this CD is really deserving of a chance from everyone in search of good music. Like I said before, just go into listening to this CD with an open mind.

P.S. - this was by far the best album released on July 22nd, 2003. Eat your hearts out, Thrice and Yellowcard.

Standout Tracks:

"Crack The Code"
"Don't Dwell"
"The Other Side Of Things"
"Sometimes Jacks Rule The Realm"