Sorry it’s been so long without any updates to this site. I’ve been buried in work and IRL commitments to the point that I have had to prioritize between spending my free 20 minutes a week creating YouTube content, taping podcast episodes, and this thing…whatever “this” is.
Over the 4th of July weekend, my statistics hit a jackpot off of a bet that I hedged a year ago on my Ben Fixes Everything channel. As predicted, bored tweens and random degenerates were looking to blow shit up on ‘Murica’s birthday, and my video on utilizing Glow Snakes to explode a car was just too tempting for most to resist. Once they discovered it was a completely fake joke, in poured waves of delicious internet hate and an avalanche of downvotes. ♥♥♥
I’m convinced that once science can harness internet butthurt as an legitimate energy source, we will never have to worry about filling coal mines with children, or global warming ever again.
Editor’s Note: (I really wanted to do a review of Jamiroquai’s Automation, but even after repeated plays, I couldn’t figure out a way to flesh out “Has two killer tracks, and a few other good ideas buried underneath a landfill of complete garbage” into 1,000 words.)
So that’s what I’ve been up to/against. Without any further ado, here’s my review of:
Mosaic, by 311
Release date: June 23, 2017
“Too Much To Think”
“On a Roll”
When it comes to critiquing new music, I have found over the years that I’m pretty bad at keeping an open mind. If something doesn’t appeal to me right away, I tend to write it off as “that band’s worst shit ever” and never listen to it again. Not a good characteristic to have in a music critic.
Case in point: One of my favorite 311 albums, Uplifter collected dust for almost three years after I listened to the whole album once and decided that I hated it. Eventually, my MP3 player played an Uplifter track randomly and decided to give the disc one more listen, and I ended up falling in love with it.
Tl;dr version: I tend to base an album’s worth on first impressions, even though I know almost all music finally grows on me after I start analyzing it closer.
But, even without my rose-tinted glasses of being a diehard 311 fan, I really enjoyed Mosaic for what it was. This album has 17 fucking tracks on it! It’s a far cry away from Universal Pulse – that awful “album” had 7 songs, and every one of them was almost as forgettable as the cover art (which was drawn by a 6 year old).
The tunes in this disc are far beefier than the normal reggae/rap rockin’ 311 fare. I’m no meathead by any stretch, but it is a welcome change of pace that is executed well with Tim Mahoney’s guitar work in the spotlight for most of the album. Even though there is plenty of heavy distortion used throughout, his guitar tone is bright, which keeps it from getting sludgy, dull, or repetitive. The best guitar work on this album is “One and the Same”, which is a soaring riff scale that rolls over itself over the course of the song with an awesome Castlevania feel.
P-Nut and his funky bass definitely take a backseat in this extensive collection of songs. Most older 311 tracks rely heavily on the bass line for the melody, rhythm and overall vibe, but album is definitively the Tim show. This album was partly produced by John Feldmann, who is known for his work as the vocalist and guitarist for Goldfinger, and has produced recordings for bands like Panic at the Disco and The Used, so one can see why this album gravitates the spotlight towards the aggressive guitar used in the forefront.
That’s a basic overview, but let’s pick apart the best tracks on the album-
“Too Much to Think” is the opening track, and the first single to be released (I had never heard it before I bought the whole album). I put it on while I fought through a slew of electrical problems on my motorcycle, and once this first track got to the first chorus, and it entranced me to stop, put down the wrenches and get closer to the boombox in order to hear it. The verses have a melancholy reggae vibe, but the choruses are a strong transition to a “happy” major scale that brings makes the song accessible and powerful. There are lots of changes in tempo, and all this variety over the course of the song makes the nearly four minute track feel fresh every time. This is my favorite track on the album, and I still have yet to get sick of it.
Plus, if you watch that video, there is .002 seconds of sideboob.
“Perfect Mistake” rings out with a crunchy guitar, and it rocks hard with it’s nu-metal groove. The lyrics are insanely stupid, but when the chorus hits, S.A. channels his inner Davey Havok and they sound almost exactly like A.F.I. I had to check the credits to see if he jumped in on vocals. It’s his shiniest part on the album, and it could have been a stunning track if they could have made the lyrics more interesting than stuff like “Listen up! We gonna wreck the place when we take the stage…..etc” They already have plenty of songs about themselves and the whole band experience, they should have tried to write better lyrics to convey a better story with such incredible music and chorus melody.
With “Forever Now”, fuzzy guitar paired alongside a funky beat drives this song. It might feel a bit.. generic, but the chord pattern is familiar and well-worn for a reason. The soulful solo after the first chorus is tasteful and the rapping/lyrics flow well throughout the length of the song. It’s not a song that would stand on it’s own as a single or anything, but it has an over-the-top vibe of happiness and it feels like a ray of Californinan sun.
“On a Roll” is the curtain call for the album, bringing the album to a rousing finale. It feels a lot like a call-out response to Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock and Roll”, except that it’s missing both Elton John and a piano. Lots of group chanting/vocals peppered over lyrics over 311 lyrical staples of overtones of overcoming odds and coming out on top. I’m a huge fan of positivity in music, and this song embodies all the optimistic advice that 311 normally preaches.
All in all, I would rank this album in the upper half of the 12 studio albums that 311 has made over their long career. It might not have the youthful electricity of the “Blue” album, or feel as complete as “Transistor”, but can stand tall among it’s platinum-rated siblings. 311 has evolved over the last 3 decades, and yet, can still utilize the unique sound they perfected way back in the 90’s to be accessible to new listeners.
OVERALL : 7.2 out of 10
Fun Facts about 311:
These guys smoke a lot of marijuana. They hold sponsorship deals with stock options with companies such as Hot Pockets, Totino’s and Fritos.
You can buy an official 311 vape pen to accent your sweet fedora.
They’ve been the same group (personnel-wise) for the last 27 years. Lots of dope = Longevity?
The Omaha Sessions EP is underrated, you dicks.