311’s latest album is the same old 311 you’ve grown to expect. Does that make it bad? Not necessarily. If you enjoy making the music, why experiment. If your fans enjoy the music why change it. If you enjoy listening to the music why make excuses or try to rationalize it. Music is a personal thing and at the same time is a group experience. Does hype influence people; to a certain extent yes, and it should. Hype is a great way to discover new bands, or a style of music you’ve never heard before. But on the other hand you shouldn’t listen to something you don’t truly enjoy just because everybody loves the band. And at the same time you shouldn’t not listen to something you enjoy because everybody else pans it.
With that out of the way, because for whatever reason people love to leave comments on all my 311 posts saying the band sucks and I suck for liking them, and/or listening to them and buying their music; I’ll get down to the finer details of this record. By the way, all those comments, they get deleted and marked as spam, so all future comments from said people I never have to read again.
This is the first self released 311 album after they made it big. Stereolithic was released on 311 Records. It’s more than double the length of their last album, Universal Pulse. The lengthy album is no coincidence to their notoriously lengthy album Transistor; as they went back and used the same producer for this latest album. The mixture of those three factors attributes to one of the better 311 albums in recent memory.
Stereolithic was pressed as a double LP on 180 gram black vinyl. The records come housed in a gatefold jacket, which is nice and thick. There it a lot to be desired however, as there are no liner notes to speak of. Pretty much nothing is printed inside the gatefold, as you can see from the photo below. Lyrics are nowhere to be found. The records themselves come in poly dust sleeves instead of paper, which is becoming the norm unfortunately. I personally can’t stand poly dust sleeves, but many people love them and think they’re better. The dust sleeves with this record are thicker than the average ply dust sleeve. I’m convinced the used the outer protective sleeves that many records come in or you can buy to place over your records The download code that comes with the record might as well be useless, as it leads you to horrible 192 kbps MP3’s. Again, I blame INgrooves, the digital distributor, for this nonsense. It’s unacceptable that when you buy an album you have the “privilege” to download lower quality MP3’s than you could through illegal download channels. Pressing info has not been announced, and since it’s 311 I expect there to be a couple thousand pressed, even the album is self released.
This record is on the very pricey side all things considered. Most places are selling it for around $30 when it was first released. Anticipating a price drop or waiting for sales to hit because the record wasn’t selling, I waited until many months after its release to buy it. I bought it for basically half price, $17 shipped.
To add further insult to injury to the pricing aspect, the band opted to do a Pledge Music campaign for absolutely no legitimate, understandable reason that I can see. These types of crowd sourcing fundraising sites are meant for entities that can’t financially get their project off the ground. A band like 311 should not be allowed to use any crowd sourcing site. These guys can easily finance every aspect of releasing an album. At one point Nick Hexum owned his own private island in the Florida Keys… And to add even further insult to injury, the band was charging more for the vinyl version of this album, $35 before shipping, than it cost if you buy it upon release from any retailer.