"Don't Tread on Me"
"Don't Tread on Me" may seem an unlikely title for what is essentially an innocuous, summery burst of reggae, rock and hip-hop. But then, the lyrics found on 311 recordings have always been incidental to the band's rhythmically buoyant mix. Certainly no one ever became smarter or better informed by scrutinizing them.
The band's eighth album marks a reunion with producer Ron Saint Germain, who oversaw the quintet's 1995 self-titled, multi-platinum release. There are some cliched barbs to go along with the customary hooks this time around, particularly on the uncharacteristically slow rant "Solar Flare," which finds Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez sharing the vocals and alternately venting: "When did our leaders / Become bottom feeders / We're shooting up flares / Does anyone care." The two even have a few choice words for hands that feed them: "Porno shows, MTV ho's/And on the radio / It's the same song / That's just the way it goes."
Don't look for ambitious alternatives, though. As much as 311 may grouse about what's on the radio these days, it's hard to listen to "Frolic Room," "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and other Top 40-geared tracks without realizing that the band and Saint Germain want to snare as much airplay as they can. They may well succeed, too, but not by breaking any rules -- or even bending them.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday at Nissan Pavilion.