Don't Tread on Me

Studio Album by released in 2005

Don't Tread on Me 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 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. 311 are always able to squeeze out a capable radio single (this time it's the album's title track) to keep the record label happy. Plus, they've been able to chart a 15-year career with a guy named P-Nut in the band. The five Los Angelinos by way of Nebraska are up to their old tricks with Don't Tread on Me: yet another mix of pop-reggae, easy alternative guitars and slight rap.

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 Don't Tread on Me 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.) There are no missteps on the album, and the group's faithful will have plenty to rock with.

You won't be disappointed as 311's style continues to evolve while remaining true to its distinctive alternative sound. Don't Tread on Me separates itself from 311's discography as more melodic and soft. Overall, this album sounds less chaotic than Evolver. The beats are more reggae-inspired and the vocals aren't as rushed. You'll hear a wide-range of vocal style from SA Martinez who sings more than he raps in this album. As with 311's earlier albums, you may need to listen to this album a few times to digest it; but once you do, you'll be hooked! With Don't Tread on Me, 311 have released the album that proved they still have what it takes to create catchy, creative, and extremely well crafted reggae-rock tunes.