Believe it or not, 311 has a new album out today. Whether it’s any good is hard to say at this point; the apparent “Crossfire” scandal has pretty much ruined the event for me.

But what makes an album “any good”?

Why is it important to write about 311?

The band rests at the very gravitational core of my life, intrinsically linked to my zig-zag conception of what it means to build a world. I’ve gone here, I’ve gone there. Chapters in a story. The future emerges from an unknowable ether. All along, 311’s been with me.

I remember listening to Soundsystem in my friend’s mom’s van, trundling between Little League baseball and Tangletown. Developing the strands of hazy memory that make a childhood. The local pool. A Fender Strat propped up against the wall. CKY videos on a loop, forever.

Why write about music at all?

Maybe it’s a different band in your universe. Maybe it’s Shania Twain. Hopefully you’ve got a few whose music walks with you. Hopefully you’re not lonely.

The band is not infallible, no, obviously. That would be a lie. (One of the lyrics on the new album is actually, “Smoking that good weed, getting high, we are stoners on a highway with all of our friends.”) But it’s like watching the ripples made by a rock thrown into the lake. In a certain light, you wouldn’t consider it to be poorly rippling water, right?

If you look fast—don’t miss it!—you’ll see how much can happen in the course of a life, a cosmic splash, growing from a babbling/wriggling baby in the crib, walking from here to there and stumbling serenely onto the joy of it all with every passing moment.


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