Transistor
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2003
I know that Aidin Vaziri may be some big shot freelance music reviewer, but everything I've read by Aidin sounds as if he doesn't know much about music at all. Don't get me wrong, he points out how much he knows about different musical groups, but never does he talk about the quality going into those groups. His review on Transistor is ridiculous. This is (in my opinion) one of the most underrated albums of all time, right there with anything by Silverchair. According to Aidin, this album was a bad attempt to follow suit with the reggae movement. Wow. They weren't trying to be something they aren't, maybe Aidin should listen to all of 311's albums. They've always shown their influence in reggae. Absolute masterpiece. If you've heard it before and disliked it, HEAR it again.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I don't understand the so-called "fans" who bash this album for not sounding like old-school 311. This is undeniably 311's most eclectic and experimental album to date, and understandably so; the band was simply at a point in their career where making the same record twice was not an option anymore. Every song on here is amazing, except maybe for "Rub a Dub". Haven't quite figured that one out yet; it's just not 311 at all. This is a long album with only a handful of roof-raising hard rock songs, focusing more on expanding the band's sound into larger territory with songs like "Inner Light Spectrum" and "Stealing Happy Hours". The lyrics here are top notch, not falling into the cheesy territory of the "From Chaos" record. The songs often do not follow traditional song structures, throwing in some interesting time signature changes and rhythmic transitons such as the reggae jam at the end of the title track. Mahoney's guitar work is amazing on this record, focusing less on metal-influenced chords and more on jazz, blues, and reggae soloing. The first thing the 311 listener will notice upon first listen is the greatly reduced usage of rapping. Don't get me wrong; 311 is always good at rapping lyrics, but it's nice to hear two extremely gifted singers finally showcasing their deeper talents. Many people criticize the record for not being like the self-titled "blue" album, but there's one thing you must remember: the self-titled album, while being the band's first big hit album, was in fact their 3rd major label album. They had been doing this act for some time, and it was about time they dared and challenged their listeners to enter new territory with them while still remaining true to their roots. This album may not have all the headbanging party songs from earlier records, but the songwriting is undeniably their best ever. So don't listen to naysayers. 311 has yet to match this album's artistic integrity and genius. Interesting how bands' most creative and interesting albums are often discarded and forgotten by folks these days because they lack the old reliable sound of the band. Other sad examples of this are Nine Inch Nails' "The Fragile", Led Zeppelin's "Presence", and Pearl Jam's amazing "No Code". Listen with an open ear, folks. This record may take a little time to grow on you, but once it does, you'll be glad it did.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2005
This record is bliss. I find the beats and rhythms stellar, while the songs transport me to different places with their psychedelic appeal, voyaging into new territory almost on each track. This album was way ahead of its time when it came out in 1997. 311 found their artistic niche with Transistor, and they went against a lot of expectations by the mainstream audience and disapproving media who wanted another "blue album" (a nice record itself, but not as artistic or musical as this one). I believe such criticism must be taken lightly when judging this art form, for we all have our own subjective tastes and separate definitions of what "good music" must sound like. You sort of have to feel it out for yourself and see if Transistor rubs you the right or wrong way. For too many others, they wanted the same thing that came before, dismissing this album.
To me Transistor feels like the future of music, combining many styles and infusing skilled instrumental play with ambient progressions of vocals, melodies, and song ideas. Transistor rocks, but it has so much more to offer than any casual fan will be ready for.
If 311 ever decide to follow such an abstract direction again, then they will truly shatter the limitations that musical mediators try and use to weigh down recording artists that have made it big. There is a notion to be easily digestible and not overstep any creative bounds beyond simplicity. Fortunately for us, there exists 311.

I don't believe there's anything wrong with going against the norm (sometimes it's needed badly), and 311 displayed this by writing what they wanted. I give a lot of respect to them for pushing the envelope and having this much ambition at a time when they were enjoying much success.
This album is amazing. It's probably best to listen to in an atmosphere that is conducive to feelings of comfort and peace, humming along with headphones on. But, to each his own. So enjoy!

I cannot wait to hear what's in store next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2001
311 have managed to create a masterpiece with "Transistor". From beginning to end, this CD really delivers. In their previous self-titled effort, 311 mixed agressive rap phrasing with singing which builds the listener up to melodic, memorable, yet sparse, singing. Transistor showcases the band's vocal talents in full effect. There is a healthy variety of musically blended styles which are 100% effective and pleasing to the ear. The two male vocalists harmonize to perfection over jagged guitar and clangy drum sytlings which remain fresh and hook-drenched. It's a pure pleasure to listen to the diversity of the voices rapping (less noisily or as often as before) at one moment, then crooning in perfect pitch and harmony (many times all the way through an entire song) at the next. Listening to such tracks as "Inner Light Spectrum" and "Use of Time" is a totally blissful experience and can lift any bad mood. Other tracks like "Beautiful Disaster" and the title song flourish with a more edgier, yet still catchy, brilliance. "Creature Feature" portrays an excellent transformation from a happy, carefree verse into an almost frightening bridge and chorus (complete with eerie bells) then back again. "Stealing Happy Hours" virtually transports the listener into an almost lounge-like setting with its skillfull guitar handiwork. "No Control" starts out with a funky Prince-style "Wacka Wacka" guitar lick and calm vocals, then becomes an all out attack of rap and turns back around with a very effective result. In "What was I Thinking" Mr. Hexum's voice is drowned in distortion, to the point where most of the lyrics are undecipherable, yet it remains one of the disc's stronger tracks. The CD utilizes multiple vocal (and guitar) effects which, rather than disguise poorly performed vocals and guitars, intensifies them with well-polished and structured accuracy. 311 are an extremely talented group of guys who demonstrate a remarkable knack for experimentation and delivery with a wide range of sound and vocals. With the exception of "Galaxy", i would say that every song on this disc is a masterpiece! Buy it now and enjoy!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2000
I've been a 311 fan since Grassroots, and it puzzles me that everyone calls this "311's worst album". One thing is certain: This is definitely 311's most experimental album, so many of the people who jumped on the bandwagon with "Down" would be disappointed that this album doesn't feature several "Down" rehashes, as many bands who have a hit song tend to do (ex, Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth). The album as a whole doesn't have as much of a hip-hop flavor as 311's first three albums, but you still have "Galaxy", "No Control", "The Continuous Life", "Borders", etc., which sound enough like old school 311. On the other side, 311 take a few 180 degree turns from that sound on tracks like "Stealing Happy Hours", "Rub A Dub", and "Running", which are laid back and go into dub reggae territory. 311's lyrics are at their peak (they focus on astrology on several tracks, as you would expect with song titles like "Galaxy" and "Starshines") and they silence the naysayers who criticized them by saying "all their songs sound the same" - this is their most varied and eclectic album to date. It ties Grassroots for being 311's best album, and it's safe to say that anyone who has a few of their albums (not just the self-titled) will like this, even if it takes time to get used to the new sound. Whether you like it or not, you've got to hand it to 311 for not being afraid to experiment and not throwing out the same old formulaic drivel just to sell albums.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2000
I first got into 311 by picking up this cd about a year and a half ago. I really didn't get it for any specific reason, I remembered hearing the singles a couple years back and decided why not try it out. After the first listen I really liked it and it continued to grow on me. The complexity and originality in the song writing is clear and very infectious. Some regard this album as boring either because of its length or because it has more slow songs on it than other 311 releases, but I wish more bands would make 22 song 65+ minute albums. You just can't go wrong with putting more music on an album than what is usually expected. Everyone has different musical tastes and more tracks results in more music that will fit your specific tastes, especially with a musically fickle band like 311. As for 22 songs, yes there are 22, there is an instrumental (with a phenomenal guitar solo) before the first track (you must rewind to hear it) As for the rest of the album, here is a run down of the songs:
1.Transistor - a great rock start. I enjoy the reggae influenced shift toward the end as well. 2.Prisoner - a reggae-ish laid back song, shows the singing talent of the vocalists. 3.Galaxy - one of the best, fast and heavy with some nice rapping by Martinez. 4.Beautiful Disaster - a rock song with reggae influences, I love the furious post-chorus instrumental part. 5.Inner Light Spectrum - a nice slow one. Shows Martinez's singing skill. 6.Electricity - a nice straight up rock song. 7.What Was I Thinking? - All out fury in this song, you can feel the tension at the beginning with the opening bass line. The distorted vocals are great. 8.Jupiter - Has a cool begginning that shifts to the main rock part. The vibe will make you smile. 9.Use of Time - One of my favorite 311 songs, starts acoustic then builds up to two amazing guitar solos by Mahoney. Shows Hexums vocal talents as well. 10.The Continuous Life - sort of a laid back dark sound to it with Martinez rapping. It picks up into a more rock base in the chorus. 11.No Control - One of the most diverse songs on the album, starts soft with Hexum singing then goes crazy with Martinez rap portion then to the rock chorus. I love it. 12.Running - A laid back one. There's a really cool time shift in the music. The interlude is in 5 and the main portion is in 4. Mahoney has a cool guitar solo in it as well. 13.Color - A short eerie instrumental, makes a nice transition into the next song. 14.Light Years - An eerie song with a really cool main riff. I can't place a finger on exactly what it reminds me of. 15.Creature Feature - The last of the eerie, Pnut uses a fretless bass on this one making a really cool smooth sound. The progression is good as well. 16.Tune In - Sort of reminiscent of Down from their self titled album. 17.Rub a Dub - A nice reggae influenced one. 18.Starshines - Hexum starts the song off making a mellow rap track with a really catchy chorus, the song shifts towards the middle to be less mellow and more rock based where Martinez does his share. 19.Strangers - Sort of a hip hop based song, Hexum raps on it. Got a nice groove to it. 20.Borders - one of my favorites, Hexum and Martinez trade lines to this rap / hard rock combo. 21.Stealing Happy Hours - really laid back, has some nice guitar work in it, And if all of that was not enough, there's an extra part shortly after the last song.
Once again, I love this album, There is a certain feel to it which I don't find in any other album, it is also the perfect music to just chill to. It persuaded me to get 311's other releases, all of which are equally outstanding.
PS- To talk ill of this album is blasphemy, go smoke something.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2006
While I think Grasroots and Music are the best albums from the band, I think this album is the best one to listen to start to finish. It is very solid from beginning to end, and sorta seems to talk about the band's philosophy of life, outer space, technology, and probably a thousand other subtle things. While there are songs that standout IMO (Stealing Happy hours is my favorite on the album with No Control, Inner Light Specturm, Prisoner, and Starshines), pretty much every song on the album ties in well with the other, and there are only a couple tracks that are sort of weak or don't (Tune In and Rub a Dub come to mind, but they aren't that bad either). I love the fact they went into the studio to create an album they wanted to create, and did it with a lot of originality and supurb musicianship. This album is definitely a must own.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2005
Give me this album and Grassroots and I am set for my island. This is 311's most experimental album by far and it showcases the wide ranges of talent they posess musically. Released in 1997 on the heel of the Blue Album, 311 were the princes of rock and this album was a curveball for many. It did still sell 4 million copies on the strengths of the previous albums residuals and the hit "Beautiful Disaster", but overall to mainstream critics it was a dissapointment. To many 311 fans however this album is a gem.

The first 7 tracks are good (especially Prisoner and Inner Light Spectrum), but the album really gets moving with Jupiter and takes off with Use of Time, probably one of the top 5 songs 311 has ever done, with Nick Hexum lamenting about writers block and creating music. The 2nd half of the album (which is 21 tracks and takes up most the cd time allowed) showcases 311's dub influences (Strangers, Rub a Dub)and their ability for laid back stoner grooves (Stealing Happy Hours, Running). There is also a few rockers (Tune In, Starshines) and a track that reminds me of the opening theme from Adam's Family (Light Years). My only complaint is that there sems to be a rushed feeling to many tracks on the 2nd part of the album. 311 has stated they were pressed to get a massive concept like this finished on time. Maybe more time and an expansion of some of the song ideas into a double disc could alleviate this problem.

311 has a lot to be proud of. Still together after 13 years and putting out records that still are relevant (everyone of their proper studio releases has charted in the top 10 since The Blue Album). They also have continued their tradition as a strong live act. This album is the peak of 311 as their subsequent work never again reached the work of the first four albums. Enjoy It!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2004
Transistor was and still is one of 311's best works. The album is a testament to the variety of styles that 311 can play, and not only that, but play them well. This album holds some of 311s best songs, Use of Time, Stealing Happy Hours, Prisoner, and more.
The people who think this album is terrible are the ones who heard 311 on the radio or MTV and expected every single song to sound just like "Down" or "All Mixed Up". Bad news for them.
311 refused to continue on with the same old style (don't get me wrong, I love the old-school 311 of Music and Grassroots and "The Blue Album"), and instead decided to experiment and try many different styles. The result was an incredible combination of rock, reggae, rap, and more.
I would recommend this for anyone who loves all styles of music and can listen with a patient and truly open ear.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2006
Most 311 albums have stand-out tracks but lack flow and consistancy, like MUSIC and 311. Some flow together perfectly but don't have many standout tracks, like GRASSROOTS and FROM CHAOS. I like all of the 311 albums for different reasons, but this one has risen to the top for many reasons...

1. With an album that was considered their first major-hyped release, they made the album they wanted to make. They stuck to their guns and the album was a success because of that.

2. It all flows well together. The songs fall together like a puzzle.

3. It has many, many songs...but almost all of them stand on their own as good tracks. "Prisoner", "Jupiter", "No Control", "Rub a Dub", etc. They are all different sounding songs, but on this album, this fit in and stand tall.

4. This album contains three of the most beloved songs in the history of 311: "Beautiful Disaster", "Use of Time", and "Stealing Happy Hours".

As stated earlier, this is probably not the best place for a new fan of 311 to start. Since I'm not a fan of Hits Collections, the place to start is either 311 or FROM CHAOS...but once you're in, this album will more than likely be in your CD player the most amount of time.
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