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.
on August 2, 2003
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
on January 1, 2014
With a stunning 21 track length, 311's fourth full-length CD not only pushes the limits of the format but also exhausts just about each and every possible creative avenue. Recorded during the band's prime, "Transistor" is perhaps the best example of all 311 are capable of. Themes of happiness and depravity are explored, while the band's trademark funky hard-rocking sound is pushed and pulled in every direction.
Sounds Like: 311 cranked up to 11.
- The album is mostly self-produced, but you wouldn't know it from the considerable polish given to each every song.
- Even though the album is a bit long, there are no tracks that feel extraneous.
- The band taps into some spacey, atmospheric elements never heard on a 311 album before (or after, really) giving the album its own distinct style and flavor amongst a vast discography that at times can be admittedly a bit samey.
- The length of the album can make it tough to digest in one sitting. Really, they could have broken this up into two albums (or a double-album, for that matter).
- "Beautiful Disaster" remains one of the band's darkest tracks, showing that the band has more range beyond the happy-go-lucky vibes of their previous work.
- "Stealing Happy Hours" is a great example of the band merging their classic style with the more atmospheric nature of the album.
- "Borders" and "What Was I Thinking?" are among the band's heavier tracks and keep things pumping along at a nice pace.
Best Listened To When: You have over an hour to kill.
Personally: This remains one of my favorite 311 albums. Second only to "Grassroots" (which is a perfect 311 album from front to back), "Transistor" is 311 at their most versatile and it's one of the few in their whole output that I can still return to after all these years frequently.
The Bottom Line(s): While its considerable length can be a bit of a challenge, it can't be denied that the band didn't put their best foot forward and put everything they had into the creation of this album. "Transistor" sounds remarkably fresh for an album that is nearly 17 years old. Maybe it's not the first 311 album you should buy, but you should make a point to hear it at least once.
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.
on April 15, 2015
There is no doubt the core alt/funk/dub rock style 311 established in the late 80s/early 90s, which allowed them to cross over later in the decade with their eponymous release, sold and continues to sell records. With such a solid formula, it's hard to fault the band for staying so close to their roots over almost 30 years.
This is why Transistor, as an experimental/progressive record, stands out.
It's an earnest effort, the band genuinely pushing themselves sonically as far as they've ever been. This isn't to say it doesn't sound like 311 -- "Transistor", the title track, features classic Martinez-Hexum interplay (although that MO is not the album's dominant form), "Beautiful Disaster" is standard 311 fare, and Chad Sexton's iconic snare tone serves to drive but also remind throughout. However, it's some of the experimental and progressive tunes that truly stand out -- "Inner Light Spectrum", "Use of Time", "Continuous Life", "Creature Feature" and "Stealing Happy Hours" are all uniquely rewarding.
Clocking in at 21 tracks spread over 67 minutes, the album is not without a couple missteps: "Electricity", "What Was I Thinking", and "Galaxy" all miss the mark. These are largely overlooked given the number of quality tracks, and please remember this is 311, not Radiohead.
This is my favorite 311 album, one I return to often even 20 years after its release.
on November 17, 2015
I, like most of the world, discovered these guys in the wake of their self-titled smash, so this was the first new album to come along when the fandom was red hot. I distinctly remember the first time I heard "Transistor" the lead single on the radio, excitably recognizing it as 311 along with the thought, 'And they sound GOOD.' Nostalgic digressions aside, this is 311's finest artistic hour. The debut Music contains their strongest collection of songs, Grassroots is a band fully and confidently coming into its own, the self-titled a perfect coalescing of their sound, but Transistor deserves special recognition for a number of reasons. 1)They didn't cash in on the success of Blue by trying to duplicate its sound. For an album that would end up going triple platinum, this is truly remarkable and impressive. 2)There's an incredibly cohesive flow on display here. 21 tracks, and not one I feel the urge to skip. 3)They were peaking as musicians. The fusion of styles are all expertly played, and nothing sounds forced. 4)It's by far their most immersive listening experience, due no doubt to tasteful production that's aged gracefully. I could go on to note how SA never sounded better than he does here (Galaxy! The Continuous Life!), the killer riffage of the OPENING hidden track, the ambient spacey sound effects laced throughout which add just the right touch, etc. Transistor is gold, the anomaly of an aesthetically rich and varied discography. It isn't the first I'd recommend to a curious newbie, but it's the favorite of many of their biggest fans for a reason!