"Something out of Nothing" marks yet another self-astounded testimonial to the creative process. Basically, it's 311 saying "Wow, one minute we're just a bunch of dudes fooling around with guitars and stuff, and the next some sort of song has formed out of the chaos, I would have never expected this when we started playing! It's like some kind of Male Magic!" But the lyrics don't state things that clearly, because 311 always designates at least one song per album to be a jump-off point for "whoa, have you ever thought about, like, the cosmos, man?!" stoner philosophizing:

  • It's creativity/the supernatural thing that happens between you and me
  • It's magic/something out of nothing/the paranormal became normal
  • We are mysterious things/eternal, perpetual, unending/we are the Yin and the Yang/the ending, the middle, and the Big Bang

When they're not trying to seduce music itself or congratulating themselves for the miraculous conception of a shitty song, 311 masquerades as a hard-rock act. In last week's Anti-Flag article, I referenced how punk bands that have sissified with age always include one short, fast song to show longtime fans they've still "got it." 311 tries to achieve this effect with "Jackpot," an "old-school" rap-rock shitfest, but Hexum drains the energy by sounding just as expressionless when he's saying "get up, everybody jump" as he does when he's crooning about his singing heart.

Let's see you 'let go of regret' about this tattoo in about 5 years."Jackpot" does provoke a visceral reaction, though -- raucous laughter. Try not to scoff at the "Jackpot, ugh!" that starts the verse around the 25-second mark, or the rapping (I'm a nomad/and all the boys and girls know the noise is rad) or the chorus ("All the people say/whoa-whoa-whoa"). It's pretty much a perfect parody of rap-rock, except the band is serious about it, and fans think it's not only a good song but also a kick-ass example of hard-rock heaviness.

During "India Ink," the album's other lame approximation of sludge, Hexum sings "I'd carve your name in my arm." Given how many of the group's pathetically devoted fans already have ghastly fucking tattoos, they shouldn't be giving these idiots any new ideas for self-defacement.

While in the studio with producer Bob Rock (A Simple Plan, St. Anger), Hexum said "this is the heaviest 311 has ever been." This might be depressingly true. For an inverted version of this dubious achievement, imagine a 400-pound lardboat pronouncing "this is the lightest I've been in years," as congealed tears of joy ooze down his cheeks. Perhaps bright-side quotes like that are just part of 311's "positivity" campaign, as tattooed on this gorilla's back.

– Andrew "Garbage Day" Miller

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