Universal Pulse—311’s tenth studio release—is rife with their signature tasty-waves-and-a-cool-buzz vibe.

Universal Pulse
311 Records/ATO Records

Universal Pulse—311’s tenth studio release—is rife with their signature tasty-waves-and-a-cool-buzz vibe. The Omaha, Nebraska, bunch acknowledges that much of their success and fan base has been built off years of relentless touring, so word is they took to their Hive Studio looking to create stage-ready songs.

With producer Bob Rock onboard again—he also worked on ’09’s UplifterUniversal Pulse’s guitar parts are larger and thicker than life, with articulate crunch, and they even tastefully dip into arena-rock mode during guitarist Tim Mahoney’s harmonized solos in “Rock On.” Mahoney’s gritty, ska-rock riffing on “Time Bomb” and “Wild Nights” creates the familiar head-bobbin’- and-hypnotic vibes that go so well with the good-time rhymes of Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez. The album’s first single, “Sunset in July,” has Mahoney going back to his bag of riff tricks and conjuring a snake-charmer-style intro that hearkens to Transistor’s “Beautiful Disaster.” Its super-simple, groovin’ rhythm and sing-along chorus are classic 311. While the album doesn’t boast any true ballads—something they’ve excelled at on previous recordings—“Trouble” starts with P-Nut laying down a creeping bass line that’s countered by an intoxicatingly barebones distorted guitar riff that carries the song toward upstroke-driven euphoria. And “Count Me In” is a fun-loving jam that has Mahoney using his trusted Mu-Tron III for bubbly tones à la From Chaos’s “Amber.” And the funky arcade-game-like “And a Ways to Go” is driven by a galloping, envelope-filter-treated bass line.

While Universal Pulse has only eight songs, it’s more of the same tasty 311 cocktail—a shot of reggae, a shot of rock, and a garnish of funk—that’s perfect for summertime chillin’, coastline cruisin’, or afternoon grillin’.

Here’s a story about the most interesting man in the world.

“The guitar is my first love, my partner in life. We grew up together and we’ll most likely die together.” —Thom Bresh

One of the best benefits of being a musician is that musicians know musicians, and musicians are the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, Georgia O’Keeffe, the Marx Brothers, Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Juliette Lewis, Jack Black, and Zooey Deschanel are or were musicians, albeit not full-time.

Read MoreShow less

See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

How does a legacy artist stay on top of his game? The pianist, hit singer-songwriter, producer, and composer talks about the importance of musical growth and positive affirmation; his love for angular melodicism; playing jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, jam, and soundtrack music; and collaborating with his favorite guitarists, including Pat Metheny and Jerry Garcia.

Read MoreShow less