Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots

It seems that with a band such as Stone Temple Pilots, either you like them or you don't, without much middle ground or indifferent feelings amongst the masses. From the beginning, some have continually dismissed their sound, claiming that they were simply riding on the coattails of Seattle artists including Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. On the other hand, those of us who have been hooked after hearing Core and those songs that have been subsequently stuck in our heads since 1992 have come to love whatever mix of pop-influenced psychedelic grunge that this somewhat dysfunctional family of four have in store for us with each and every album. After countless breakups, solo projects, drug addictions and rehab stints, 2010 finds the original Stone Temple Pilots back with another great, self-titled rock and roll album. If you love them and what they have done in the past, you're in luck. If you have never cared for their sound, chances are you won't find anything mind-blowing here. This is front to back, start to finish a true Stone Temple Pilots record and a great one at that.

With 2010's self-titled album, there is less of the grunge crunch from Core and a lot more attention placed on melody and pop sensibility as with Purple and Tiny Music. Each song is well written with corresponding guitar hooks and vocal lines that are sure to stick in your head as did Stone Temple Pilots' early material. Scott Weiland's voice is both strong and rich, yet not as powerful as it once was. The album's production relies a great deal on layered vocal lines that are placed in all of the right places where the songs need an extra something to get the point across. Both Robert and Dean Deleo provide world class guitar and bass work, with extremely tasteful playing that lays back in the pocket and provides what is appropriate at the all the right times. Eric Kretz has matured a great deal musically on this record, though he has always been a great drummer indeed. This album finds Kretz playing percussive parts that are much more solid and straight forward than what we have heard from him in the past. The album opens with "Between the Lines", one of the albums more straight ahead tracks that features some of Weiland's best lyrical contributions including the line "even when we used to take drugs" repeated over and over again as if he is referring to his substance-filled past with a smattering of tongue-in-cheek humor. "Take a Load Off" and "Dare If You Dare" feature open, celebratory choruses with Weiland's vocals taking the higher octave and are some of the finest moments musically in the entire career thus far for the Pilots. With a nod to the 1970's influence that has always been at the forefront for this band, "Huckleberry Crumble" sounds a lot like early Aerosmith with a strut that would give any classic rock band a run for its money. The new self-titled album also features some light-hearted pop numbers with "Cinnamon" and "First Kiss on Mars" both of which are full of room to breathe with almost airy writing and production techniques that add to the overall delicate beauty of the songs themselves. On a side note, kudos to the Stone Temple Pilots for including some absolutely gorgeous album art from artist Shepard Fairey that is both simple and tasteful, adding to the overall package itself.

All in all, it's great to see that the four original members in the Stone Temple Pilots have what it takes to do what they always have done after all these years. Whether you love them or hate them, they have proven once again that they are indeed a great rock and roll band, no more and no less. -Andrew Bryant

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