Stone Temple Pilots: Stone Temple Pilots

RIYL: Pearl Jam, Incubus, Silversun Pickups

The new album from Stone Temple Pilots represents a rare throwback in more ways than one. The album’s vibrant sound is a bit of a flashback in how it recalls the early ’90s heyday of grunge. But the fact that it’s a major label release with full publicity push from Atlantic Records is another throwback – such releases are increasingly rare these days, with more and more bands opting for the indie route. But STP came out of the 20th century’s last significant musical revolution, so it seems fitting somehow.

The album definitively reasserts the band’s status as one of the best in rock. It mixes up hard rock with hooky melodic power-pop and a sonic majesty that should please any longtime fan, while also winning new ones. It’s the band’s most diverse collection of tunes yet, demonstrating an unwillingness to play it safe. Lead singles “Between the Lines” and “Take a Load Off” mine that classic STP sound – hard rock with a groove that makes you wanna move. Dean DeLeo is one of the best guitarists of his generation, while brother Robert on bass and Eric Kretz on drums make one of the tightest rhythm sections around. Scott Weiland’s distinctive vocals catalyze the tunes in a way that he could only do in hit-and-miss fashion with Velvet Revolver.


“Huckleberry Crumble” stirs things up a bit with a swaggering ’70s groove that recalls classic Aerosmith, and some melty wah-wah from Dean DeLeo. “Dare if You Dare” and “Cinnamon” bring in a heavy ’60s influence, with a swirl of psychedelia and Beatle-esque melody mixed into a modern rock stew for a couple of tasty sonic treats. The bright and uplifting sound of “Cinnamon” is a hit single in waiting, but the song still brings more rock flair than most of what you’ll hear on pop radio.

Another highlight is “Hazy Daze,” which opens with with one of the DeLeo brothers’ best grooves, power trio riff rock at its finest. Robert’s dynamic bass line makes the groove really stand out and Weiland’s vocals surf effortlessly on top for an instant STP classic. Then there’s “First Kiss on Mars,” a melodic gem with a laid back vibe and Bowie-esque vocal. The song highlights the unique range of both Weiland’s voice and the band’s overall sonic character, both of which make STP far more than just another hard rock band. “Maver” is another unique tune, with an R&B vibe that shows a band willing to stretch out and not rest on its laurels. “Bagman” is another great rocker, with a fat groove and a restrained but tasty guitar solo, while “Peacoat” digs into some funky, bluesy riffage and features a guitar solo that sizzles. “Fast As I Can” is an appropriately titled up-tempo flyer with a down and dirty vibe that recalls Guns ‘n’ Roses, and a deliciously twangy solo from Dean.

Critics have long slammed the band for being derivative of the grunge peers that preceded them (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains), and some still do. A friend used to kid me that the band should be called Stone Pearl Garden. But the fact that STP blew up on the heels of those bands’ success doesn’t diminish the fact that this was and is a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll band. If they weren’t, legends like the Doors’ Robbie Krieger wouldn’t be sitting in with them (as he did for a smoking “Roadhouse Blues” at SXSW.) This album is a triumphant comeback for STP and almost surely one of the top 10 rock albums of 2010. If Weiland can stay clean, it should herald a new peak era for the band. (Atlantic 2010)

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