Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Greg Schwartz’s picks

It’s been another bad year for the recording industry, but another great year for music fans. Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well, as is the opportunity to see it performed live. Musicians can still make a living, but they have to hit the road and seize modern marketing opportunities. One thing that will never change is the public’s desire to hear great music. Bands that can deliver still have a chance to write their own ticket.

Top 10 lists are of course inherently subjective, and this observer’s faves will always lean toward the guitar-driven rock side of the music spectrum. I was certain that the debut album from the long-awaited Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band would be topping my list this year, especially after the slew of terrific new tunes they delivered in two stellar shows at the New Orleans Jazzfest back in April. But the album isn’t coming out until 2011. Here’s my take on the best albums and songs that were released in 2010.

10. The Henry Clay People: Somewhere on the Golden Coast
This is just an old-fashioned, ’90s-style indie-alternative rock ‘n’ roll album that stands out with its energetic yet down-to-earth sound. No Pro Tools trickery going on here, just a band plugging into their amps and turning up the volume. It’s got loud guitars with melodic hooks, rocking piano and zeitgeist lyrics from singer/guitarist Joey Siara that tap into this modern era of Depression and discontent. “Working Part Time” is one of the great anthems of the year, while “End of an Empire” sounds like an alt-rock prophecy.

9. The Sword: Warp Riders
The Austin, Texas hard rockers deliver a blast from the past that is easily the best metal album to come along in some time. It’s like a cross between Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, which equals metal heaven. It’s chock full of great riffs, furious rhythms and tight metal mayhem with a twist of classic rock flavor.

Read the rest after the jump...

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)

Stone Temple Pilots MySpace page


SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: Stone Temple Pilots

Off to the Austin Music Hall in the warehouse district, where ’90s alternative heroes Stone Temple Pilots were scheduled for a full headlining set. The hall was packed and the band delivered the goods, mixing in strong material from their forthcoming new album with plenty of older classics. “Wicked Garden” sizzled, with vocalist Scott Weiland sounding great and the band firing on all cylinders. “Big Empty,” “Creep,” “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song” all rocked the house. New single “Between the Lines” rocked with the classic STP sound, mixing the hard rock with melodic lyrics, suggesting Weiland’s drug days are finally behind him. A Weiland relapse is the only thing that can stop this band, because the power trio behind Weiland was on fire. Dean DeLeo dazzled on guitar throughout the night, proving a master of grunge guitar, particularly with the tight harmonics. Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz still make a formidable rhythm section, demonstrating STP as a band ready for a second prime. The new “Huckleberry Crumble” was another winner, combining a groovy bass line with psychedelic guitar for something of a ’60s feel, yet with that modern rock twist. “Sex Type Thing” and “Dead and Bloated” shook the rafters to close the set, but the best was still to come.


“We’d like to introduce someone that’s part of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history,” said Weiland at the beginning of the encore as he introduced Robbie Krieger from the Doors. The band then tore into a smoking “Roadhouse Blues,” with Weiland nailing Mr. Mojo Risin’s vocals while the DeLeo brothers and Krieger got off on what may have been the best jam of SXSW 2010. The electrifying performance thrilled the assembled, with this clearly being one of those rare and special moments that you hope to be lucky enough to catch at SXSW. Krieger exited triumphantly to a standing ovation and the band then wrapped it up with one of their best tunes, “Tripping on Hole in a Paper Heart.”


SXSW Music 2010, Day 2: Upping the Ante

AUSTIN – I sacrificed an extra hour of sleep to make it out for what was scheduled as an 11:35 am day party set from Sass Jordan, the sensational Canadian blues rock goddess that seems like she’d be more from a place like Austin. But the stage at the club had collapsed and they had to move to another venue, pushing their set back to 12:20 pm. I told Sass I’d catch one of her other two shows, because I had a moral imperative to catch the 12:30 pm panel on “Music and The Revolution,” featuring ex-Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, Country Joe McDonald, the MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Kent State 1970 massacre survivor Alan Canfora. This was an amazing panel that I will report on in-depth in my SXSW wrap-up next week (along with more on all the following bands.)

Then there was a great panel on the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ seminal jazz-rock masterpiece, Bitches Brew. More on that next week as well. The 1969-70 revolutionary rock magic was clearly in the air…

After a quick lunch it was over to the Jambase Treehouse Party at Cheers Shot Bar on 6th Street, up on the roof deck. Very nice setting for Red Cortez, a band out of Los Angeles that are pals and tourmates with the Airborne Toxic Event. They have an edgier sound, but clearly some of that same soulful, tuneful indie-rock thing that has long been brewing in LA’s Silverlake district.

The Mother Hips from San Francisco rocked it next, throwing down a hot set of their rich, melodic and bluesy sound. Paul Hoagland even brought his 12-string custom Hamer bass, and did it ever sound great out in the sun in the 5 o’clock hour. I was originally planning to stick around to see a couple more bands, but some gear issues had pushed it all back a half hour. I rode my trusty Trek 800 over to Threadgills to meet a friend, where we also heard a bit of Austin legend Roky Erickson, from the 13th Floor Elevators. Classic sounds…

Then it was over to Auditorium Shores, where LA’s Ozomatli was headlining the free outdoor fest by Town Lake. The band entertained a huge audience, driving the crowd into a frenzy with a “Masters of Puppets” tease during one funky bluesy jam (recalling Metallica’s electrifying semi-secret performance at Stubbs during SXSW 2009.)

From there it was over to the Austin Music Hall for Stone Temple Pilots, who threw down a true headlining set of 90 minutes that featured some strong new material and just kept getting better. The peak was during the encore when Robbie Krieger of the Doors joined the band for “Roadhouse Blues”! Absolutely epic SXSW moment that seriously raised the bar for the rest of the weekend. Krieger tore it up.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were up to the task afterward at Antone’s, throwing down a captivating 75-minute set that went right up til 2 am, also featuring very strong material from their impending new album. At least three tunes went into sick jams catalyzed by the fantastic bass skills of new Nocturnal (and former Cardinal of Ryan Adams), Catherine Popper. The two of these gals were just dynamite and a hoped-for cover of “White Rabbit” did indeed materialize (they play it on the soundtrack for the new “Alice in Wonderland” flick), a great match on the evening with “Roadhouse Blues.”

Now I have to go find out when Potter & Co are playing tomorrow and try to get some sleep!


Deep Cuts: Stone Temple Pilots

Written by Bill Clark

Stone Temple Pilots are one of those bands for whom, in hindsight, it’s easy to wonder how they did as well as they did, given the music scene at the time. 1992’s Core landed right smack in the middle of the grunge era, but STP’s sound from the get-go veered more towards hard rock – and fairly catchy hard rock at that. The band always wore its influences on its sleeve; from the Beatles to the Doors to the blues. They were a multi-faceted band, and one that can be even more appreciated when you dig deeper than the 15 Top Ten singles they released during their career. They may not have always been the most original band, but they were immensely talented musicians and performers. The following list is in chronological order and covers all five studio albums.

“Dead & Bloated” – Core
If ever there was a song to start off and set the tone for a debut album, this is it. Beginning with vocalist Scott Weiland singing “I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me / Cause I’m dead and bloated,” the tune shoots into a heavy verse and soaring chorus. It’s an excellent audio personification of STP’s early days.

“Sin” – Core
Trapped between radio hits “Wicked Garden” and “Creep” is “Sin,” one of the most underrated STP tunes out there. It has the kind of intro that leaves you baffled as to where it’s headed, but soon enough it dives into a signature STP verse and an excellent low-end chorus. The acoustic interlude and subsequent explosive guitar solo is a treat that would pave the way for STP’s musical growth.

“Piece of Pie” – Core
Now here’s one rockin’ tune. Guitarists (and brothers) Robert and Dean DeLeo drive this monster home with every palm-muted chord, and Weiland’s expansive vocals compliment it to perfection.

“Meat Plow” – Purple
Talk about another killer opening track. The monstrous opening riff eventually molds with the chorus’ slide guitar (a method STP would go on to use liberally) seamlessly. This is down-and-dirty STP.

To view the rest of the list, click here.