Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: March 31st, 2015, via Softdrive Records
Former Stone Temple Pilots frontman, Scott Weiland, is back with a new solo album, Blaster! This time, the singer is backed by his new band, The Wildabouts, who have spent the last year, touring with him on and off. Already, Blaster is plagued with the loss of the Wildabouts guitarist, Jeremy Brown. Brown, who has played with Weiland for over seven years, passed away of undisclosed causes on March 30th, a day before the anticipated release of Blaster. This is the first album of original music from Weiland since STP’s successful comeback album, Stone Temple Pilots in 2010, and his previous solo effort, the highly experimental, Happy In Galoshes, of 2008. Since then, however, he has released a cover album of artists who have inspired him, titled, A Compilation of Scott Weiland Cover Songs, as well as a Christmas record, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, which were both released in 2011, as well as his well-written memoir, Not Dead And Not For Sale. A lot has changed since then for Weiland, being booted out of STP and all, so with a new band, and a new, cleaned up Weiland, how does Blaster stand up beside his classic records with Stone Temple Pilots and his previous solo works?
Right off the bat, Blaster stands out amongst Weiland’s previous solo albums. Unlike 12 Bar Blues and Happy In Galoshes, Blaster is not an artsy, experimental record. Weiland described it as “[it has] a band sound: a stripped down, furry sound with a lot of space between the notes. It’s tight and to-the-point while keeping that guitar rock vibe… The sound we were getting felt original and infectious and brought me back to the feelings I had when I made my first couple records. Just excitement, feeling invigorated. Youthful.” This statement stands true, especially for the ferocious opening number, “Modzilla” with a powerful, distorted guitar riff, a driving chorus, and edgy, melodic vocals from Weiland. The introduction and verses in “Way She Moves” features two guitars ever constantly weaving between each other, blurring the lines between the lead and rhythm parts makes for a very interesting song, reminiscent of the guitar interplay between Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, in the early 70’s. “White Lightning” is one of Weiland’s most gritty songs in his entire career, rolling through a grungy, bluesy shuffle and the following track, “Blue Eyes”, continues Weiland’s tradition of creating a sweet love song, both sonically and lyrically. If those four examples alone don’t sound “invigorated” and “youthful” then I don’t know what does.
From front to back, there is not a bad moment on the album. From the primal drums of “Youth Quake”, the electrifying guitar solo on “Bleed Out” to the softer tunes like the surf rock vibe of “Beach Pop” and the acoustic closing tune, “Circles”, Blaster is clearly an album propelled by all eras of American rock. Certain inspirations are more general; like the controlled energy of the 70’s New York punk scene, or the grungy alternative rock roots Weiland would help pioneer in the 90’s with Stone Temple Pilots, while other inspirations are very specific, like the clear connections to past artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Iggy And The Stooges, and T. Rex (as covered on “20th Century Boy”. Blaster, while clearly inspired, is a very unique effort, capturing such strong vibes from the past, while still remaining modern, a rare feat for many current rock records. Even rarer, Blaster covers so much ground stylistically, but unlike many other albums, it is not lost and directionless in its own ambition, but rather highly enjoyable.
Acting as a departure from the soft, experimental tones associated with Weiland’s previous solo works, Blaster stands out as a rock record, reminiscent of classic his 1970’s roots, and Weiland’s early albums with Stone Temple Pilots throughout the 1990’s. Although not as ground breaking as such STP records like Core, Purple, and No. 4, Blaster is a great addition to Weiland’s expansive discography and is without a doubt the best of his previous solo albums. This record has exceeded my high hopes; delivering excellent song writing, unique riffs, tasteful solos, and such textures one craves when listening to a hard hitting record: a crunchy Les Paul, a tight rhythm section, and Weiland’s smooth but highly juxtaposing rough voice leading the way through forty-five minutes of solid rock. Blaster is just the record Scott Weiland needs to bring in a fresh and creative solo comeback era into modern rock; ultimately leaving fans, new and old, looking forward to the singer’s next ventures
Scott Weiland And The Wildabouts will be at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club in Toronto on May 7th.
2: Way She Moves
3: Hotel Rio
5: White Lightning
6: Blue Eyes
7: Bleed Out
8: Youth Quake
9: Beach Pop
11: 20th Century Boy