Stone Temple Pilots: Stone Temple Pilots

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Artist: Stone Temple Pilots

Title: Stone Temple Pilots
Release date: May 25
Label: Atlantic

Were you clamoring for a new Stone Temple Pilots record? Was anyone? I know I wasn't. Sure, STP, hit the road as an oldies act, play the hits at a few state fairs, and grab an easy paycheck. Who could blame you for cashing in as a nostalgia act nearly two decades after were you a viable commercial and creative entity?

But make a new record? To me, that's asking for trouble, because: a) you're gonna wanna play some new tunes at shows where drunken Gen Xers don't wanna hear new tunes; b) more than a handful of people will buy this record hoping for the sound of the band they loved in 1994, and will inevitably be disappointed; c) now that you're a working band again, the records you make from here on out had better be damn good or they will being to weigh down the legacy of the hit music you made during the Clinton years.

I've never been a big fan of Stone Temple Pilots. When they were making hits, I was knee-deep into indie bands like Yo La Tengo and Rocket from the Crypt and Urge Overkill. However, I thought STP was more palatable than its alt-rock contemporaries, like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam (oh, hell, just about grunge band, actually), and fake punk bands like Green Day and Offspring.

I thought STP at least had a pretty good pop sensibility under that wall-of-guitar sound. And that knack for pop really shows itself on the new STP record. There are plenty of nods to The Beatles and Beatles acolytes Cheap Trick. In fact, as I was listening to Stone Temple Pilots, I thought to myself, "This sounds a lot like that Cheap Trick record that came out in 2009, which actually wasn't that bad."

Fans of vintage STP may be shocked that former rock 'n' roll bad boy Scott Weiland doesn't really sound a whole lot like the Scott Weiland we all know and (some of us) love. That will undoubtedly disappoint many fans. I think it's an upgrade. Then, he sounded like 1993 (hence, becoming dated almost instantly) and now he just sounds like a good power-pop and rock singer. Not as distinctive, to be sure, but simply a better vocalist. 

And not surprisingly, Weiland is singing a lot about his to-hell-and-back journey. Let's face it, he'll be mining that topic for the rest of his career. But in album opener, "Between the Lines," Weiland sings, "Penguins don't fly / Crocodile Sunday smile / Really love to fish, but don't like superficial people," and it's indicative of the devil-may-care tone of the record. These guys seem to know the pressure's off and are having a good time making music again.
Best song: The Bowie-esque "First Kiss on Mars"
Rotation: Low-medium
Deja Vu: A bar band that actually tasted the big time.
I'd rather listen to: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' latest record.
Grade: C+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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