‘Cause honey, they sure as hell ain’t as good as Led Zeppelin. But yes, your eyes do not deceive you, I am mentioning them in the same sentence.
I heard an amazing story about Led Zeppelin by way of the first two sentences of the book LZ ’75, that in their embryonic days they totally truncated their own relationship with the press, and that this explains all the bad reviews they got. Case in point, NO one employs changes in tempo or textural ephemerality like they used to (I was just listening to III, talking about “Gallows Pole” in particular)… it took some Zeppelin to put me in the mood for Weiland’s new band; Stone Temple Pilots had covered “Dancing Days” on the Family Values comp. after the lead singer had screamed “Fu** nu metal!” to the crowd.
It was a ploy for morality, all along. It was a call for morality, a heightened, assured sense that everything the person’s doing is right and righteous, that has spawned hipsters.
That one dude in the Coney Island Baby liner notes said something about this: well, actually he’s quoting Lou Reed, but it’s hard for the naked ear to actually hear what Lou Reed’s saying, so we rely on this guy’s quote: “You gotta let the other team have the ball a little bit, in football, at least.” I think that would explain the whole PBR thing. It’s a reversion to a moral shirking of superiority, in what they perceive as a ballooned craft beer industry. So it all comes back to a sort of median behavior, after all.
And let’s face it, we do live in a crazy country. When our commander-in-chief behaves recklessly, the hipsters follow suit, by designing those mopads with no brakes on them, or whatever.
The negative reaction to hipsters has to do with the fact that they’re basically the grey masses. But any examination of them, pretty much, yields the conclusion that at least they mean well. There’s no escaping the grey masses, they’re like the people who would have binged and purged in ancient Roman times, or exhibited knife violence at those purportedly holy gatherings during the dark ages, right before the bubonic plague.
Sonically, Blaster compares to No. 4, which nobody would have told you was a good thing in 1999, and everybody would tell you is a good thing in 2015. But don’t fret, the evidence that Weiland has aged is there, if not visibly by the look of his face, at least by “Youth Quake,” by which point in the album, after the sole, obligatory hapless ballad “Blue Eyes,” the songs start to bleed together and the album is one entire anthemic statement, and one of the songs has the head-scratchingly gleeful “La la la” section that’s totally goofy like a Marcy Playground moment or something. But it all gets back to that ROCK. Weiland must have known he’d have this to fall back on, all along.
If I have one complaint regarding the fact that it’s not exactly the PILOTS, it’s that their ostensible session drummer is craved at times here when this dude exerts these unneeded “punk” fidgets — excessive fills, Ramones-type beats (PLEASE DON’T REMIND ME OF THAT VELVET REVOLVER VIDEO WHEN WEILAND WAS WEARING THAT RAMONES T-SHIRT).
I never got the Ramones, never decided what they were all about, never cared. With Scott Weiland, I know. He doesn’t want his “sugar” to lie to him, he wants to get married and settle down. It’s understandable music, it’s ROCK AND ROLL, it had to be made or else the smack addict singing it would have reverted even deeper, it’s not some cultural, posturing crap.
Weiland deliberately ignores all aspects of culture, and it takes the golden boy producer Rick Parker (who doesn’t really get in the way TOO much) to even denote that this is music that has followed Simple Plan, Newfound Glory and Fallout Boy, with the noodling and compression that informs the intro to “Bleed out,” which nonetheless progresses to represent one of the album’s finer cuts.
If I could sum up the effect of the godhead catalyst in the middle that is Scott Weiland, it’s for one, endorsing that hilariously heavy, unpalatable guitar sound wielded on No. 4 tracks like “Down” and “Heaven and Hot Rods”… but more than that even just understanding not only the acceptability of such extremes as juxtaposing this with the Blitzen Trapper type ukelele closeur “Circles,” but their indispensability. Extremes govern us every day, whether they be night and day, male and female, on antidepressants or off… they are an inescapable motif of our everyday lives… rock fans don’t want to know that you’re perfect. They want to know that you like to party. Naked. Just kidding.
Anyway, in order to humor some composite as to whether hipsters will cotton on to Blaster (if they haven’t already), it’s necessary to examine what other rock albums have come out this year. To be honest, it’s been pretty dilute, 2015 thus far dominated by the hip-hop of Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt and Raekwon. There’s a new My Morning Jacket, but who would be interested in them after that youth group singalong Circuital? There’s the Steve Earle, which I rank about with this Weiland, but that dude sounds every bit his age, though it is somewhat of an unexpected artistic direction. And trust me, Lower Dens’ last album was way better, Nootropics. Cokemachineglow.com is covering nothing but non-visceral folk, essentially. In other words, THE CUPBOARD IS BARE.
It’s also necessary to examine the artistic climate in 1999, when No. 4 came out. Simply put, NOTHING could have appeased us, that year. It had been the decade of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” and Everclear’s “Everything to Everyone.” And truly, Stone Temple Pilots had always been a sort of doormat, partly warranted and partly not, a sort of middleweight borne in an extremely competitive time in rock and roll. Compared unduly to Pearl Jam, I thought they more mimicked Nirvana on “Creep,” and Metallica on the rest of Core, before pretty much changing their entire identity for their very next album Purple, which became their best, catchiest, most palatable.
So when No. 4 came out, it was like, oh god, another STP album, who cares, and truly that album was just indulgent enough that people continued to say, oh, who cares, upon listening to it, not really noticing all the character laced into the songs’ anatomies, ballads like “Glide” or back-against-the-wall rockers like “No Way out.”
Shangri-La-Dee-Da was pretty much a total failure, this in the opinion of at the time a rabid STP fan, a fan of all their albums up to that point, so what I’m happy to observe with Blaster is a return to blues-rock in the vein of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and an evasion of ballads (Shangri-La-Dee-Da was utterly drenched with unlistenable, sappy ballads). Think of Stone Temple Pilots as the makeup album, it was listenable and made up for that prior disaster.
But I think Led Zeppelin’s live album How the West Was Won played a big part in Weiland’s much overdue artistic resurgence. Well, check that… it was in 2001 when Weiland exclaimed “Fu** nu metal!” at their Family Values show before going into a cover of “Dancing Days.”
Long story short: this guy is more shrewd, and more rocking, than a lot of us thought… just consider Blaster the spade he had in his back pocket all along. And it may get bashed by critics, like Black Rebel Motorcycle’s album Baby 81 did which adhered closely to feedback-laden blues rock, but we’ve had a very effeminate, androgynous half-decade here in pop, with Beach House, Lower Dens and Julia Holter ruling the realm, and even The Entrance Band sort of having a faint camp element to them… we’re all due for a little ear drum bleeding. And not to say that Weiland is the BEST guy to deliver such physical abuse to us… he’s just the guy who did.