29 November 2015

Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts - Blaster

Released March 31, 2015
Soft Drive Records.

No. Title        Length
1. "Modzilla" 3:17
2. "Way She Moves" 4:11
3. "Hotel Rio" 4:36
4. "Amethyst" 4:17
5. "White Lightning" 3:22
6. "Blue Eyes" 3:57
7. "Bleed Out" 2:45
8. "Youth Quake" 3:46
9. "Beach Pop" 3:30
10. "Parachute" 4:29
11. "20th Century Boy" 4:20
12. "Circles" 

Scott Weiland – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards: Associated acts Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, Camp Freddy, The Magnificent Bastards, The Wondergirls, Art of Anarchy.
Tommy Black – bass
Danny Thompson – drum
Jeremy Brown – guitars
Mike Avenaim - drum (tracks 1, 4, 6, 8)
James Iha - guitar (track 6) Associated acts The Smashing Pumpkins, Starchildren, A Perfect Circle, Vanessa and the O's, Tinted Windows, Whiskeytown.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaster_(Scott_Weiland_album)[accessed 29.11.15 1.30p.m]

An interesting project due to the history and CV of lead singer Weiland, I wasn't sure what to expect.
I'm a grunge fan - and yes my best rock clubbing years were the 90's. Just. And the early 00's.
It seems from reading various reviews (Rolling Stones/Consequence of Sound) that this is also thought to be the case for Weiland's work.

I'm not sure I agree. There's this concept that Rock/Grunge/metal whatever- is only relevant when it's by young 'edgy' -and let’s face it-male youths. This is also the time period in which these men are quite vulnerable - no matter what their outward presentation on stage - leather encased and screaming. Self-medication as coping mechanism for stage fright and insecurity/mental illness - can turn into an unfortunately destructive habit.

The reviewers work I may or may not have been reading could be said to reinforce this self-destruction of young musicians by saying -oh I don't know - bullshit like -the raw howls and gritty' whatever’s' are the best and most relevant work.

So consequently you have to be a young, skinny, white male poly substance addict with a potentially untreated mental health condition to encapsulate- no- to emanate an authentic sound??  You ought to be fucking ashamed.

Rant almost over.

I'm listening to the album while I type this - and I can see where some of the criticism could be placed. Not just on the lead singer -which is where most of the armchair warrior critique has been focused- it's a band not a solo project.

Modzilla: It's an excellent start - heavy guitars, catchy riffs and an interesting wah wah seventies sound to the base. The drums are a bit standard rock kit - but they're tight and the pace fits. There's a tiny bit of stones/Bowie to the vocals which works well. This guy's versatility of range and sound is a gift. Pacing suits this track but a change of pace with the solo may have accentuated it.

Way She Moves: I'm in a blues bar knocking back a whisky to this and tapping my fingers on a deeply ingrained wooden table, watching a band from another time knock out some heavy riffs. And I'm pretty happy about it. There's no arty unpredictability about the lyrics, but there is a wistfulness and a sense of experience. Yes these may sound like the type of rhyming couplets a 17 year old writes with his pals who want to be rock and roll - but this guy and the band have lived it-they actually know what it is they are glibly writing about. It's a nice price of retro irony. Very Aunt Betty - particular favourite of mine.

Hotel Rio: very nice chorus - catches you - it works for me. There's a heaviness to it -a solidness- I don't specifically detect the 'fuzziness' stated by another reviewer- instead this is muddy and no doubt deliberate. You don't spend hours in a recording studio placing mics and working on the minutia of each track while accidently producing a sound. It's all well thought out. I'd happily have this on my car iPod. I like the slower ending on this track - gives you a chance to appreciate the layering which isn't immediately apparent initially.

Amethyst: I really like this track. It's at my preferred pace. It has a hint of a Wildheart anthem - but it channels 1970s rock which is fine for me. . It has a wonderful guitar solo. The change back to the main could be a little more distorted/a little less choppy but that's personal preference. Look - sometimes yes - it's nice to get lost in an atmospheric track with imaginative flight of fancy lyrics -but that can also become draining in a way because it access that part of us that needs a refresh from time to time. This type of Rockier glam sludge offering is a wonderful change. You can't appreciate light without having experienced the dark.

White Lightning: This one is a little Queen's of the Stone beat with NIN/Marilyn Mason style vocals - but you can tell its Weiland. He has a throaty Ness which is distinctive.

Blue Eyes: The light to the dark. This guy knows this- he's lived through the crushing dark depression and unimaginable mania. White lightning to Blue eyes appears to embrace a wildness - a chaos - and then moves to a positive hopefulness.  Its forward thinking- there's a future. It would be nice to have had some of the higher end guitar picking come through a little more here other than just at the end.

Bleed Out: I'd happily dance to this in the now closed Newcastle alt club scene. Truth be told I'm a little old now for that - my body has rebelled - particularly my neck. So perhaps a part of me empathises with the fact Weiland is stated to be excited about this project - and the chemistry with the band members. They are quite obviously having fun and this comes through.

Youth Quake: I love Weiland's vocals hear - it taps into the sound I enjoy from him-throaty-quite deep - pretty much like Alice in chains original vocalist. I like the slower pace and the hook - it's gritty and the lyrics don't detract from the overall effect.

Beach Pop: Not too keen on this one. Skip.

Parachute: Ah that's better- definitely back in the groove here. At the start it was promising - some unusual time signatures and melodic dissonance. Then it gets anthemic.

20th Century Boy: A nice cover here. Sounds like Bowie vocals. The base is uber deep and slightly jangly- guitars muddy- drums your regular accompaniment. However I prefer the cover by Placebo.

Circles: It's gone all western - and the gravelly voice is a smooth gentle addition. It's soothing and reminiscent, it's survival.  And to me this album will survive. I also eagerly anticipate the next release.

Favourite Track: Amethyst

Score: 8 out of 10 - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase Blaster on Amazon here

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