I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Scott Weiland solo album, especially after being unceremoniously ousted from his former band Stone Temple Pilots. He seems to make headlines more often for his personal problems than his music, and with such a musical legacy to measure against, the odds were tilted in favour of disappointment. But to my pleasant surprise, “Blaster” (his first album of original material since 2008) is a very good rock album that will appeal to fans of his Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver days, but should also find favour with rock fans at large.
Listening to the 12 tracks on this record, it’s easy to hear what Weiland brought to these two bands; here, his songwriting style brings an element of familiarity but presented in a new way. The opener, “Modzilla” is a raw rocker backed by a fuzzy guitar riff that shows Weiland hasn’t mellowed out. His vocals are slightly distorted, but it’s not quite the megaphone effect he was so fond of. Songs like the second single “The Way She Moves”, with its rockabilly influenced guitar riffs, or “Blue Eyes” and the ’50s pop-like “Beach Pop” have a nostalgic feel to them that sounds quite genuine. And it’s not surprising to find a retro vibe on this record when you look at the old school ghetto blaster on the cover! He does sound a little restrained at times on the more subdued material, as if he didn’t want to totally give in to the emotions, which is strange considering how intense he can be live, but he’s at his best on the harder material.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Weiland described the songwriting process for “Blaster”, saying that “If you take out the fact that we had to break up the recording process when touring, the album came very easily because of the vibe between the band members. 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.” It’s no surprise then that his band, The Wildabouts, also get top billing.
There are some great songs that should surely be in his live set for years, like “Amethyst” or the first single “White Lightning”, with its simple blues based guitar riff that sounds custom made for the stage. There’s even a cool cover of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy” that, while staying very faithful to the original arrangement, fits Weiland’s voice really well.
This album for me has turned out to be a grower. My initial impression wasn’t that great, and that’s probably because there isn’t a super strong single to hook you in, which we expect from Scott Weiland. (Let’s face it: STP and Velvet Revolver had some great songs) But the album is surprisingly strong throughout, and I like it more and more with each listen. It’s definitely worth the effort to discover it.
|2.||“Way She Moves”||4:11|
|11.||“20th Century Boy”||4:20|
Jean-Frederic Vachon is also the lone music addict behind the Diary of a Music Addict website.