Scott Weiland has taken a lot of shit lately. From people accusing him of still being on drugs to his undeniably bad live performance that surfaced last week, it seems the veteran singer can’t catch a break. But this article isn’t a review on the life of the former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman. It’s a review of his new band The Wildabouts, their new album Blaster and how it holds up compared to other contemporary bands, and yes there may be some comparisons to Scott’s previous bands.
Scott Weiland has never been one of my favourite singers. I mean I’m a big Stone Temple Pilots fan and an even bigger Velvet Revolver fan, but it was never because I found Scott to be a great vocalist. I found him to be a good vocalist backed by great musicians, and Scott always had a way with coming up with good melodies when the time called for it. Interstate Love Song remains one of my favourite songs of all time for that reason. So before listening to Blaster I knew my opinion on it would be based on whether or not The Wildabouts are a good enough backing band.
With Stone Temple Pilots, it was the DeLeo brothers uniquely simple yet catchy and crunchy rhythms that made STP the best grunge band that wasn’t from Seattle. Down is an immediate song that comes to mind. So when Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts start Blaster with Modzilla, what would end up being the grungiest song on the album, I found that to be a pretty bold statement. Jeremy Brown (who sadly passed away the day Blaster was released) summons is best Dean DeLeo on this sludgy track, and you know, he doesn’t do a bad job. It helps that Scott has that charisma to his singing similar to what you may hear on songs like Velvet Revolver‘s Slither present on this track which creates hope that Blaster may in fact be more than just an album worth giving a listen to.
After Modzilla is array of many rock songs in styles that differ just enough from each other. Some I feel make Blaster a contending album to others released this year, such as the alternative/punky Bleed Out, the upbeat Way She Moves and the jumpy yet serious sounding Hotel Rio, while there are some questionable rockers such as Youth Quake. Actually Youth Quake is a complicated example because I like it, but I feel Scott Weiland could have given more effort towards his delivery of the vocals, except the chorus. That’s where he really lets it loose. But when listening to the heavy White Lightning the fast Amethyst or the sleazy Parachute, I tend to forget about the worst parts of Blaster and think more toward the positives.
Personally my least favourite of the album is Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts‘ cover of T-Rex‘s 20th Century Boy. Funny enough it has some of Scott’s most inspiring vocal deliveries on the whole album, but I just can’t get in to the song, nor could I ever get in to the original version of Def Leppard‘s cover of it. The Wildabouts don’t do much to change the song to make it their own either, and stay true to the original which doesn’t help my opinion of it.
Scott Weiland has had some terrific slower songs in his career. Be it something depressing like STP’s Creep or passionate like Velvet Revolver‘s Fall to Pieces, or full of emotion like the latter band’s Loving the Alien, so you just know The Wildabouts have at least one softer song on Blaster. In fact there are three. I say three counting Beach Pop which is hard to classify as anything other than a neo-fifties beach rock song, which is pretty good and catchy, but it would be better if Scott sounded like he were trying a little more. Regardless I love the song. Blue Eyes is without a doubt my favourite song on the album. It has everything I love in a Scott Weiland sung slower song. It’s not a ballad, but it’s definitely a love song. It’s got so much power to it while having so much emotion at the same time. It’s just a terrific tune. The last of the softer songs on Blaster is its closing track Circles. I’m not too crazy about Circles because I feel it’s a cheap attempt at a folk pop song that I feel lacks anything really organic from a vocal standpoint. Superior to the vocals is the music, which incorporates country influences quite well to make for a well written song.
The Wildabouts aren’t the DeLeo brothers, nor are they comparable to former members of Guns N’ Roses, but I feel Scott Weiland has a good band behind him on Blaster. The main shortcomings from the album do come from Scott’s occasional lack of effort in his vocal delivery, and his lyrics have waned a bit compared to his more successful days which makes this seem like a different Scott Weiland. Some of the songs are really good, yet some are forgettable. What saves Blaster is that its best songs are good enough for me to recommend the album as well over half the album is worth a listen. Even the bad sons aren’t actually bad, just less than what I expect, including Beach Pop, which I said I feel Scott isn’t giving much effort in his delivery, is something I consider to be a pretty awesome song. In the end, Blaster is no Core or Contraband, but it shouldn’t be a disappointment for Scott Weiland fans, and I can even see new listeners to the vocalist possibly finding the album to be a diamond in the rough.
“Modzilla” – The choice was hard, but really it was right in front of my face all along. Not only is it the best of the hard rocking tracks on the album but it does the best job at showing where Scott Weiland is now, trying to prove he’s still relevant while not forgetting the past that has made him so successful in the first place.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|2.||“Way She Moves”||4:11|
|11.||“20th Century Boy”||4:20|