Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scott Weiland ~ 12 Bar Blues

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: experimental, rock, alt rock
Label: Atlantic
Year: 1998
Home: California

Members: Scott Weiland ~ lead vocals/beatbox/guitar/keyboard/bass/drum loops

Additional: Tracy Chisolm ~ theremin
Blair Lamb ~ beatbox
Holly Reiger, Jeff Nolan, Zander Schloss ~ guitars
Tony Castaneda, Peter DiStefano ~ guitars/bass
Victor Indrizzo ~ vocals/guitar/keyboards/bass/drums
Martyn LeNoble ~ bass/cello
Michael Weiland ~ drums/drum loops
Suzie Katayama ~ cello
Novi Novog, Joel Derouin, Robin Lorentz ~ violin

Guests: Sheryl Crow ~ accordion
Brad Mehldau ~ piano
Daniel Lanois ~ synthesizers


For those who enjoyed discovering the Stone Temple Pilots as they conquered MTV & then followed frontman SW through to Velvet Revolver, this first solo album will come as a bit of a shock. Actually, a big shock probably for all but a few songs or those who are big fans & have really dug into the world of SW outside of the Billboard hits. For its unassuming title this is everything but unassuming. It's alienating. It's really not for the casual STP or Revolver fan. It's pretty much not what most fans were expecting ... in the same way that the average Pearl Jam fan wasn't expecting Eddie Vedder to do a ukelele album. Though completely different albums they both hit one on on the side of the head as they seemingly come out of a vaccuum where Pearl Jam or STP don't exist. Though, while Vedder crafted an sparse relaxing album SW put together a heavily layered trip-hop or Primal Scream-esque cornucopia, in the true musical sense of the word, that's full of pain, angst & lacking in comfort for him or the listener. It's soft, it's hard, it's tongue-in-cheek, it's all at once. It's pleasure in pain & pain in pleasure. One album of similiar feel in terms of difficulty is the Smashing Pumpkins Machina II as both albums largely comes across as artist experiments in musical & mental expansion. One might also talk about Public Image Ltd, later Primal Scream or Chris Cornell's Scream with the same tones as all of these are about creating something new with good & bad results. I was jamming with Billy Ficca of legendary CBGB's band Television recently & he said he entered the band wanting to create "new beats". Decades later SW is looking through similiar glasses to create "new music" in a world where such a thing seems surely impossible. SW was at the peak of drug addiction when he crafted 12 Bar Blues & its constant switching from style to style is witness of his distorted focus. It's almost as if SW is trying to encompass everything he's done before, though sans the unified band feeling, while throwing in all sorts of DJ stylings & anything else that he happens across in his record collection that strikes his fancy. The move from one song to another can be as jolting as going to sleep in China & waking up in Nebraska, while the within the song moods might change making for at times difficult listens as the flow sometimes lasts just long enough to fool the listener. An acoustic piano bossa nova dance that would find comfort on a Barry Manilow release (i.e. "Divider") rests against acoustic cracked country (i.e. "Where's The Man", "Cool Kiss") in turn pushing against trip-hop (i.e. "Desperation #5, "Mockingbird Girl") & something that features the sound of machine gears better suited to Nine Inch Nails or U2's Pop (i.e. "About Nothing") & a lost track from Roger Taylor of Queen's solo work (i.e. "Opposite Octave Reaction") while out of nowhere comes a symphonic orchestra (i.e. "Barbarella")& a more than obvious imitation of Tom Waits right down to the vocals (i.e. "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down"). The experiments are of such a range that some listeners will gravitate to some songs & not others more so than what happens with a normal album. The result is either going to make friends or enemies. Those looking for STP will probably walk away feeling cheated. Where did their SW go? The key will really be in what the listener takes to this. Repeated listens is a mandatory step before making any judgment call good or bad, whoever the musician is. Through all my work I've found that on first listen one is shocked by an album as the sounds are heard for the first time, good or bad, meeting expectations or not, but on second listen the true feeling of the album sets in & it's true quality starts to come out. That test will be proven true here. Honestly I can say that on second listen songs that didn't hit me on the first listen are now much more interesting in terms of the big picture, let alone the shock of the careening styles isn't so disorienting. One can listen better when not being shocked. One may not end up liking SW's efforts but it's hard not to give it some kudos for its level of experimentation. It's really no different than what the Beatles did on so many later albums such as Abbey Road or the White Album ... there's even a little bit of George Harrison's Indian moments to close the album. Nobody criticizes the Beatles for putting Indian sitars next to distorted guitars next to soft ballads creating an awkward experimental flow. Actually, we praise them. Critics didn't praise SW in a world where monotony is the name of the album game. With that in mind this might be a different listen.



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