For their first studio album in nine years, Stone Temple Pilots wear their classic-rock passions like badges, delivering 12 songs that prove the band has always had David Bowie and Bad Company running through their veins. But the difference on Stone Temple Pilots is the band's outlook and the resulting disc is the most focused since 1992's Core. "'Take a Load Off' is good mid-tempo-crunch advice from a singer who spent STP's biggest hits with his head full of black mojo," writes David Fricke in his three-and-a-half star review. "[And] 'Dare If You Dare' has a Seventies solo-John Lennon effect in its electric-piano stroll and Weiland's vocal challenge." Even messier and more distressed tracks like "Huckleberry Crumble" come with bright-turn hooks and a hard-pop charge, Fricke observes. "The sunshine is overdue," he writes. "But it suits them."
Also out today is Bettye LaVette's Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. On her latest effort, the soul singer tackles the British Invasion, offering simmering blues covers of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin," the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" and more. While middling arrangements don't do justice to Lavette's voice, Will Hermes writes in his three star review, "[her] leathery voice and creative phrasing carry the load."
On the reissues front, Hip-O Select takes on Chuck Berry's impressive body of work with Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974. The four-CD collection opens with Berry's least great original song, the 1970 track "Tulane," but goes on to feature covers and live remakes of Berry's earlier classics like "Johnny B. Goode." Highlights include deeper cuts like the studio instrumental "London Berry Blues," which Fricke notes in his three star review, "offers six prime minutes of choked riffs and fluid blues lines with [Berry's] unmistakable tart treble."
Lastly, Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells are releasing their debut Treats, a raucous collection of cheap beats, Funkadelic samples and scorched-earth guitars that call to mind the White Stripes' White Blood Cells and M.I.A.'s Arular. (The group has close ties to the Sri Lankan MC: they're signed to her N.E.E.T. imprint.) In his three-and-a-half star review, Jon Dolan writes, "[Sleigh Bells] keep it hilariously simple: neck-snapping hip-hop beats and blasts of gonzo riffage from producer Derek Miller; bratty, bubbly chant-singing from Alexis Krauss; everything air-raid-siren loud."
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