Stone Temple Pilots are an underrated band. I'm not talking underrated in that they never saw much success, because clearly they did. I mean simply this was a band straight from the ashes of grunge, and for all the great songs and albums, no one really took them seriously. It's a shame too because at their root they were one of the seminal rock acts of the late 90s. Today we talk about their Top Ten songs. Enjoy!
10. Unglued, Purple
For whatever reason, this was one of those songs I didn’t even realize was written by the band until years later. The track itself though starts with a crunch of a guitar section, and Weiland’s trademark squeal/ howl shows itself pretty early, which only helps to build up the energy in the song. Also well positioned are the different tones used in the instrumentation, which helps to create even more layers that you wouldn’t normally find in many straight ahead rock bands. It's for those reasons that “Unglued” opens up our countdown of the Top Ten Stone Temple Pilots songs.
9. Sour Girl, No. 4
When this song first came out, honestly I wasn't a fan. But the tempo, ambience and mixing all lend a hand in making this a song that’s worth a listen. For a band normally known for rock anthems, they demonstrated here they could make mid tempo, tender hearted tracks. Even beyond that though, the creepy music video featuring Buffy the Vampire Slayer perfectly matched the outside the box notions in the track. It’s easy to sing along to also, which certainly helps with it’s popularity.
8. Big Bang Baby, Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop
After the successes of their first few albums, the band really smashed big with this unorthodox rock album. One of the great aspects of the record is it’s ability to be all the things you loved about the band before, but also adds elements you wouldn’t expect. The track always makes me feel like a mod squad member from decades earlier, but at it’s heart it’s full of just enough pizazz and bang that it fits nicely in the band's catalogue. It’s a rock thumper through and through, and with the help of the DeLeo brothers and Eric Kretz, the full band is able to churn out another solid gold hit that would keep their momentum going,
7. Pruno, No. 4
While many of their albums were regularly played in my life, this was my first taste of being really pleasantly surprised by the group. “Pruno,” has all the intensity of their earlier material, but with this song and the “No. 4” album as a whole the band was able to assert themselves once again as one of the dominant bands in the alternative rock genre. This track whirls and dives and soars again over and over throughout it’s duration, but the real MVP here is Weiland’s vocals. Like any great frontman and vocalist, he’s able to give more nuanced vibes when needed but can just as quickly turn it around into wild, energetic howls. Not a song that gets mentioned much, but certainly one that should be.
6. Sex Type Thing, Core
Among the first record, hit after hit emerged, and among the biggest one’s, this track certainly stands out as memorable. “Sex Type Thing” is a violent reaction to a difficult situation, both in terms of musicality but also lyricism. Weiland is a man possessed here, and with the helping in the drum section, the band is able to rock out in a way that many others during the time simply couldn’t compete with. This track would obviously go on to become a huge hit for the band, and would help them to quickly go from a no name but promising group, but to headlining huge concerts and festivals for many years to come.
5. Crackerman, Core
One of the best and earliest experiences seeing bands came when I saw STP headline Voodoo Fest. I was with my dad, and while we weren’t together during the band’s closing set, we both walked away in awe of the great rock show we just witnessed. Part of that great time was “Crackerman,” which opened the show. The band was all over the stage, and with megaphone in hand, Scott Weiland dominated the crowd. It’s such a great opening track that it’s easy to see how the crowd can get worked into a frenzy fast, but that’s not the only thing that makes this song great. It’s a fast paced, guitar heavy track that pulls you in and won't let you go until enough damage, er, fun has been had.
4. Vasoline, Purple
“Purple” was a giant release for the band, and which songs as tight as this one, it’s not surprising in the least that the record was a hit. “Vasoline,” in at number four on the Top Ten STP songs, has everything that a genuine fan of the band could want. Weiland’s vocals are spot on throughout the nearly three minute song, but there’s more to this song being a success than weiland obviously. The instrumentation and the skill which is brought to the table allows the band to create a beautiful mixture where you can’t make out individual instruments when you need it but also making sure every person in the band is captured in perfect sight and sound.
3. Pretty Penny, Purple
It’s rare that I ever decide to include more than four tracks off the same album, but in this instance I just had to, simply enough. “Pretty Penny” is nestled in among huge hits for the band, but it’s very nearly a perfect track on the album. The change from their usual tempo helps tremendously and really shows the band stretching it’s legs and making some great but out of the ordinary. It’s a relaxing song musically but brings forth some disparaging lyrics to thicken up the plot of the song. Also it’s refreshing to see the band and Weiland specifically toning it down a notch in favor of a track a little more gorgeous and less violent.
2. Big Empty, Purple
From the first time I heard this was in the perfectly constructed “The Crow” soundtrack. It’s truly a magnetic song that fits the themes and atmosphere of the film brilliantly. It also happens to be one of the best songs the foursome ever produced. It has everything you want from a great STP song. Solid guitar rock, drumming that knows when to step back, and of course, heightened yet wearily delivered vocals from Weiland. At number two on the Top Ten STP tracks, “Big Empty,” brings it all together and crafts one of the most popular rock songs of the 90’s
1. Interstate Love Song, Purple
And finally we come to number one. The fifth song to be featured from “Purple,” and also the fourth in a row of solid tracks from said album, “Interstate Love Song” is a song so wonderful and nostalgic that hearing it today brings me joy, even after hundreds of likely listens. The song for me remains a love letter the glory days of the Alternative rock scene, but also a reminder of just how good Stone Temple Pilots were as a unit. The twangy guitar sets the mood, while the bass and drums chase closely behind, the three of them accompanying the rock star of the band to a chorus that’s so easy to sing every should be able to join along in a hurry. It’s not as heavy and flamboyant as other selections on this list, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a quintessential song of the decade, and the band’s best track. Thanks for reading, and sorry for the delay!
Since early 2004, Montreal based Arcade Fire have been overachieving when it comes to making thoughtful, poignant indie rock. In the more than decade since their debut, the band has released four quite different, but excellent albums. Themes of abandonment, loneliness, and recklessness seep through them all. Truth be told, this list was difficult to make, if only because the band has so many worthy songs, but in the end I think it’s a full and complete list. In a relatively short amount of time they’ve established themselves as the premiere band in the realm of indie rock, and today we discuss their Top Ten Songs. Enjoy!
10. Empty Room. the Suburbs
The first thing that comes to your attention on this track is sheer urgency. One could argue the band is most urgent on this record, and when you look at songs like this, it’s hard to disagree. The strings catapult themselves into central vision, but soon Regine’s voice and the wails of make shift sirens swarm over the listener like police bombarding teens on a late night while just having some carefree fun. It’s also surprisingly easy to dance to, and bask in the glory of your youth, knowing full well the best place to be is your room, because as Regine puts it,” When I’m by myself I can be myself.”
9. Normal Person, Reflektor
The band's fourth album, honestly, took me some time to get into. It lacked the emotion that i recognized quickly on the other records, but over time, it made sense not only logically but in a musical way. The band was simply adding layers unseen by the public up until that point. “Normal Person” starts with an ease and reverb that both work well, but as the track sways behind Win’s hushed, slightly whispered voice, all the pieces come together. It has an attitude that’s easy to spot, but it’s not a dick head attitude. It’s the confidence you get from growing from your art, and I suppose being praised by many many people.
8. Modern Man, the Suburbs
One of the best things “The Suburbs” does lies in it’s ability to relate. It’s a record so full of high school nostalgia and resentment that it easily fits into the narrative of what the listener likely experienced. I love this record, because I lived this record. “Modern Man,” which comes in at number eight on the Top Ten Arcade Fire songs, builds on those ideas. We all work and try to do our best, but sometimes, actually most times, it’s not good enough. We’re all taught early on we can be whatever we want, but frankly it’s a bullshit notion passed down from bitter adults who want to see their future as having it better than they did. Sometimes that happens, but sometimes we grow up to be a “Modern Man,” who’s just trying to survive in this jungle called life.
7. Neighborhood #1(Tunnels)
For many, the first taste of what the group was capable of was this track, which opens with a crisp piano melody, swiftly followed by chimes and and church like elements. “Neighborhood #1(Tunnels)” is a song you don’t quickly forget. Part of that is the musicianship sure, but Win’s voice was up to then something unlike anything I had ever heard. It’s honest in a way that nearly every artist in indie rock( Not named Jeff Mangum) had been unable to crack. The mix I think purposely keeps the instruments in the background until the precise moment it needs to be displayed fully, but it works entirely off the strength of Butler’s voice. It’s the opening of their first record, and even after all the times I’ve listened to it, it still brings me a sense of joy to be back in the world of “Funeral.”
6. Month of May, the Suburbs
Easily the most intense, punch in the face song on the list of the Top Ten Arcade Fire Songs, “Month of May,” finds us at number six. It’s always reminded me of an angry version of an Arcade Fire song if surf punks had recorded it. It’s full of folded arms being disobedient, but that only lasts until it’s time to put your fists in the air and chant the “First the built the roads, then they built the town.” That moment is important, but it’s made even more great by the drum beat that precedes its. From the first listen until now, it’s remained a stark example of how different this band can be when the moment calls for it, and that they can in fact write a very intense, gut wrenching track.
5. Rebellion(Lies), Funeral
Everyone by this point should have seen the epic performance of this song at AF’s first Coachella appearance. One could even argue it’s the performance that poised them for the major success that was yet to come. It’s still really incredible. Anyway, the track is one of the last on the all around perfect “Funeral,” and over the course of five minutes and eleven seconds the band proves what’s now clearly obvious, and has been for years. That is simply, that they rock in many ways. The album itself reeks of death and mourning, and on “Rebellion(Lies)” the band drill that concept of life and recklessness into existence. The backing vocals are well placed, as is the powerful yet subtle drumming by Jeremy Gara. The song builds and builds until the climax, and everyone is urged to joyously sing and dance to the “Rebellion” happening all around us.
4. Ready to Start, the Suburbs
Another song in the top five that is largely remembered as part of a landmark, historic performance at Coachella. The third time the band played, finally landing the headlining spot, the encore starts with this track. By this point the balls that had fallen from the stage are turning lights in sync with the music, and of course the crowd loses their mind. The track itself though has this mysterious hue over it, and the energy surrounding the track is dark and foreboding in the best way the band knows how to deliver. Clearly a great song off another nearly perfect album, “Ready to Start” not only stands as a dark reminder of what “The Suburbs” may have in store for us, but it also comes in at number four on the Top Ten Arcade Fire songs.
3. My Body is a Cage, Neon Bible
Win's voice comes out, and the sadness is not only palpable, but it's as if his life depends on getting these emotions out. The whole theme of the album really comes into extremely clear view here too. The choral atmosphere, along with the chamber music and organ makes the song thick. The explosion following this is also a big jolt. This song is ripe for use, and to my knowledge, it's been used perfectly twice in regards to other mediums. First, the trailer for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but more importantly, there's a video of this song being used to compliment the film “Once Upon a Time in the West.” I've still never seen the film, but this combination of music and film is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. It perfectly draws the tension out, and the symbolism in the song, not to mention the dark tone of the film. The key to the power of the song though, is Butler's unique and simply amazing voice, and in the fleeting moments of “Neon Bible,” it's those things that really make the journey of the album worthwhile.
2. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
The choice between number one and two was difficult, but in the end it had to be done. “Sprawl II(Mountains Beyond Mountains)” not only reaches nearly to the top of the pile, but it helps to tie all the themes running rampant on “The Suburbs” into one spectacular and beautiful bow. Regine’s voice again shines through, but through it all the songs success lies not just with her gorgeous rendition of a monotonous life, but in fact with all the members of the band who excel at writing music that people can relate to. That idea of “We can never get away from the Sprawl” is a real, complicated feeling that many people have with their hometowns, whether or not the grow up in “The Suburbs,” but it’s in that moment you realize the world is one big Sprawl, and over Mountain lies the potential to exist a Sprawl that’s perfectly weird in the exact way we are, and we can make the best of what the world has to offer.
1. Wake Up, Funeral
Without a doubt, there wasn’t any other song that could have been number one. At the top of the list, “Wake Up,” from the seminal “Funeral,” presents us with chants galore which are able to allow us to free ourselves from complicated lives, if only just for a moment. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us a better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
Thanks for reading!
So i’ve purposely not talked about nin too much because of my never ending love of this band. But today we’ll be adding another record to the “Albums of My Life” series with Nine Inch Nails massive breakthrough record, 1994’s “The Downward Spiral.” Enjoy!
The first thing you hear on this increasingly violent record is taken from the sci-fi cult movie “THX-1138” but from then on you're treated to aggressive industrial rock that didn’t really fit in with the current state of music at the time. The song is a perfect start for the story of a man meeting his end and falling out of control, and all the touches here only add to the already high level of tension that permeates all of “TDS.” This record tells the story of a man propelling to his demise, but it also propelled Reznor and company to the top of the pile during the early to mid 90’s, and even for a record that's now legally allowed to drink, you can still hear what made it such a promising, strong minded album.
Many of these songs have since become staples, and again it’s not surprising. “Piggy,” follows up “Mr. Self Destruct,” but it changes course in terms of style and intensity. Musically it’s slower in tempo, but the lyrics are just as dark as anything Reznor faces on the rest of the album. Frankly, I’ve never been a huge fan of the studio version, but as a piece of a narrative it fits in exceedingly well. Songs three to five though are where you really start the see the desperation and darkness surrounding our main narrator. “Heresy” has some of the most anti religious lyrics Reznor has ever put to tape, and after you’re done belting out “Your God is Dead, and No One cares,” you’re treated to what’s likely the most high energy, quickly intense track presented here. “March of the Pigs,” to this day, remains a rabid favorite among fans and it’s inclusion during shows has become the standard by which you measure the intensity of the crowd, and the band overall. It’s short, but even in it’s under three minute time length, it more than gets the job done.
Track five though is easily among the band’s most well known songs, and when the desolate synth beat of “Closer,” honing in on the environment of the song, you know what’s about to happen. While I could easily go without listening to this song or hearing it live for a long time, the song itself was the major push the band needed to graduate to the grand arena rock band they became. It’s slimy, sleazy, masochistic, and boy did it piss off a ton of parents when it was spreading it’s vulgar lyrics all over our country. My Aunt absolutely hated the song, going so far as refusing to even have it playing in her car while my cousin and I were just loving it. The best part for me though is the heavy electronic break down that brings everything up in tempo but also signals the finale of the well orchestrated and mixed track.
From here on the album gets only more experimental. “Ruiner” is still way ahead of the game in terms of pulling off ideas that both sell the music and genius of the band, but also push along the concept of the record. By this point the main character is slipping, falling further away from sanity, and images are starting to appear in his brain where they shouldn’t be. Musically the track has one of the best, most triumphant instrumental sections on the whole record. When Reznor mumbles “How’d you get so big, how’d you get so strong,” he’s backed by an impressive thrust of anthemic guitar parts and electronic sections that to this day stand tall up against some of the best instrumentals the band has ever constructed.
From here though, things only get worse for the listener and the character presented. “The Becoming” signals the hard left turn that his life has taken, where multiple personalities are prevalent in the person’s head, while “Big Man with a Gun” is furious and very tongue in cheek in terms of displaying just how hopeless this man’s life is becoming. The last five songs on the record though all deliver eye opening, yet very starly contrasting themes and arrangements. “A Warm Place,” remains beautiful in it’s presentation, but offers little reprieve in the grand scheme of things, while “Eraser” is a slow burn of evil and desperation that gradually pays off on it’s way to the huge musical bomb that’s set off at the song’s conclusion. It perfectly builds tension in the world of the album, and when the drums, guitars and screaming take full hold, there’s really no good that could come of it.
As the record finishes though, “Reptile” stands up excellently when compared to it’s name. The track has a venomous, stalker like vibe that resonates with the title, but the song works well simply because of the thought and precision used in managing it. It’s also the longest track of the record, which gives it ample time to worm and crawl it’s way to the conclusion you all see it coming, not only on the track itself but the album too. After making it through that though, the title track only adds fuel to the fire, and it’s epic slow build up purposely sets up the foregone conclusion everyone gets to when they think about the story of the record: The main character kills himself, or at the very least comes damn close.
Probably the best known track off “TDS” also happens to be the track that concludes the record. To this day “Hurt” remains a poignantly tormented song, with Reznor singing more clearly and vulnerable than he has throughout the record. The chorus also happens to be infectious, and very easy to sing along to be embrace the pain this man is feeling. It’s a cathartic song on the record, but it’s also cathartic to the listener who has been put through a myriad of person torment on their journey through this very good, but very deeply troubled record. Thanks for reading.
LOLLAPALOOZA LINEUP REVIEW
Every year, out of Chicago’s Grant Park, Lollapalooza seems to get bigger and bigger. Bigger spaces, bigger bands, all mashed into a corner of the grand city. But while the fest has been selling out in record time, and the lineup continues to be a mashup all tons of different genres, it never seems to get as much praise as other lineups. Today we discuss the lineup in a different way than i’m used to. I hope you enjoy my critique of the four day Lollapalooza overall lineup. This list will be broken into three sections: Best, Worst, and Really?, which basically means these picks are the most surprising, as well as the most confounding. Enjoy!
Ok the lineup is full of EDM, but enough is enough. I’m not trying to signal out Hardwell solely, but seriously, how many performers who don’t perform live are you willing to jam into your lineup?
4. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
The band that just won’t die. While some of their songs are truly awesome, the band continues to release subpar albums years after their relevance has faded.
3. CHRIS STAPLETON
Another really interesting choice. I understand picking musicians of all areas and specialities, but I just don’t see the crowds of Lolla being super favorable to a country artist. Maybe I’m wrong, but who knows.
2. MAJOR LAZER
Please diplo, just stop. While fun and mindless, this band literally hasn’t progressed at all in all the years I’ve known or been exposed to them. Another one sure to grab the ravers by the ears.
5.NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS
This year's Hozier as I see it. A band with one pretty big hit but no real substance, filling out every single lineup this year.
Now, Future is actually awesome, and I’m sure he’ll get the crowd going, but again, I’m confused at how high up he is. I simply wasn’t aware he had gotten that big. Either way, it’ll be awesome I’m sure.
3. BLOC PARTY
Another one that hasn’t really had any positive impact in years. Luckily though, people still want them on their bills. Hopefully they forget about all their recent releases and just pay “Silent Alarm” from start to finish.
2. THIRD EYE BLIND
This is surprising, but again kinda cool. If seeing Fuel was even half as awesome as seeing this band will be, than i’m all for another 90’s nostalgia set full of sing alongs that everyone knows.
1. X AMBASSADORS
Not only one of the worst bands out right now, but with literally one song being played on the radio, this just screams of “Let this band do some cool stuff before everyone moves on and forgets.” Also, how the fuck is Steven Spielberg a renegade?
5. THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS
While many people know Alex turner from the Arctic Monkeys, this two piece is just as fun and cool. The new album is really good too, so it’s exciting that they'll be touring our country this summer.
With her second, extremely good album having been released this past year, it’s finally time for Grimes to become the big draw she’s so clearly meant to be. This will be an awesome set.
One of the most consistent bands of the last ten years, Anthony Gonzales and company are finally getting justifiably high billing among some of the biggest fests in the country. If the new album is anywhere near as good as “Hurry Up,We’re Dreaming,” this set should be one of the better of the weekend.
2. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
The biggest reunion of the year, so it’s not shocking that they will be headlining. They also are consistently mentioned as an amazing live band, so there’s little doubt that this is going to end up a giant dance party which will put to shame the mindlessness of the whole EDM craze.
Not only the biggest band on the lineup, but easily the best band they booked this year. Every time I’ve seen them live it’s been life changing, and having been to their first lolla set in 2008, I can tell you for sure it’s going to be a night that people will never forget.
Overall though, the lineup has some great parts to it, but in my mind they’ve cemented their reputation as the Walmart of festivals, in that they just throw money at everything to turn a mediocre product they know people will buy. Thanks for reading
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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