Personnel: Scott Weiland (vocals); Jeremy Brown (guitar); Danny Thompson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Rick Parker .
Recording information: Lavish Studios, Burbank (2014); The Sandbox, Beachwood Canyon (2014).
Photographers: Jason Christopher; Piper Ferguson; Jerry Abramowicz; Jamie Weiland.
Emerging from a seven-year semi-hiatus -- one broken for the release of Christmas and covers albums, plus a flirtation with playing in a band called Art of Anarchy with Bumblefoot -- Scott Weiland returns to action with Blaster, the first record he's cut with a new backing band called the Wildabouts. The supporting cast may be new but the sounds remain the same: he's still enamored of the heavy metal, glam, and psychedelia that have formed his signature since the glory days of Stone Temple Pilots. With such a familiar palette, details matter and the aptly titled Blaster lacks in subtlety. Much of it churns at crackling digital overdrive, sounding brutal, loud, and ugly, but beneath that gnarled surface Weiland can still deliver the kind of candied hooks that keep him firmly situated as a guilty pleasure. Usually, these hooks grab hold on the lightest songs: the snaky sway of "Way She Moves," the icy new romanticism of "Youth Quake," and, especially, "Beach Pop," a piece of sticky AM bubblegum pop that earns its handclaps. These, along with the sweetly sun-kissed country-rock closer "Circles," are all the more appealing because they're surrounded by heavy rockers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine