Record Reviews


Stone Temple Pilots

Album: “Stone Temple Pilots”

Grade: B

The Stone Temple Pilots, once closely associated with the grunge explosion of the early 1990s with such hits as “Creep” and “Plush” has returned with a new self-titled album and a new lead singer, Jeff Gutt.

Gutt, once a contestant on “The X Factor,” has big shoes to fill, namely those of original frontman Scott Weiland, who was dismissed from the band amid his drug troubles, and Weiland’s replacement, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who did a two-year stint with the band (both are now dead).

If there are nerves, Gutt isn’t showing them. The album kicks off with “Middle of Nowhere” and Gutt sings with strutting bluster, “There’s a right way/And there’s a wrong way/And then there’s my way.”

The 12-track album is a nice collection of straight-ahead hard rock songs, from the bluesy “Never Enough” to the arena rocker “Meadow.” The band isn’t afraid to go slower, too, and offer two outstanding ballads, “Thought She’d Be Mine” and “The Art of Letting Go.”

Perhaps the most grunge-y song on the new album is “Roll Me Under,” which has the power of instantly transporting you to the sound of rock when Bill Clinton was new in the White House.

—Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

Snoop Dogg

Album: “Bible of Love”

Grade: B

A humble, peace-loving, family-centered Snoop emerges on this 32-track double gospel album “Bible of Love.” He quotes from the Book of Isaiah — “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” — and has nice things to say about his devout grandmother.

“I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody,” he raps in one song.

Snoop doesn’t perform on every track, preferring to showcase a variety of outstanding performers in the genre, such as The Clark Sisters, John P. Kee and Kim Burrell.

Thanks to Mr. Dogg, nongospel folk will now be exposed to powerhouses such as Tye Tribbett, whose infectious “You” makes hearts race, and K-Ci, whose voice flutters like a butterfly on “No One Else.”

When Snoop does drop in, his nasally, precise, laconic flow works in beautiful counterpoint to gospel stars such as Rance Allen (a terrifically funky “Blessing Me Again”), and B. Slade, who pops up all over the CDs and teams up with Snoop on the stunning, album ending “Words Are Few.”

—Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

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