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Core

Stone Temple Pilots

1992

STP's debut album caught a lot of shit from the press for supposedly being a rip-off of Pearl Jam and the Seattle grunge sound in general.  Is Core better than Ten? The short answer for that is no, but just because Scott Weiland channels Eddie Vedder's trademark "grrr" throughout most of the album doesn't mean Core is a copy of Ten.  In a nutshell, STP (at the time) was basically a stripped-down, more muscular, and less urgent sounding version of PJ, and in many ways, Core can be a more satisfying listening experience as a  result.  It's not as rewarding as Ten, and it certainly lacks it's gravitas, but the songs here don't try to be anything more than what they are: riff-heavy grunge rock with a deep groove/grind, and it's all done very well on Core.  This album is somewhat one dimensional compared to the next few STP records, but if you want STP at their heaviest and grungiest, you needn't look any further than Core.  A borderline great debut, and one of my personal favorite grunge albums of all-time.

8.7

Purple

Stone Temple Pilots

1994

A lot of people consider this to be STP's best album, and you can certainly make a strong case for that.  It retains the same essential grungy flavor of "Core", but the band really stretches out here into more melodic territory.  Some of the songs are downright breezy and poppy in nature, but ultimately STP doesn't really deviate too much from their core (no pun intended) sound here.  Basically there's more color to be found on Purple, an album that finds them evolving and showing their critics that they were not just another run of the mill grunge band, but rather a bonified force to be reckoned with.  One of the most infectious and satisfying alternative rock albums of the 90s.

8.8

Tiny Music...Gifts From The Vatican Gift Shop

Stone Temple Pilots

1996

This is my favorite STP album.  To my ears, the band got better with each new album, and peaked out with Tiny Music.  Core was a solid grunge album, Purple was a more colorful grunge album, with more emphasis on melody, and Tiny Music is the most melodic of them all.  On Tiny Music, they've basically shed their grungy skin from a couple of years earlier, and the result is more dymanic, old-school rock n'roll sound.  The album sports a retro sound at times, as Beatles influences ("Lady Picture Show") and Stones influences ("Tumble In The Rough") can be found sprinkled throughout the album.  "Big Bang Baby" also comes to mind as another standout track.  But the best thing about Tiny Music just how GD smooth it is.  Each song flows into the next beautifully, and there's enough variety in the tracks to keep the listener engaged.  It's pure 90s alternative rock ear candy, and my favorite album from STP. 

8.9

No. 4

Stone Temple Pilots

1999

Arriving 3 years after the beautifully melodic Tiny Music, No. 4 takes a turn in a decidedly heavier direction.  Mind you, this is STP we're talking about, so perhaps "heavy" isn't the best word, but No. 4 definitely seems to be the most muscular sounding album in the band's entire catalog.  But whereas Core was cloaked in an air of compelling grungy murk, No. 4 just kind of sounds like a big loud rock record for the most part.  And unfortunately, I don't really mean that in a good way.  Aside from a couple of songs, the melodic tendencies of their prior 2 efforts are sorely missed here (although "Sour Girl" is quite beautiful).  So, while not a bad album, No. 4 sounds a little too lunk-headed and clumsy at times for it's own good, which makes it probably their least-good album to date.

7.8

Shangri-La Dee Da

Stone Temple Pilots

2001

Shangri-La Dee Da is an ever so slight improvement over brash and disappointing No. 4, but unfortunately it too fails to live up to the greatness (or should I say "goodness") of their early/mid-90s heyday.  SLDD is also somewhat brash in nature, but the hard-rocking jams here seem to work a little bit better.  They're generally more infectious, and STP makes a modest effort to incorporate more melody into the tunes here.  Unfortunately, it all has a mildly generic stinch about it.  The mellower numbers, while not bad, fail to capture the grace and charm of their classic ballads from the past.  And the vast majority of the rest of the album just sounds like somewhat bland late 90s/early 2000s arena rock.  They just sound like a pretty good hark rock band here.  And Scott Weiland, for whatever reason (probably drugs) sounds a bit too rock-starish here, similar to No. 4.  He doesn't sound as earnest or compelling as a singer, he just sounds like of like a snoody little rock-star at times.  It's subtle, but it's also apparent.  So overall, STP seems kind of stuck in a generic rut here.  Still better than most band's of their ilk, but it now seems clear that their best days are likely behind them unfortunately.

7.9

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