Album reviews: Maria Taylor, Stone Temple Pilots w Chester Bennington, Alex Caton

Album reviews: Maria Taylor, Stone Temple Pilots w Chester Bennington, Alex Caton

Maria Taylor

Something About Knowing/Saddle Creek

Inspired by a new phase in her life—that of being a first-time mother—Something About Knowing breaks slightly from singer-songwriter Maria Taylor’s traditional folk pop leanings and adds some new aesthetics to the mix. On “Up All Night,” her ode to motherhood and a baby not sleeping, she juxtaposes thoughtful, joyous musings with an edgy electric guitar riff, and on “Broken Objects” breathy background vocals and a bubbling undercurrent of bass and hypnotic beats make for an otherworldly experience. The easygoing mid-tempo title track praises the simple life and knowing you are loved, while “Sum of Our Lives” is an uplifting track that provokes introspection. Taylor winds her way through the album with comfortable grace which does not make for an overly dramatic record, but it makes Something About Knowing an immensely pleasant experience.

Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington

High Rise/Play Pen

If we’re being honest, then Stone Temple Pilots as a band hasn’t been relevant for a while. The band’s last notable album was 1999’s No. 4 (2001’s bloated Shangri-La Dee Da and 2010’s self-titled misfire do not count), and it’s been all Scott Weiland, all the time, for most of the band’s history. But when he was fired and replaced by Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, the adjusted Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington suddenly became very interesting.
On its debut EP, High Rise, the group’s new lead singer charismatically and melodically blasts his way through the songs while avoiding his patented throat-shredding screams. The new tunes are notable as classic STP driving rock songs (“Out of Time”), or the glam rock style numbers that pervaded the Tiny Music… record (“Black Heart,” “Same on the Inside”), and the DeLeo brothers still provide their groovy signature guitar and bass hooks. At five songs and 16-plus minutes in length, it’s a quickie, but it’s a potent taste of where this new incarnation of STP is headed.

Alex Caton

Swimming to Lindsey/Self-released

Singer-songwriter Alex Caton’s third album is a rich, lyrical treasure to behold. Swimming to Lindsey demonstrates Caton’s skill at infusing her music with varied moods and musical sensibilities. The title track lays down a simple, hypnotic bluegrass tone that captivates and the country folk number “Who Will Sing for Me?” matches Caton’s evocative vocals with the dark subject matter of death. She shows her prowess with the fiddle on tracks like “Ora Lee” and “Yew Piney Mountain,” and banjo fans will enjoy the adept plucking on “Morning Glory.” The charming folk song “Beauty Abounds” is picturesque and easygoing, and “I’m Thinking, Ever Thinking” is an a cappella track that marks a nice change in style from the rest of the album. Swimming to Lindsey is a joyfully engaging and organic record.