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Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots

Atlantic

Buy if you like: Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin

When Stone Temple Pilots split in 2003, singer Scott Weiland went off to join Velvet Revolver. Velvet Revolver's crashed and burned, so it's reunion time. A logical career move, to be sure, but does it work musically? Yes. The time apart helped recharge the creative batteries for all concerned, resulting in a swaggering, confident collection of songs that equal — and perhaps surpass — the band's first go-round. The mastery of big rock riffs is much in evidence, and songs like "Huckleberry Crumble," "Hickory Dichotomy" and "Hazy Daze" show STP has few equals when it comes to the task of creating hooky pop songs with unfortunate names. The playing is supple yet tight, and Weiland's chameleonic vocals suit whatever the songs demand. There are obvious echoes of Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, but this is still quality stuff. It's good to have them back. — Alan Sculley

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Hanson

Shout It Out

3CG

Buy if you like: Jackson 5, Blues Brothers

It's been 13 years since Hanson permanently penetrated our brains with "MMMBop." Though it's unlikely they'll ever have another hit that big, they're still casting hooks you won't easily dislodge from your skull. "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'," the leadoff single, is just one of several infectious tunes on their self-produced fifth studio album. Full of big horns and keyboards, it's a harmony-laden dose of fun. The sibling trio, all married dads, address adult themes but never lose sight of their childhood pop-soul-R&B influences. "Make It Out Alive" recalls the Brill Building and Billy Joel; Jackson 5 elements show up in "Waiting for This." "Carry You There" has a gospel-like chorus; the soulful "Kiss Me When You Come Home" could be the "Thinking" flip side. Every now and then, we need feel-good pop tunes, and Hanson does them to perfection. — Lynne Margolis

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Orianthi

Believe (II)

Geffen

Buy if you like: Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy

Young singer/guitarist Orianthi, who was to be featured on last year's Michael Jackson tour, is seeing revived career momentum with the release of the single "Shut Up & Kiss Me." To capitalize on that visibility, Geffen is re-releasing her 2009 debut album, Believe, with four new tracks (including the single) and renaming it Believe (II). The songs are patterned after the Avril Lavigne/Matrix songwriting formula: an understated but lyrically charged verse that pays off in a big chorus and anthemic hook. Orianthi executes the formula well, with the full-bodied voice required to pull it off. She's also a talented guitarist, which gives her music a bit of a different spin, especially on the proggy metal-sounding "Highly Strung." Much of this album is undeniably catchy, but Orianthi will have to show more originality if she really wants to move forward. — Alan Sculley

  • Stone Temple Pilots, Hanson, Orianthi

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