Creed: Weathered

Tony Peregrin



Label: Wind-up
US Release Date: 2001-11-20

Almost every Creed tune shines with a kind of velvet luster; from one perspective, their songs are decently packaged bits of muscle rock. But move your head just a little, look at it from a slightly different angle, and the songs easily morph into dull patches of formulaic arena-rock, which is largely the case with Weathered, the band's much ballyhooed follow-up to their 1999 offering, Human Clay.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, the band claimed Weathered would be "the heaviest, most intense music we've ever written", and sure enough, the album opens with "Bullets", a noisy, aggressive track where frontman Scott Stapp screams his way through lyrics like "Look at me / Look at me / At least look at me when you shoot a bullet / Through my head". (After cringing your way through the song, you're more likely to want to put a bullet through your speakers, if anything.)

In reality, Creed works best when it isn't trying so hard to be "heavy", especially on the song's where Mark Tremonti swelling guitar blasts aren't competing with Stapp's vocals. Tremonti has publicly admitted that many of the riffs on this album came from soundcheck jams while on tour, and -- at least in this case -- that's not such a good thing. Tremonti's contribution to the album ranges from inconsistent and distracting ("Bullets") to downright annoying and show-offy, especially in "Don't Stop Dancing", which features misplaced, early '80s-inspired guitar solos.

While Weathered is flecked with imperfections, the album still manages to offer some fairly serviceable rock. Tracks like the album's first single, "My Sacrifice", and the radio-ready "Who's Got my Back?" allow Stapp's strained vocals to shine through in all their grunge-tinged glory, as he growls his way around feelings of loss and redemption. In fact, it is the band's ability to craft songs in these primitive, primary colors of insecurity, fear and depression that have generated such a determined fan base, despite the scowls and indifferent shrugs of the critics.

Creed does manage to provide a few surprises this time around: look for Bo Taylor, a Cherokee Indian vocalist, to chant a prayer at the beginning of "Who's Got My Back" as well as the Tallahassee Boys Choir (accompanied by Stapp's sister Amie, natch) singing backup on "Don't Stop Dancing". Both Taylor and the boys choir are comfortable supplements to Stapp's vocals, who, as one critic noted, "sings every note as if it were his last".

But its just that kind of intensity that gives Creed fans a hard-on. That, and Strapp's ability to view himself -- and the band -- without so much as a glimmer of self-induced humor or irony, allowing them to produce tedious, ordinary songs that, depending on how close you're looking, can easily double as charismatic rock anthems.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

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With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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The Dear Hunter: All Is As All Should Be EP

Jordan Blum
Publicity photo via Bandcamp

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The Dear Hunter is undoubtedly one of the best—and consequently, most egregiously underappreciated—bands of the last decade or so. Aside from 2013's Migrant LP, every one of their major releases featured an ambitious hook; for example, 2011's The Color Spectrum presented nine EPs (consisting of four songs each) that individually represented a different sonic tone (in order: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and White), whereas the five-part (so far) Act saga, with its genre-shifting arrangements, superlative songwriting, narrative complexity, and extraordinary conceptual continuity, is a cumulative work of genius, plain and simple.

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