Guest Blog: Ari Kaplan

We don’t usually do this sort of thing over at The Rawking Refuses To Stop! but Ari Kaps is a musician/writer/Camp Hess Kramer camper close to my heart. Enjoy, and check him out here. Someday when I’m doing A&R for Warner Bros., he’ll be at the top of my list. Young pretension at its best!


Velvet Revolver – Contraband

Velvet Revolver (Guns & Roses with Scott Weiland) is a terrific example of a great idea gone horrifically wrong. This scantily put-together CD gives a listener a sense of the true music world today. In this case, a record label decided it would be a fabulous idea to put a grunge singer in a classic rock band. Well guess what big-shot record guy…DOESN’T WORK! Although I like most of Guns & Roses’ and Stone Temple Pilots’ music, when the two are molded together you feel overwhelmed with pop culture. If you take the time to listen to the songs on this sketchy debut, you’ll notice there are many songs that will have a very decent verse but abruptly switch into a cliche and poppy chorus, which mixes as well as oil and water.

It’s a shame though, all the wasted talent. Slash, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, who has some very slick solos on this album, seems to fit into this band as well as a pork chop on an orthodox Jewish family’s dinner table. His amazing guitar work is poorly mixed in with the actual rhythm music surrounding it, causing a musical catastrophe. Duff is not the greatest bassist of all time, but he can lay down a basic riff. Not much to say about him. I can’t really criticize him considering bass parts don’t really stick out on this CD. Another example of wasted talent is Matt Sorum, who normally delivers to me orgasmic percussion pieces, which you can hear on the tribute CD to Buddy Rich, is also higher in rank along with Slash over the rest of Velvet Revolver. I’ll tell you this much. If Sorum and Slash were in a band that actually experimented and didn’t crap out the same riffs and tunes over and over again, like the Mars Volta or Modest Mouse, (not saying Modest Mouse is spectacular, but they aren’t replicas of anyone I’ve ever heard) then the music world wouldn’t be cursed with this atrocious superband CD. Dave Kushner. Ummmm, I’ve got nothing against this guy. As far as I know he just plays rhythm guitar and doesn’t really contribute much to the band or its image. Maybe he knows the music isn’t great.

Last, and definitely least, Scott Weiland. This man is the perfect example of how drugs will ruin not only your singing, but your image too. I listened to some STP and compared it to Velvet Revolver. I can’t tell which one is actually Scott Weiland. If you saw Velvet Revolver at KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, you would agree with me that Weiland couldn’t sing well to save his or anyone else’s life. After listening to Contraband I realized that most of what you hear on the CD is painful noise digitally processed to appeal to people with an unrefined taste in music. When you consider the pile of dog feces that the music industry is today, Contraband is a relatively mediocre CD. When you compare Contraband to CDs that although aren’t best sellers that still contain non-pop culture elements, (editor’s note: I think the word Ari is looking for here is “indie”) such as De-Loused In The Comatorium and The Moon And Antarctica, you will realize that it receives nothing higher than a 2/5. And I’m in a good mood.

-Ari Kaplan


Ironically (or something), I get e-mails all the time from Velvet Revolver’s PR because I worked with them on my ATP story last fall.