Stone Temple Pilots (Atlantic 82418)
Stone Temple Pilots isn't a heavy metal band -- it just plays like one. Between the weighty crunch of the guitars, throaty roar of singer Welland, the Pilots pack the same sonic punch as any metal outfit, and yet there are few songs on "Core" that truly qualify as headbanger fare. Some of that stems from the fact that the group rarely gives in to the aural excesses that usually make metal into an endurance test for non-initiates -- there's no screeching from the singer, no pointless virtuosity from the guitarist, no headache-inducing riffage from the rhythm section. But the band's big secret is that the melody always comes first, meaning that what you're likely to remember about songs like "Sin" or "Sex Type Thing" isn't their intensity, but their hooks. Now, that's heavy. Patty Loveless (Epic 53236)
Although it's tempting to describe Patty Loveless as a country pop performer, the term might be a little misleading. After all, most of today's country pop performers tend to emphasize the "pop" far more than the "country." But no matter how much the songs on Loveless' new album, "Only What I Feel," seem to embrace the pop aesthetic, her singing keeps the music from ever sounding too slick or citified. Consequently, it hardly matters whether she's handling a bouncy, rock-inflected number like "How About You," or an old-fashioned honky-tonk tune like "You Don't Know How Lucky You Are" -- Loveless makes the music feel like pure country every time. Apache Indian (Mango 162 539 932)
It's easy to understand why Americans might at first have a hard time taking Apache Indian seriously. It isn't just the way this young dancehall star would use a stage name that puns so pointedly on his Asian ancestry, or even that he would opt for the groan-inducing album title, "No Reservations." What really seems odd is how freely his music mixes Indian and Jamaican elements, as with the tablas percolating beneath "Chok There" or the sitar riff framing "AIDS Warning." Yet instead of coming across as mere gimmickry, Apache Indian's stylistic synthesis ends up sounding wonderfully inspired, particularly on tunes like bhangra-flavored "Arranged Marriage."
BOUND BY HONOR
Songs from the Motion Picture
Usually when a movie soundtrack is built around oldies, it uses its selections to help establish a sense of time and place. But the soundtrack to "Bound By Honor" goes a step beyond that, because this musical recreation of East L.A. in the mid-'70s does an exquisite job of showing how soul and salsa came together to define the low-rider sound. It's one thing to throw a little Santana into the mix, quite another to show how much common ground there is between Malo's "Cafe," Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and the Isley Brothers' "That Lady." Nor does the album stop there, for the soundtrack also includes a couple contemporary takes on Latino funk, including the Scream's sizzling remake of War's "Me and Baby Brother."