Scott Stanley – Singles Review
I tell ya…this world could certainly benefit from having a few more people around like Scott Stanley. Dude’s highly creative, seems like a great guy, has a can-do attitude, and he’s lookin’ to make a lil’ music designed for y’all to shake your rump with – I mean…you gotta love that right? He’s at the early point in his career…and he’s essentially doin’ what he does for the pure love of the game…as in, maybe you’ll be enticed into listening, maybe you won’t, but regardless, Scott’s gonna be making MORE music & writing MORE songs, because he loves the craft, enjoys the process, and has a versatile skillset that reveals he’s capable of quite a lot. For instance…he plays the sax, the keys, the bass, the guitar…records…produces too – you get the idea…there really ain’t nothin’ that ever comes between a man and his music, you dig?
I can hear the talent, I can hear the interest, and I can hear multiple levels of potential as well. I put on a track called “Buildings” to start things off…and whether or not it’s gonna get that rump of yours bumpin’ I honestly do not know – but I can vouch for the fact that it’ll probably get your brainwaves movin’ and certainly pique your interest. At less than two minutes in length, it kind of plays like a specific moment in time without a ton of variation to what the main meat of the melody has to offer ya – but with respect to that, it’s also the kind of track that could potentially open DIFFERENT doors for Scott’s music. As with all artists, it really just depends on what he’d wanna accomplish with it of course – to me, I hear a wild amount of video-game potential here…mind you, I grew up in the 80s/90s, so that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about…your Double Dragons, your Street Fighters…those kind of multi-level adventure games…this is where you character moves to the right and the screen stops, and that next BIG BOSS comes out with his gang of hoodlums and tries to stop ya from moving on through. Is that gonna be for everyone? Doubtful! But you regular readers around these pages of ours know full well what I’d say to that in response – there’s no type of music that really IS…so get on out there & do what ya do exactly how you wanna do it! Would I listen to “Buildings” personally? You bet! Maybe not ALL the time – but for sure…if I wanted to have a little segue of fun in a day that truly needed it, I’d put this on right away, and that relief/pure joy I’d need would be right there in my ears only moments later. Scott makes a fun style of sound…in my mind, it’s not just entertaining, but it’s a kind of music that has a real time & place; you’ll know full well when you wanna reach for one of Stanley’s songs…and the value in that is priceless.
Definitely tough to not feel the groove he’s so ready to supply y’all…consider yourselves warned! A track like “Stepping Away” packs a playful vibe to it too…the kind of song you’d wanna put on so that you can effective strut to the store or about town for the day like you SHOULD BE doin’ – you feel me? As far as moments in time go, this one’s a whole lotta fun too…it strikes me that this is Scott Stanley’s real niche when it comes right down to it. In terms of composition…it’s one of those things I suppose – it’s not that there isn’t a song here…there IS…but it’s definitely designed much more as a singular moment as opposed to a whole lot of variation, you following me? Yes there are different sounds that’ll come & go – and all of them get their moment in the spotlight to be noticed for sure – but I don’t know that a track like “Stepping Away” makes a big enough departure at any given time for the average everyday listener to really feel like they’ve gone anywhere much further than where a cut like this all began. It’s kind of like experiencing a band’s solo moments, where each player takes a turn while the rhythm section continues to hold the fort & the music in-time…so you WILL hear a whole lot of different elements making contributions to the fun your ears WILL be having…there’s just not a ton of dynamics when it comes to how a track like this moves from start to finish on a compositional level. That doesn’t mean there NEEDS to be…believe me, my own ears can attest to that firsthand – I’ve spun “Stepping Away” plenty of times over the past several times and never managed to get bored of it, even though it might be a bit more static in a structural sense than the majority of tunes out there. What you’ll hear still has no problem at all grabbing your attention – and for a singular moment in time, it’s freakin’ solid.
I’m a Funk person. I don’t know what it is exactly, but the moment you add a Y to that word, I’m instantly frightened…something about the word “Funky” that just makes my skin crawl phonetically. On the bright-side of things, Scott’s tunes are instrumental…on the downside of things, he’s got the word written all over his pages and everywhere I look there it is. “Balanced Funk In The Funky Forest” would have me feeling much the same as I have about “Stepping Away” – I like how it sounds, I like it as a moment in time…and I think he’s probably still searching for the reasons for us to return to any one given song. On the whole, I can think of plenty of reasons to return to listen to Scott Stanley as an artist – but as to what makes one cut any more memorable than the others, that part’s much more up for debate. Kind of like how I feel about Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra…I like and/or love that entire catalog pretty much, but I couldn’t tell ya the name of a single song – it’s simply good music I’d never turn off and never mind having on. When it comes to the case of “Balanced Funk In The Funky Forest” I felt like this could potentially be one of those spots in music where standing back, looking back at things objectively in terms of how we’d listen in terms of being people that didn’t create the song…could be a little beneficial…as in, I think there could be hooks that have been left on the table here. I’m a little like Scott in the sense that, I’m picking up on the fun being had on the keys at the start of this tune and I can totally get how much fun that would be to play’em – like, 100% for real – anyone that’s played keyboards for even a moment would be able to connect to the fun at this song’s core throughout its first 2:08-ish…but with that being said, between 2:08 and 2:28 – the twenty seconds or so right before this entire song wraps up and the guitar makes itself known…that’s the real hook being revealed there at the end. I’d suggest going back, rebuilding a track like this around that part & adding a keyboard solo into it.
When I got to “Lost In The Fog,” I thought to myself – “this here…this is the pathway forward.” Like Stanley himself, I don’t know that this is particular QUITE there yet – but more-so than any particular cut so far, this is where I could hear a ton of things going right on a universal level…as in, more people than just Scott and myself are gonna like it & wanna loop this on repeat. And I’ll put it to ya this way – he knows exactly WHY that is without me having to say a word – because the main hook & gateway into this song is THAT apparent – wouldn’t you say there brother-man? You know as well as I know those bass-lines are completely irresistible my friend…and that’s the effect of what we call universal sound – everyone and anyone that’s listening can feel it…and if you’re looking to make music that connects to the masses out there beyond my own penchant for the unique & awesome oddities out there in this world…then we really gotta dissect what’s working well in this track. The guitar tones are equally brilliant…there’s an addition of vocals in here too is there not? As strange as they are, it’s an amazing contribution to this tune. The keyboards have got the perfect sound to add in…maybe not the perfect part – YET…but Scott’s really onto something there too. Ultimately, “Lost In The Fog” is a bit wandering with the structure and elements it has, but you can completely hear that every ingredient you wanna hear is right there in the mix, just waiting to circle back to how this song sounds at its most together & complete. Which doesn’t necessarily imply everything has to be played all at once either – sometimes its the space & simplest ingredients that’ll guide us to the most satisfying victories in music – like those bass-lines really do deserve their own moment in the spotlight to shine as brightly as they should, you dig? So dial it in my brother…focus up & focus sharp…because there’s some Beta Band-esque brilliance to be found in here somewhere if you play it right; the sum of this song’s parts is really strong.
There’s that word again. “Funky Escalator” is probably a bit more on the fringe side of sound that even I’d accept…and I’m definitely open to a lot more than most are dear readers, dear friends – yes, even YOU. I felt like this track kind of confirmed a lot of what I was feeling in the sense that…well…what’s that phrase – ‘jack of all trades & master of none?’ – we’re close to that here…but more specifically, I felt like “Funky Escalator” revealed that Scott’s a bass player primarily – the rest of his abilities come in at an equal second place. I’m not opposed to experimentation, I’m not opposed to the strange side of music either…just keep in mind, when you put your music out there for opinions, you’ll get’em! Especially from me. I felt like “Funky Escalator” left Scott a bit more exposed in terms of what he’s got in his skillset and the level each element is at is all…his bass playing is generally fantastic…and the rest is getting there & catching up, but not quite at that same level yet. His guitar probably ain’t all that far behind but there’s just not much of that on “Funky Escalator” compared to what we’ve heard in the other tunes. Keyboard-wise…I think Scott can gain a lot by calming it down a bit, dialing in, and focusing in on WHY he loves having the keyboards included as much as he does – he’s finding all the right sounds, just not the most effective parts in each track yet. So rather than get super hyped up about hittin’ all them keys at once brother, concentrate on the sound itself, and find the parts that serve the main meat of the song best…because the ideas ARE there, the sounds you’re seeking out definitely ARE there…and all-in-all, it’s just a matter of taking that extra time to explore the relationship between’em all and doing what serves the song best overall. It’s not an art that happens overnight…but you can completely hear where the potential is and how many happy accidents can occur within the process of exploration and letting the music simply come outta ya, come what may. Now comes the harder part…the refinement.
Creating a Blues/Funk combo on “Pickup Somethin Random” is an interesting way to go about things – and I suppose I could see the people out there digging something like this with a bit more length and girth to it. As it stands at less than ninety seconds currently…again, it’s tough to make that memorable – and anything with a reference to the Blues already has the wear & tear of what’s been done a million times in music coming along with it…so there’s that to consider – but that could also be projection on my side of the speakers here. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the Blues at all…and even though I think that Scott proves he could add some spark to it via the FUNK he adds into “Pickup Somethin Random” – I don’t know that it’d be enough for me to make the difference at the end of the day, but it could be for you. I dig a lot of what he adds in on guitar here…and somewhere in the start/stop combos of how he’s playing this, you can hear the influence of something like Led Zeppelin at its core, even if the sound of the music overall has a lot more of a glitzy gloss to it here on “Pickup Somethin Random.” So in some ways, it’s kind of a cut that sounds like we caught Scott in a moment alone, riffin’ on what he loves in someone else’s music and noodlin’ his way around the studio – and there’s definitely an enticing vibe to that in itself – but I’m not quite convinced that’s gonna make a song that the people will come on back to…make sense? Again, you’re never gonna find me reaching over to turn off a Scott Stanley tune – I will, and have, looped this dude’s music for hours on end…because I generally find his randomness & roaming ways to be somewhat calming and soothing for the soul when it comes right down to it…but in terms of mainstream consumption…he’s still got a few more miles to go in order to reach those heights.
I have…hmm…never quite witnessed a music-video as strange as the one that comes along with “What I Cooked Up In The Lab” before as a pairing with a song…but I sure am learning something about ionogels, and who knew I’d be doing THAT today, right? So…hmm…yeah…I mean, there’s that – and that’s actually pretty unique – it even kind of confirms the point I was making at the very beginning of this review in terms of how many different places music like Scott is creating could potentially end up. Because why NOT have it as the soundtrack to learning about ionogels? I can’t think of a solitary reason as to why it couldn’t be! I also like that the video gives you one last insight into what Scott’s all about at the very end of it when you see the credits, which read: “Dr. Scott Stanley.” And so here we are! We’ve arrived at the truth of the matter and piece of the puzzle we’ve all been wondering about all along – was this music being made by someone doin’ it full time, someone that’s just getting started, or someone else entirely…and now you know. The good doctor here has likely got himself a completely different career, and he’s just been dabblin’ around with a passion he’s got on the side, testing out what does and doesn’t work through the process of experimentation, and all us listeners are his lab rats running through the maze of sound he’s been creating. I’m cool with my role in that scenario. I don’t honestly know how I felt about “What I Cooked Up In The Lab” in comparison to the rest of the set…part of me felt like this track had a bit more to it on a compositional & structural level…but part of me felt like the amount of interest generated in this tune was a bit pale in comparison to the rest of the set of singles I’d been listening to as well. I like that he’s got killer stuff in the mix like harmonics…and his bass playing is as cool & killer as it has been at its best right at the end of this set as well too…so once again, it’s a mix of things that work & ideas worth pursuing…but also once again in a very loose groove that might prove hard to keep the people’s attention out there too. Interesting stuff when it comes right down to it – what I can guarantee ya is that you probably don’t listen to a whole lot of music that sounds much at all like what Scott’s been cookin’ up in his lab…and there’s always value in something different & unique. My gut tells me he’s just gotta put down the stethoscope for a moment or two longer and really dial in on what the masses might think if he’s looking for his music to reach the most accessible level it could possibly reach…but if he’s content to simply make tunes that he and I want to listen to, he’s already got everything he needs. One way or the other, it’s all cool with me – I know I’ve had FUN listening to Scott’s music, and if that was truly the goal from day one…to reach at least one person…then mission accomplished good doctor – I’d happily make another appointment to listen to more of this any ol’ time.
Listen to more music by Scott Stanley at his Soundcloud page here: https://soundcloud.com/scott-stanley-232585424
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