Stray Tablet – Singles

 Stray Tablet – Singles

Stray Tablet – Singles Review

Ayyyy…if it isn’t one of music’s strangest independent oddities returning to our pages…

Stray Tablet is proudly making a career out of doing things unlike the rest would do.  You listen to a track like “Welcome To The Show (Stage One)” and believe me when I tell ya, you’ll know exactly what I mean – you don’t & likely won’t hear a whole lot out there like this particularly bizarre project.  This first cut in the latest list of singles I had sent my way is undeniably challenging to get your head around…and if you look at the hashtags, you’ll know why that is – it’s ‘Math Rock’ and/or Progressive…which essentially implies that the masses are out, and it’s going to appeal to a narrower slice of the potential audience out there by nature…that’s the reality of genres like that, no matter who ya are.  That being said, if you dig on sounds & styles of music that are well off the beaten path that everyone else chooses to funnel themselves through, there’s a good chance you find something to entice you into listening to Stray Tablet.  Even if it’s just because it’s different, sometimes that’s more than enough of a reason.  I can hear and appreciate the complexities of a track like “Welcome To The Show (Stage One)” and I know why it would appeal to me…because I too am a little on the weird side I suppose…but yeah…it’s very tough to comment on why it might appeal to other folks out there.  I’d imagine that Stray Tablet has never really cared one way or the other if it does…Stray Tablet gonna do what Stray Tablet gonna do, regardless of how any of us might feel about it.  This first cut is hella unique though, no doubt about it.

I don’t know that being strange for strange’s sake is going to be the best strategy in the long run, though I can personally vouch for the fact that if you somehow stumble on Stray Tablet, you’ll never forget the experience and certainly remember this project the next time you hear from it again.  Is “Little Clocks And The Spaceman” going to be a jam the people out there can get behind?  Not likely…no.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to advocate on behalf of all the freaks and the geeks out there throughout the scene…but there is a line where too much of a difference in sound can certainly become an obstacle and no longer a benefit.  Memorable, absolutely…listenable though?  Way harder to say.  I’m generally nothing but objective and fair in how I assess music – I can hear multiple access points in a track like “Welcome To The Show (Stage One)” even if they’re not the most typical gateways into a song…but on a track like “Little Clocks And The Spaceman,” I’m having a way harder time figuring out how folks would be able to find their way into listening to this track.  At some point, Stray Tablet has gotta throw people a bit of a lifeline in terms of finding that balance between the surreal & strange and what’s somewhat accessible…at least in my opinion.  Without discovering where that line might be, there’s a good chance that Stray Tablet is makin’ noise that not a whole lot of people are gonna hear, or stick with if they do – make sense?  It’s a tough track to get into…but there are elements of the performance that are pretty badass too…as to whether or not that’s enough of a selling feature for the masses…again, I’d have a hard time believing that Stray Tablet has got something here that’ll catch on without turning them off.

Art is denied” as Stray Tablet notes in the notes of the posting for “All Hail The Worm (Stage Three)” – and that’s certainly the truth.  What else can I say aside from learn to live with it?  Y’ain’t the only one when it comes to that Stray Tablet my friend…there are hundreds of thousands of folks attempting to make some kind of art that’ll never see the light of day or make music that’ll reach any sets of ears each and every day this planet rotates…and it’s always gonna be that way.  Dude’s got Modest Mouse hashtagged into this posting as well…which I get…the further you go back in their catalog, the closer you’re going to get to finding something that might sound similar to “All Hail The Worm (Stage Three)” – and if you’re into that stuff, right on I say, have at’er.  I’m a big fan of that band, but really only after that point where Isaac recognized that he wasn’t quite getting his thoughts and art across to as widespread of an audience as he wanted to…and that in order to do so, more accessibility was entirely necessary.  Once that was established, and records like Good News For People Who Love Bad News came out, you could hear the compromise that was made, sure, but you also got quality tunes that were listenable and that allowed for Brock’s wonderfully weird thoughts to get across to people in a way they could hear’em.  I feel like Stray Tablet is still searching for that recipe, and ain’t found it yet on “All Hail The Worm (Stage Three).”  There are plenty of folks out there that are Modest Mouse purists that believe the only good records from that band are their early ones…and I ain’t here to be the judge & jury on that – those albums did open the door for them to do other things later on down the road and provided them with the opportunity to evolve…if you think they did, great…if you think they didn’t, you’re wrong.  “Art is appreciated” – again, that’s accurate too.  Appreciated is different than enjoyed and/or liked though…ultimately, Stray Tablet has to dial into what the goals for this project are & how far the music is meant to travel…as it stands right now, I feel like it’s consistently making every track a fully uphill battle.

Dark dry rye bread?”  Now that IS offensive!  No one should be forced to slug that down their gullet.  Look…I feel like I’ve kinda said my piece on Stray Tablet and what it’s like to experience…and I don’t think that “Senses” is gonna be the track to change my mind on anything I’ve already said to ya so far.  At less than two-minutes in length, it’s a fairly inconsequential tune…there’s really no harm & no foul here.  There are some rad tones from the guitar, there are some neat ideas in how they’re layered into this tune, and there’s a “pickle on the side” that might even make you chuckle for a moment or two.  It is a genuine case of it is what it is though…there are “2 billion forms of input” as Stray Tablet will tell ya, and “Senses” will probably have you pining for the other 1.999,999 billion of them.  Word on the street is that “Senses” comes from a project called Not Responding…so there’s a little more information for ya.  As to what you’ll do with that information, I do not know…but I feel better now that you have it.  There’s not a whole lot to comment on when it comes to “Senses,” like I said, it just kinda is what it is…it’s short.

In many ways, what Stray Tablet creates tends to feel like it’s trolling the normal on some level.  Even with the video posting of “Not Responding” you’ll see in the brackets that it’s listed as an “award winning video” – and like…is it?  I’m not saying that’s impossible…there’s a whole lot of real shady awards out there (as in, all of them) – but yeah…again, maybe I’m just not seeing it.  “The world is not responding” says Stray Tablet…and I’ve given you my theories as to why that is.  There’s a whole lot of effort being put into these tunes at the end of the day, regardless of how any of us might feel about’em, someone out there still ended up putting a lot of time into making them presumably.  I’d be interested to know if Stray Tablet listens to Stray Tablet regularly.  It seems to me like a project that more or less wants to play some guitar for ya, with wild frequencies and tones, and then create some words that won’t make a whole lot of sense to ya to go with it all…and I suppose I have a really tough time imagining how it’s even their jam, know what I mean?  So if “the world is not responding,” my brother…I’ve outlined what you’d wanna do in order to change that…but I don’t think there’s any will, want, or desire to change in Stray Tablet.  Like I said earlier, Stray Tablet gonna do what Stray Tablet gonna do…end of story really.  There’s always going to be uniqueness…and you’ll usually find some savagely killer moments in the songs at some point too, like around the 3:45 mark in the surge of the music on “Not Responding” – but it’s super tough to argue there’s enough here to get the world responding.  Best advice I’ve got for ya Stray Tablet, is to be ambitious with that weirdness if that’s the route you’re gonna go…Frank Zappa for instance, was Progressive, weird, and ambitious to the nth degree.  Still wasn’t really my jam either, but at the very least, you could hear he stuffed his tunes as full as he could get’em with reasons to listen.

“Bender” goes back to the point I was makin’ about just wanting to rock out on guitar and noodle away.  That’s what you’ll find drives the majority of this tune, and ultimately, that’s probably what gives it the potential appeal it has.  Stray Tablet goes for a much more intentionally grating approach with the vocals that basically sounds designed to make ya uncomfortable…and that’s likely a way of making further comments on the words, which are seem like they’re encouraging at first – “bring it online, working together” and such…but with the delivery of how they’re sung, you have to assume there’s likely a much more sarcastic thread tying the words together.  Like…it’s as if what Stray Tablet is saying is the opposite of what’s being said – make sense?  Through the way it’s presented, you’d absolutely assume that Stray Tablet thinks bringing things online is actually tearing us apart instead of bringing us together.  The vocals in this tune really dirty “Bender” right up, practically beyond repair…if it wasn’t for that aspect, I’d probably be more in favor of this one given that once again, Stray Tablet has found some really clever things to do with the guitars & I like the intensity, melody, and drama.  Even in terms of what’s being said, if my assumptions and theories have been correct – I actually dig that too…but with the effects and the crunch of the distortion, Stray Tablet has kind of made this beyond most people’s palette, including my own.  As I’ve said many times on these pages of ours…do what suits the song and tap into what they’re calling for.  Stray Tablet continually chooses to go right instead of left…and while that ends up making for memorable experiences, as to whether or not they’re repeatable experiences becomes way more up for debate.  It’s more Experimental than Progressive stuff by its definition if I’m being entirely honest with ya, and that’s always a very challenging style/type of music for the masses.

“The Ones” is probably my favorite of the bunch I’d say.  It’s also got those familiar brackets of “(award winning music video)” along with the posting on YouTube…and at the very least, I’d be more inclined to give this one an award in comparison to the last one, though again, to be crystal clear, I don’t believe in awards, numbers, or most things that people do.  What I do like about “The Ones” the most I suppose, would be that Stray Tablet is using more words here…which gives us a little more to hang onto as we listen.  It’s still largely based on a lot of repetition in that regard, but less-so than the rest of what I’ve heard in this set of singles tossed my way.  There is simply more here than there normally is with the lyricism of Stray Tablet, and that’s actually a major positive.  There’s poetry buried in here…observant, insightful commentary…the stuff that makes the right kind of difference.  Does it all fit with the music and the weirdness of the Stray Tablet vibe?  I mean…you’ve read the rest of this review, right?  It fits about as much as anything else has, how about that?  I don’t need to tell Stray Tablet that it’s different – Stray Tablet knows that.  What this project needs to possibly recognize is that it’s gone so far over the edge that it’s gonna be really hard for the world to respond to it as much as Stray Tablet might like it to.  “The Ones” brings it that much closer to a possibility though…which is obviously a good thing.  I’m all for being different, being weird, being strange…but I’m also realistic in how these things are perceived and absorbed by the masses out there.  “Art is denied” when it gets too bizarre for minds to handle, and Stray Tablet proudly puts itself in that position on purpose…so it kind of has to live with the results too.

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