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CD Review: Stoley P.T. – Lesson #1

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Yesterday, the Pea Pod staff attacked Clear Channel’s underwater fortress. Aaron took advantage of his diminutive stature by climbing into a heating duct. He crawled through the castle walls until he came upon the secret radio control room, which was filled with guardian robots. Aaron poked his head out of a ceiling vent and coated the robots with molten lead. In the uproar that followed, the rest of us Podders were able to shoot, stab, and knee-face-bash our way to the central room. We then guarded the doors, brandishing two AKs apiece, until the entire Clear Channel staff had either fled or perished. MPP ain’t nothing to fuck with.

So! Here we are, suddenly in control of the radio. We get to decide what songs America hears. Get ready for your new diet: all Residents, all the time. Unless Aaron wrests control of the boards, in which case you’re going to get all Lucksmiths, all the time.

Not really. If rock radio played nothing but the Residents starting tomorrow, riots and murders would sweep the nation. MPP can fill the airwaves with music that’s creative and interesting, but it must also be reasonably radio-friendly. This is where Stoley P.T. comes in.

In a better world, Stoley P.T. would be the very definition of “radio-friendly.” Their music is catchy, energetic, and easy for anybody to relate to. They pull this off without ever pandering to the lowest common denominator. Lesson #1, their debut album, has a very broad appeal, and yet it isn’t bland. No mean feat.

Not only that, but Lesson #1 would actually make sense within Clear Channel’s current rotation. The album is post-grunge, if post-grunge weren’t the musical equivalent of watching puppies being tortured to death. Stoley P.T. does the masculine tense verse/overdriven chorus thing. However, unlike their awful, awful contemporaries Nickleback and Puddle of Mudd (or more fairly, Stone Temple Pilots), they keep their music unpredictable and the singer isn’t constipated. At best, their melodies have unique personalities; at worst, they’re still plenty catchy.

And then there’s the dissonance. This record contains loads of high, shrill, dissonant guitars. Not just noisy solos, but coloring over the verses and choruses themselves, making the songs a little more interesting and a little harder rockin’. It won’t blow your mind; anyone born in the ’80s has already heard infinitely more terrifying guitar noise on In Utero. Stoley P.T. just likes a little tasteful weirdness decorating their alternative rock. Lesson #1 could serve as a great transitional album, carrying listeners from Incubus to the Pixies.

When I say that Stoley P.T. should be the ultimate radio-friendly band, I mean that as a compliment. However, it does also imply that they are never too challenging or creative. There’s no true innovation here — just an assimilation of influences. But so is 99% of music, and they’ve picked a good combination of influences that haven’t really been done before, to my knowledge. Stoley P.T. has created a unique sound derived from good sources. Hopefully on their next album, they will add something truly their own.

Reviewed by David Koenig

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