Introducing: Dinosaur Pile-Up

"I Wouldn't Want To Be Piled Under A Diplodocus"

Hailed as the next big thing by indie darling radio station XFM, Dinosaur Pile-Up seem to be gradually spreading their name around the industry as the next big band to watch. The big question however is, are they any good?

Well, this 3 piece from Yorkshire are certainly trying hard, floating around the peripheries of hitting the big time since 2008. Although, surprisingly for a fresh, up and coming band, they seem to be  making their music difficult to get a hold of. Sure, Myspace has been superseded  by Facebook as the social media site of choice by the general populace, but it has remained at the heart of the independent music scene despite the social scene exodus. This is why it is so odd that only their new single, ‘Birds and Planes’ is readily available on their, seemingly well-updated, Myspace page. This could possibly be because they are trying to keep their debut, full-length album fresh to listeners, but once that September release rolls around, people will not have had much to form opinions on. The only other songs floating around for easy listening are ‘Opposites Attract’, found on a compilation album on Spotify, and ‘Birds and Planes’ B-side ‘Headspinner’, available as a free download on their website. Well, here goes nothing, how can I sum up Dinosaur Pile-Up off the back of three tracks?

If I were just giving an opinion from ‘Birds and Planes’, then I could happily call Dinosaur Pile-Up “Foo Fighters Lite” and leave it at that. Seriously, get Dave Grohl on vocals and this song would fit in without a problem on ‘One By One’ or ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’. The riffing is there, the screaming is there, even the harmonies sound like they could have been lifted straight from something by the Foos. While the overdriven bass sounds really sweet, it doesn’t do much to separate Dinosaur Pile-Up’s sound from that of the Foo Fighters. Like the difference between many bands, a lot of it comes down to the vocalist. Though possibly damning with faint praise, Dinosaur Pile-Up’s vocalist Matt Bigland sounds pop-punk-tastic. When everything else sounds so Foo Fighters, it’s a little odd for the vocals to sound so much like they would fit in on a Blink 182 tribute act.

Happily he, and the rest of the band, show a lot more depth and variety on ‘Opposites Attract’. While the Foo Fighters similarities aren’t completely gone, this track shows them a lot more as carrying the torch of grunge as a whole. Soft verse, loud chorus songwriting is in full effect here, backed-up by a filthy tone and threats of discord which happily stay on the right side of the split between moody and just plain bad. The pop-punk is one of the first influences that has obviously been thrown right out of the window, Bigland’s voice barely rising above a whisper for the majority of the track, and possessing a much welcome moan when the track escalates. The harmonies are still there, but subdued to a level where they become a disenchanted chorus rather than a jolly focal point of the song. Also, I have to commend these guys on their use of feedback, it sounds pretty damn kickass and the song would be left lacking without it. This is grunge at it’s grimiest, and they pull it off in a way that Nirvana would be proud of.

B-side ‘Headspinner’ is a track that bridges the gap between the lightness of ‘Birds and Planes’ and the thick grime of ‘Opposites Attract’, and pulls off being a better song than it’s own A-side. What starts as the epitome of simple grunge grows and grows layer upon layer of instruments and vocals until it becomes something that you wouldn’t really expect at first listen. The bittersweet chorus is a particular highlight, sounding almost like Dookie era Green Day, until the chord sequence takes ones of the grungiest chord shifts you will hear in modern music. The Foo Fighters comparisons remain in the song’s bridge, which takes its cues from songs like ‘Pretender’, but luckily, not in the obnoxious way that the band’s lead single does.

It is a real pity that Dinosaur Pile-Up chose ‘Birds and Planes’ as their lead single. From what I heard, it is definitely their weakest work, going far too far into Foo Fighters territory. You don’t mess with a band as consistent as the Foos. Where Dinosaur Pile-Up shine is where they are reopening the doors to grunge. Grunge is a genre that died a sad, slow death in the 90s and maybe, just maybe, Dinosaur Pile-Up could help it live again. They aren’t the new messiah, but they are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

SOS- Adult Situations

"The True Face Of Hard Rock"

“Adult Situations” is the 5th release from New York based rockers SOS, and even though you may not have heard of them up until now, gives good reason why you should go and search them out. If you want some backstory, then read the rest of this paragraph, if you just want to get onto what they’re like musically, and how good the album is, then feel free to skip ahead a little past the break. Formed in the good old days of the mid 90s, SOS worked the New York gig scene, working on their craft under the slogan of being “trained to rock”. A few roster changes have occurred in the period between their previous release “A Guide To Better Living”, but it doesn’t seem to caused any problems with their sound.

The fact that these guys formed in the mid 90s is an important fact to remember. If you liked the metal and grunge and punk of the late 80s and early 90s, then there’s probably something for you to like here. SOS seem to take their cures from greats such as Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, (early) Offspring and even the mighty Metallica. A good way to describe them would be what would happen if you took 90s grunge, upped the distortion and taught it how to play Master Of Puppets. Though, this metal influence pales in comparison to all the grunge going on in “Adult Situations”, it’s still undeniably there. SOS’s sound is actually a little bit of a breath of fresh air in a rock environment filled with whining metalcore and the return of the synth. Straight ahead, hard, grungy rock from a band who’ve worked to get where they are, rather than garnering success from a first release and gradually faltering more and more from expectations.

As an album, it works decently. It’s no Sgt. Peppers, or anything in the concept album ilk, but it still feels like a cohesive whole. That said, “Walk Of Shame” is a little bit of a weak opener to the release, due mostly to the bass and drum led intro in particular and the song in general having a shallower tone than the rest of the album. “Adult Situations” is a thick album, full chords put through distortion, effects all over the place, multiple guitars. It’s just a shame that the opener pushes the 90s grunge structure of soft verse/hard chorus a little too far, leaving the verses sound thin rather than soft. Gladly, this is not representative of the album as a whole. Tome heavy drumming thickens out the sound satisfyingly, and generally is backed up by deep delving basslines. The guitar runs an eclectic mix of grunge dissonance, metal riffing, almost clean lead and, on occasion, searing solo lines. This is not including the times when it’s running through a wah pedal or reduced to cleanly strummed chords. You could listen to just the guitar parts, and have a wide aural experience. Not to forget the vocals which have just the right amount of growl for the tone (think “pissed off Smashmouth”), and have vocal lines which manage to pleasantly deviate from the norm at times.

This isn’t a perfect album by any means. The 90s have come and gone, and SOS are one of the few remnants of the music of that era, other than struggling new releases from those big names SOS seem to be inspired by. This means that either there’s a big market for people who miss that sound, or that this sort of rock has died out for a reason. Personally, I’m glad to have it. Sure, a couple of the songs are a little samey, but I guess that is “Adult Situations” toeing the fine line between having a unified sound, and all of your songs being identical. Luckily, they err mostly on the side of a unified sound. I’ll be listening to these songs for a little while to come, so maybe you should give them a listen and see if you have a hankering for a band who are “trained to rock”

7.5/10

Standout Tracks:

Daddy Like

Wasteland Temptress

Hypoxyphilia

Thanks to Mike as 316 Productions for providing the album for review.