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 Sure, Myspace has been superseded by Facebook as the social media site of choice by the general populace, but it has remained at the heart of the independent music scene despite the social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.