Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dinosaur Bones: "Shaky Dream" (album review)

After building a strong following with their debut full length, My Divider, melodramatic Toronto indie rockers Dinosaur Bones return on August 6th with Shaky Dreams.

The fans they won with their first record will be pleased, as there's little evolution on the new album.  Conversely, for folks like me, who found My Divider to be bland and listless, there isn't a lot that rescues Shaky Dreams.

The album opener wastes no time in revealing the album's main weakness: the vocals.  Often sounding like a muffled Julian Casablancas, the vocals are so far back in the mix that it exposes the lack of imagination in the arrangements as well.  Without the vocals focal point, tracks like "Spins In Circles" are hardly noticeable for their blandness.

The rhythm section packs precious little punch.  With the exception of the bottom-heavy modern Arena rocker "Nothing Left Between the Lines", it's a deflated sound that plagues the record.  At times, like on "Pacifist In Camouflage", it plods with no end in sight.

In fact, with the exception of the guitars, the album is nearly catatonic.  The guitars manage to avert complete disaster.  They are delightfully menacing on "Career Criminal".  On "Don't Decide" they are incendiary, packing a Neil Young-type wallop.

It's not as though the band is untalented.  They show how good they could be (if they chose) on "Sleepsick".  The clattering rock is welcome, as is the booming chorus.  It's quite the palate cleanser for this set.

Two albums of overwrought, slow moving rock (and questionable vocal quality) and it's pretty clear that I don't think I will ever be a fan of Dinosaur Bones.

Best tracks: "Sleepsick", "Don't Decide"

Track listing for Shaky Dreams:
  • Dreamer's Song
  • Spins In Circles
  • Sleepsick
  • Nothing Left Between the Lines
  • Go Free
  • Career Criminal
  • So Brand New
  • Don't Decide
  • Pacifists In Camouflage
  • End of Life Crisis

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