Album Reviews:

Stegosaurus?’s “Self-Titled”

April 13th, 2010 by

Who killed the dinosaurs? Was it a meteor and subsequent climate change? Maybe Sarah Palin did. I’m not sure. However, after listening to the new album from local rock band Stegosaurus? I do know that these terrible lizards are killing it. Still not sure if they had anything to do with the dinosaur thing, though.

Stegosaurus? offer rock music with a sense of humor and teeth. They don’t play songs as much as slay the dinosaur, butcher it, devour the prime cuts, and screw the bones back together for your little cousin to gawk at. By that I mean they think about angles for songs that other bands might not, which is a refreshing change from typical rock acts.

The album immediately attacks your eardrums with “Stegosaurus National Anthem”; a pseudo-rap/rock tune that has some pretty funny lyrics, including some digs at Shanghai’s most famous mustachioed rocker and writer. Don’t poke the sleeping dragon, boys.

The next song is the aptly titled “The Sappy Song”, which features ringing guitars, a broken drumbeat, a seriously karaoke-worthy hook, and another tight rap. I especially like the part right after the rap where they increase the speed of the hook’s lyrics and then close with a beautiful outro.

Another highlight on the album is a re-working of the theme song from the old Batman television show. The song builds and builds, climaxing with a humorous sound piece that seems culled from various superhero movies, but is really done by the band. The song devolves into a good, old-fashioned scream-fest, just as it should.

“English” is a seriously catchy song that I could see becoming an inspirational anthem for prospective English students. Maybe they can sell it to EF.

“Brains” is your typical song about going over to your girlfriend’s house, discovering she has turned into a zombie, getting bitten by her, and roaming the streets together, forming a legion of undead. Come on, guys, tell us one we haven’t heard before!

“Qingwen Wode Pengyou” (“Please Ask My Friend”) showcases the band’s linguistic dexterity, being sung, as it is, all in Chinese. I want to kill the band for this track because I have not been able to get the refrain out of my head since I first heard it. My wife might also like to administer a couple of kicks to the ribs because she must listen to me relentlessly droning on with it.

These are the high points of the Stegosaurus? album. If I had to, I would point out that the album contains 15 songs and runs almost an hour. It is an impressive length, but I’m not sure about the girth. What I mean is, I think they could have dropped a couple of tracks that might not have been missed. Then again, I have the attention span of a hummingbird; so normal people will probably enjoy the entire duration.

The sound quality of the album is very good overall. The incomparable Adam Gaensler, of Luwan Rock fame, did the mixing and mastering. If I had to nitpick, though, I would bring the drums to the forefront a little bit more. To my ears, they sound a bit distant. The drumming itself is very good.

I also really enjoy the harmonies on the songs. They are always on-point and never off-key. That is a real band strength. The Chinese portions of the album are entertaining, too. They play well to native audiences who always seem titillated to hear laowai singing in Chinese. Could we have our first local crossover hit on our hands?

By and large, Stegosaurus? have made a damn fine record, which is no small feat when working without a net, as they are. I urge you to attend their CD release party featuring Dragon Pizza, Baby 13, Rainbow Danger Club, Boys Climbing Ropes (and pizza!). The CD is free to all paying customers and you might find out about the mysterious dinosaur killer.


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