posted on May.18, 2012
Release Number: 2nd
Hailing From: Brooklyn, NY
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Ernest Jennings Record Co.
Brooklyn’s only wedding band specializing in elopements is back and even after three years, Dinosaur Feathers’ debut album, Fantasy Memorial, still holds up. It’s still my favorite album by a smaller local artist in recent years. It was full of charm, it was fairly unique, and the musicianship was excellent. It was a happy album full of vocal harmonies and interesting melodies. When Whistle Tips came across my desk, I was understandably excited to give it a listen.
Ultimately, I was a little disappointed. However, I want to be clear, this is not a bad album, it’s just not as good as it could have been. The album puts much less focus on group vocals. The lead vocalist now has to carry some of the tracks and he’s mostly up to the task. The album starts off on a good note. “Young Bucks” harkens back to the days of Fantasy Memorial, with it’s insistent jovial sound that’s uplifting and full of plenty of harmonies. But when “SURPRISE!” starts you can hear the newer sound they’ve worked into their album. There’s more persistent percussion and the album has a more rock feel.
Some have praised it as a more lively sound, making the tracks feel more alive. I’m going to have to disagree. When I compare songs like “Boats” and “History Lessons” (from Fantasy Memorial) there’s no question as to what is more lively. To be fair “Boats” is a slower song but even more upbeat tracks like “Certain Times” just lack the charm and energy that the debut had. The use of live drums instead of a drum machine should have been a great addition to the band and when the drums are well integrated, it is but on the tracks that fall flat, like “Certain Times” and “City Living,” they stand out and sound out of place. Mostly, the tracks that feature the newer sound just feel like more generic pop songs that are stripped of some of the characteristics that made their debut so memorable for me.
It’s not all bad news though. Songs like “Beatcha” and “Untrue” offer a nice balance between the two. Vocals on “Beatcha” are stretched to their limits but the band pulls it off. The percussion is well integrated and they make effective use of rising and falling melodies. “Untrue,” like “Young Bucks,” is similar to songs off of Fantasy Memorial. While “Pillars” and “No Man’s Gospel” offer simpler songs that are full of traditional Dinosaur Feathers energy and are very catchy while also trying out different styles of vocals and instrumentation.
There are plenty of bright spots on this album like “Beatcha” and “Young Bucks” but there’s nothing on this album that can stand up to the stand out tracks on Fantasy Memorial like “Family Waves” and “Vendela Vida.” There’s also a fair amount of tracks that just don’t work and just sound mediocre.
Ultimately, Whistle Tips is a disappointment, plain and simple but I’m not going to call it quits on Dinosaur Feathers yet. They have proven themselves in the past and they are a young, unknown band with the freedom to rebound.
– Matthew Jannetti, Music Director