Leeds band Dinosaur Pile-Up will be hitting up Monster Energy’s Carolina Rebellion in May. The group is comprised of Matt Bigland on vocals and guitar, Mike Sheils on drums, and Jim Cratchley on bass. Together, they churn up and out boisterous alternative music that is just as fun to move to as it is to listen. They released their latest album, Eleven Eleven, under SO Recordings in October 2015. This morning, it paired nicely with a cold brew.
Eleven Eleven begins like a rubber ball attached to an elasticized string being bounced off a wooden paddle. The inclusion of the colon in the title of “11:11” and the simple syntax of the lyrics give it a biblical feel. If the album is the universe, “11:11” is the big bang. The series of paired 1s ardently reiterates the musical explosion that is happening with Dinosaur Pile-Up, with an ever-widening blast range. (Perhaps I should brush up on Boolean logic.)
Like a snorting bull ready to run, “Red and Purple” muscles its way through the speakers with guitar layered thick like meat on a deli sandwich. Matt’s vocals and that guitar-bass delivery evoke the nameless vestige of something I heard a lot in the 90s, somewhere between The Offspring (who will also be at Carolina Rebellion, btw), Smashmouth, and Blink-182. This paints the band as a group of young guys that like to make a wonderful, raucous noise. With a Yorkshire accent – how exotic, yet comforting like a gustatory glimpse of rarebit!
Eleven Eleven continues with “Grim Valentine” bobbing along darkly like a buoy in the River Aire, and the loud sound of “Friend of Mine”. In the latter, Matt’s vocals drip with the earnest power of a young Mick Jagger. Then, ”Nothing Personal” comes on fast like a cargo train and as impersonally interactive as that useless game app you allow access to your phone. In other words, “Nothing Personal” is a rather personal song that is ultimately fun to listen to and delightfully riling.
Dinosaur Pile-Up has a marvelous ability to write songs that are propelled through time by the drums, bass, and guitar, but, with an arresting vocal delivery. Towards the end of “Anxiety Trip”, the entire band dives headfirst into an underworld of flickering lighting and total guitar immersion. I’m talking swimming in a sea of sound, inadvertently twisting yourself up in the strings, then realizing, like desperation in a hot dog eating contest, the only way out is the way you came in. Let your guard down and you’ll hear something good.
From the opening notes of “Might As Well”, the listener gets a premonition that fun ensues. The drums and vocals hang their hats on the guitar’s melody. As the chorus emerges, the bass pulls it all together like puff pastry between layers of lemon cream. Matt’s vocals have a wailing Tom Petty quality, purveying the uneven odds of a man-against-the-world. Might as well give it a shot. “Gimme Something” is the perfect track for those individuals who do not yet have forehead wrinkles. The song is loud in a proclamation of unabashed youth, a minute and a half of a demand screamed onto an electric platform. I wonder how many people will lose teeth to this song.
Fast and loud from the beginning, “Bad Penny” speaks to the denigrating words that are thrown at people from the time they are young. These two words in particular, “Bad Penny”, seem to hint at something intensely personal that used to malign that person, but at the same time, using a monetary term indicates that there is at least some value there. This, understandably, can get confusing (especially to a young mind, I would imagine), but as tarnished as it may be, a penny always has some value. Unless you’re in Canada.
Two years ago I was proselytized at by a guy referred to as the “Screamin’ Preacher”. He wasn’t pushy, he just gave me a CD to listen to. While the rhetoric about a “lake of fire” did not sway me from my established understanding of the universe [I wonder, had it been devoid of an explanation of how, exactly, a body of water was able to burn “eternal (notwithstanding the annoying use of a resultative adjective in that position), would it have been any more credible?], the preacher’s prosody was impressive. “Crystalline” does something that the Screamin’ Preacher did so well in the CD he gave me: get the listener to lean in by speaking really quietly, then, when they’re at the edge of their seats simply in an effort to decode your message, deliver the final blow with full sound. As a result, the gravity of your message is emphasized. Like that feeling that floods your lower extremities when you take off your heels – grateful for sudden comfort, the renewed sole-ground connection leads you to feel the ground more firmly than before.
Anchored by melody, “Willow Tree” addresses the orderliness of nature that, invisible to the human eye, occurs nonetheless. Reminds me of the Searle I was reading yesterday: “Without abstraction and idealization there is no systematization.” Music tackles themes of human existence that transcend language and those other things that are too meta for us to possibly grasp. This, in turn, puts musicians in the position of alchemists, who, through their abstraction and addressing of objects, are able to bring order to the world. (Makes me wonder about the musical background of those currently in political power.)
“Cross My Heart” has the smooth sailing feeling of the first scene of a romantic comedy aimed at teenagers. (Tree-lined streets and limited responsibility.) Which is just as well, as it is a song of infatuation. But the way the guitar solo plays out, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt were singing to his instrument. Dinosaur Pile-Up is young, full of heart, and great at making the most enjoyable breed of music.
2017 Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion
Whether you prefer to simply listen and retreat to the inner recesses of your consciousness or you are ready to animatedly appreciate Dinosaur Pile-Up, their show at Carolina Rebellion is bound to be supremely satisfying. Add Eleven Eleven to your Music Library, and I’ll see you at the show!
In 2016, Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion had another record breaking year with over 90,000 fans in attendance. If you missed last year’s Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion take a look at our coverage of Day One and Days Two & Three.