Hearing Aide: Dinowalrus “Fairweather”

An album created by a band with a, simply put, different name like Dinowalrus, is sure to hold something different musically. Their soon to be released album, Fairweather, set to drop September 23rd 2016,  is definitely one of a kind. The band congregates loads of influences into one, light and airy yet powerful tone that skillfully uses contradicting sounds to create a psychedelic, electronic rock, punk dance voice. It pulls from a mouthful of influences and the album shows it, but it’s not distractingly busy in terms of instrumentals. One might even call it easy listening. Others will call it party music. And the fact that it’s not easily defined makes the album pretty special.

The group of eclectic musicians from Brooklyn started to dabble with their sound in 2008, releasing several albums and touring with a number of groups including Real Estate, Screaming Females and A Place to Bury Strangers. When asked what inspires their song writing process, they said, “Songs always start with a beat and bass line that moves us in a new and different way than anything we’ve done before, then layers of synths and guitars expand intuitively on top of that, finally vocal hooks and lyrics drop into our heads when we least expect it, usually while lulled into a trance by riding the subway around our hometown of NYC.”

A big part of their tone is the contradicting  instruments. Their drums and bass lines are driving and pushing through measures non-stop. They’re tight, driving and consistent while almost all other aspects of their tracks are at first, unexpected. The synthesizers are legato; long and flowing. Same goes for their vocals. Visually, this album is a gargantuan wall of bass and beats with wisps of melodies and harmonies seeping through the cracks.

The first track, “Tides”, is quite different than the remaining songs, maybe to ease the listener into more intense sounds. It’s a feel-good song with a major tonality but the bass and drum tracks make it a bit more energetic. The sound of the track stays pretty consistent throughout, but pulls out some unexpected stops, like a fairly distorted guitar solo that keeps things interesting. But the formula seems to be repeated throughout the album.

This is not to say each song sounds the same. Each beat is different as well as the key and tempo, among other things,  but the direction of the song is always locked in. In other words, one gets a sense of what the rest of the song will be like within the first 30 seconds of listening to it.

“Falling Into the Periphery” and “Plain Sight” are similar as well. The vocal hooks are what differentiates the songs if the listener isn’t fully invested in the track. Sometimes a synth or guitar lick will mark the different songs, but the beats themselves, although very important to the unique tone they make, lie dormant and simple in the recording.

“Guilty” is where things start to get a little more interesting. There’s a few subtle things like a few key changes and momentary deletes in the bass track to give the sound more perspective. One of the most unexpected parts of any of the tracks, is an incredible shredding guitar solo that comes from nowhere but is unbelievably fitting for this sound. There is also a very prominent vocal addition that simply sounds awesome all together.

“Light Rain”; Once again the guitar solo’s are the highlight of the track. They stand out the most, almost more than the synth and vocal hooks and it’s because the timbre doesn’t fit the electric and spacey sound that’s prominent throughout every song.

“Scarcity” is unique to the album right from the get-go. It’s direction is more unpredictable as compared to other tracks which is very refreshing. The harmony, being lead mainly by the guitar, is a very nice change of pace, giving the song more of a not so traditional rock band feel, while still having traces of electronic dance to it.

“Final Wave” is definitely an attention grabber because of how different it is from the synthesizer focused tracks. The vocals are also a tad less spacey but still sound flowing and the tone is more instrumentally organic. The sound isn’t as busy as previous tracks, which are a result of layers and layers of instrument recordings. “Compass Rose” is the same way. It’s more streamlined and simplified, a bit less intense, but still has the same effect of energizing the listener in a grounded way. The guitar solos are still  one of the most grabbing parts of the track and the songs wouldn’t be as energizing without them.

“Silent Earth” reverts back to the timbre at the beginning of the album, soft sounds but powerful grooves. It doesn’t move in any direction and is fairly predictable but definitely puts the listener in a trance. The consistent sound is very encompassing and is best appreciated with a set of good headphones on because the sound circles around the listener’s head making for a not so energetic but interestingly deep track.

“The Painted Desert” offers an acoustic guitar based intro that is a nice change of pace for the electronically centered band. The intensity of the bass and drums cuts in and out to give some perspective  which makes the chorus’s that much more appreciated because there’s an obvious peak rather than one long one.

The album is truly one of a kind with such  a wide array of instrumental color and genre influence, but there are several songs that aren’t as engaging and energizing as the band may have hoped for. Granted, very few artists can achieve a perfect album. But the songs that find that perfect combination are definitely something worth listening to.

Key Tracks: Tides, Scarcity, Final Wave