Dinosaur Feathers - Whistle Tips (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dinosaur Feathers

Whistle Tips (2012)

Ernest Jennings Record Co.

Indie rock act Dinosaur Feathers began as a college a cappella group, and it shows throughout the group's sophomore effort Whistle Tips. Openers "Young Bucks" and "SURPRISE!" boast layers of thundering drums and guitar noise, but it's the vocal arrangements that leave the bigger impression. At their best, Dinosaur Feathers recall the '60s hits of the Hollies and the Rascals, although that's something the group can't quite sustain through Whistle Tips.

That one two-punch of "Young Bucks" and "SURPRISE!" are the highlights. These two tracks are dazzling technical displays, endlessly hooky. But, perhaps sensing they couldn't perform an album's worth of this kind of singing live, the members start to segue out of such vocal pyrotechnics by the third track, the limp "Boats." This song is almost like a pallet cleanser, however, as the record's middle aims for heavier indie rock fare with a slightly ambient quality. "Certain Times" has some gnarly guitar noise. "City Living" goes for Flaming Lips-ish space-pop, as does "Beatcha." Also, all of these tracks are interconnected.

The record's second half skews towards cleaner songwriting, something akin to Vampire Weekend, regrettably. It's not bad stuff, but after the genre-hopping and aural overload of the record's first half, Whistle Tips feels a little too safe in its final 15 minutes or so. There's still a '60s rock vibe, but it's just so toned down by comparison.

"Your Move," a sub-two-minute psych-rocker, rights the boat slightly, but by this point the record is nearly over. After the relatively epic closer "No Man's Gospel," Whistle Tips ends without really regaining the momentum of its first two tracks. The rest of the record is pretty solid, but it just keeps getting more and more conventional with each track.