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Album Review: Princess Dinosaur - A Goldfish And His Friends

Princess Dinosaur is a musical side-project of sorts for Gatsby's American Dream man, Nick Newsham and Nick Vombrack of the less well-known, Dr Manhattan. In some-ways the fact this EP even exists is a miracle, as band members live in the West Coast and the Midwest respectively. Recorded in two separate locations and amalgamated by producer Casey Bates, this debut EP is six tracks of low key indie rock, in the vein of Brand New and Owen. It's the kind of music that you could just stick on during a hazy afternoon to wind you down. There's nothing on the EP that’s too loud or unusual, which is good for the listener, but not too great for the band, who presumably want to stand out.

The vulnerability and faint quiver of Nick's vocals at the start of 'Oak Island' is akin to that deployed by Conor Oberst in Bright Eyes. ‘Oak Island’ is very similar to the acoustic tracks on 'Déjà Entendu', from the instrumentation to the screamed vocals in the background; it is only the vocals that distinguish this as Princess Dinosaur. Next track, 'Yeah Sure', is an upbeat college-rock track, that is perhaps the most unique on the album. There's little hint of their influences on this one, and it ultimately serves to make the track more memorable. ‘Yeah Sure’ is catchy enough to be a single, but doesn’t really encapsulate the brooding nature of the rest of the EP. The slightly- political opening sentiment of next track 'Steamy Dreams', is soon forgotten, as it’s hard to focus on anything other than the way the vocals grate on this track. There's some nice soft instrumentation in the background, in the vein of, but not ripping off Owen, but it's hard to get past the vocals. A large number of the notes are over-held, and leaves you willing the track to finish.

'Electricty' starts with some haunting off-key piano, and Nick's distinctive vocals. There is an almost industrial feel to this track, with the rhythm of the drums sounding like a piece of machinery and the echo effects on the vocals being maximised. Like a number of the other tracks, this one is about a minute too long and quite dull. The guitar, bass and drums on ‘Hares And Bears’ sound like a pop song, but the vocal’s once again change the feel of the song. By this point in the EP, the quiver and vulnerability, has become forced and just about bearable. That said, ‘Hares and Bears’ is one of the better tracks on the EP. The positivity created by the instrumentation is great, and if there was a way of muting the vocals it would be fantastic. ‘Scaring The Kids’ would be better titled ‘Boring The Kids’. The song is so incredibly dull it’s hardly worth mentioning other than to say, it’s a good job it wasn’t at the start of the EP, as I doubt anyone would listen to it.

Princess Dinosaur have taken the best bits of Owen and Brand New, and ignored them; choosing instead to focus on the questionable parts of their influences and magnifying them by a hundred. There are a few positives to take from this EP, ‘Yeahsure’ is a great track and some of the instrumentation is good, but that’s about it. If you are a fan of either Gatsby’s American Dream or Dr Manhattan, it may be worth picking up out of curiosity, but otherwise avoid.


'A Goldfish and His Friends' by Princess Dinosaur is available soon.

Princess Dinosaur on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Dan Issitt

Alter The Press!