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The Dino Soars

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Album Review

The double-album-length debut by the Bay Area's Stegosaurus Rex is a sprawling wander through the last quarter-century of electronic pop music. Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Max Chen doesn't pledge allegiance to any particular subgenre, so these 18 songs skip merrily between Caribou-style indie pop ("Green"), mellow downtempo instrumentals (the soulful, slinky "East Bay Kickback"), hyper dancefloor fillers ("Polar"), hip-hop ("Sleep All Day"), experimental atmospheric soundscapes ("Blindness"), standard-issue electro-pop ("Frozen Promises"), and any other idea that comes to mind. In lesser hands, this would come off as merely unfocused, and it's certainly true that many A&R representatives would have demanded this lengthy CD be broken up into several different EPs, perhaps under different project names for ease of niche marketing. But even aside from the bravery of refusing to limit himself to one particular musical persona, Chen reveals himself to be a talented producer and a fairly solid songwriter with a particular knack for cool, mellow grooves and low-key, jazz-tinged melodies. The Dino Soars is perhaps best heard in bits and pieces (or on shuffle play), but it's a fun listen that promises better things yet to come.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic music; highest possible recommendation

In my own particular relationship with music in life, this album is the successor to great works like Eno's Another Green World and DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. Like those other two albums, Stegosaurus Rex's first album is a sprawling masterpiece that's a joy to experience. The album seems like a comfortable, interesting ENVIRONMENT of sound. This is an album to LIVE with over the years, to reexperience from time to time, to dip into to revisit certain choice cuts that remind you of distinct emotions.

In early 2010 a second bonus disc was added, yet iTunes still only charges the same price. $9.99 for two disc's worth of beautiful music is a fantastic deal.

As we go through our lives, popular music tends to mean less to us. Like many others who approach 30, I find myself unable and uninterested in keeping up with new music. I am very very glad, however, that I found Steg Rex. This is an artist who can keep up with my memories of great music from the past. From the first cut of each side of The Dino Saurs, I hear great music so instantly meaningful that feels like I've known it all my life. From time to time over the years, I've described Another Green World as "the album I'd want to LIVE in", because the sonic environment Eno produced sounds so wonderful, neat and beautiful. I find myself thinking similar thoughts about The Dino Saurs.

If you're at all thinking of whether or not you want to buy the album, go for it. You won't be disappointed in the least and may well, as I did, find the best album you've heard in years.

Instant Classic

This album has so many ingredients marking its destiny for greatness. It's a solo effort from an Asian-American artist who grew up during the Tiananmen Square conflict in China who took refuge in the USA. Being from that era, he caught the tailwind of 80's music, particularly the later years of 1989-93 when pop music was expanding from rock into electro and hip-hop. These years brought the likes of Depeche Mode's Violator ('90), Automatic by Gary Numan ('89), KMD - Mister Hood ('91) Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - No Need for Alarm ('93) and Brian Eno - Another Green Wold ('90). Synths, loops and beats would take over as home studio artists rose up from suburbia to the streets, settling in the studio apartment.

Stegosaurus Rex himself has christened himself to be from all three walks of life. Having been raised in the Balboa region of San Diego, he spent his teen years in suburban East Bay livign and later on in the apartments of Berkeley. Rex has taken the music he grew up with and build new compounds from it. Tracks are simple and moody. The experience of terrifying and horrific events seem to drain out like simple pleasures and audial escapes reconstructed as a paradise for the mind. All intellect aside, the goal of each track seems self-fufilling, standing alone in genres reaching from Spaghetti Western (Gauchos Caesura) to IDM (Mike Myers). When tracked up together, the album is like a jumbled box of unconstructed puzzle pieces moving independently of one another, some loosely connected and many stacked upon each other which when viewed in this way, represents a much more complicated whole than the completed puzzle.

Deal of the Year.

This music is beautiful and unique, plus its the best deal on itunes, 37 tracks for 10 bucks, don't miss out on this one.

Also East Bay in the house right here, Keep doing yout thing Stego, you've got a life long supporter in me.

The Dino Soars, Stegosaurus Rex
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Electronic, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2010
  • Parental Advisory

Customer Ratings