There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and this is especially true for Bypass To Nowhere, Dinosaur Eyelids’ new album. The front cover shows a black-and-white burning dystopia, highlighted by a man in makeshift riot gear. His shield sports the album’s title in graffiti. If you didn’t know them, you’d probably think they were either a hardcore rap group or a Rage Against The Machine tribute band. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, though, as Bypass To Nowhere sounds more like a mix between The Offspring and The Replacements, with a hint of Led Zeppelin and R.E.M. Vocalist Evan Staats brings the twang of Michael Stipe, the grungy rasp of Dexter Holland, and the breathiness of Paul Westerberg. Patrick McKnight’s guitar shredding is reminiscent of Jimmy Page, with some classic blues and Americana thrown in to boot.
Dinosaur Eyelids’ release can rightly be described as rock and roll, as they incorporate almost all types of the landmark genre into their music, from grunge to indie and even some punk. One of their defining traits is making the best use of bassist Scott Staats; while many rock bands relegate the bassist to playing the low end of chord structures, Staats is given free reign as he invents melodies, grooves, and brings a sound that does nothing but add value to the music. “Talkin’ To Me,” the album’s opening track, is a fast-paced assault led by Evan Staats’ melodic vocals and Scott Staats’ crunchy bass soloing. At a little under two minutes long, it introduces Bypass To Nowhere in a whirlwind of punk-influenced noise that leaves you wanting more.
“Vernal Equinox” is one of the band’s stronger songs, mixing Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” with The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” It combines a visceral, almost tribal drumming, heavily distorted guitar textures, and breaks of overwhelming heaviness juxtaposed by low key bluesy verses. When you think of rock and roll, this track definitely exemplifies it. “Hate And Love” is greatly influenced by grunge, or more specifically, Soundgarden, starting off as a quiet, acoustic song, but quickly building up to a loud, heavy wail punctuated by chaotic guitar solos.
Many groups have claimed to be rock and roll, and while they undoubtedly were, very few can exemplify the scene’s various monumental sounds successfully in one album. This New Brunswick, New Jersey-based band has set the bar high for themselves, but with a raw talent like theirs, blowing away expectations seems like something they’re used to.
In A Word: Rocking