Monday, November 14, 2011

Pterodactyl: Spills Out Spills Out Tomorrow (Couldn't Resist That Headline!)

Pterodactyl release their third album, Spills Out, tomorrow (November 15th) and it's...what is it!?!

I love listening to stuff that defies categorization but writing about that stuff ends up being a harder task.

I really can't write about Pterodactyl without resorting to some lazy comparisons.

Back in 1983 or so, I recall reading some interview with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and the writer made a point of noting that Stipe had two different stereos going simultaneously in his house. The sound of those two separate turntables playing upstairs and downstairs at the same time was probably close to what you'll hear on Spills Out by Pterodactyl.

Album opener "School Glue" cranks along, some weird mix of Flaming Lips and Hawkwind, and a listener is just bulldozed into submission.

It's the combination of loveliness and force that makes the music of Pterodactyl so interesting.

"Searchers" is more melodic and accessible. Think Modest Mouse meets Elf Power. It's less clanging and more soaring in some weird way.

Drums anchor -- or should I say, drive? -- "Hold Still" and it's that eerie effect again, like a high school marching band playing behind some Eighties indie record.

"Nerds" continues that vibe but the melody is stronger somehow. In some weird alternate reality, "Nerds" would be a Top 40 hit.

Things are not all odd mixes and noise here; "Spills In" slows things down and that leads into "Allergy Shots" and "The Hole Night" and the 1, 2, 3-slow-burn crafts an almost ambient vibe for that section of the record.

Pterodactyl are a schizophrenic lot and I reckon that a lot of people are going to be put off by that. Frankly, it's not entirely an easy listen but I think the band is remarkably melodic and accessible in their own weird way.

Maybe it's just me? I've got odd tastes, admittedly.

What I also appreciated about Spills Out is that the record sounds like it was recorded live. The instruments and vocals are mixed clearly without a lot of trickery. The drums are prominent with album-closer "Aphasia" recalling something off that awesome third Peter Gabriel solo album; "Intruder" spun into oblivion by a rocking three-piece.

Spills Out is hard to describe but it is truly one of the best American records of 2011. Taken in pieces, these songs are wildly inventive and unique. As a whole, the effect is somewhat mixed with half of the record up-tempo stompers and the other half more moody bits.

Still, play one or two of these tunes at a time and I'm sure you'll be rushing out to grab your more astute friends to hip them to this awesome band.

If you get it, Pterodactyl's music is the sort of thing you must tell others about.

You can buy Spills Out on CD from Amazon here, or on vinyl from Amazon here, or as an MP3 download from Amazon here.

Additionally, check your other favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailers. And check iTunes too.

Follow Pterodactyl on Brah Records here.

And follow the band on their own website: