Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Left Turn on Red is the newest album from Jersey rockers Dinosaur Eyelids. Left Turn is the group’s fourth album but the first one I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The album arrives at the tail end of a year that has seen some amazing releases from Jersey bands so it truly the perfect way to cap off a stellar year. Left Turn on Red features production by Machine who has worked with such groups as Fall Out Boy, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, Clutch, and Lostprophets (back when it was okay to work with Lostprophets).

I found Left Turn on Red to be a pretty rocking but slightly uneven album. There were some elements that I found slightly odd but overall the album is some pretty kickass rock and roll. At times the group really reminds me of that great 90’s grungy garage band rock. It’s fucking loud and outstanding to boot.  I want to have them over in my backyard and keep the neighbors up until 4AM. If I had to describe their music to someone who may know comparable music I would say Dinosaur Eyelids are a great mixture of Stone Temple Pilots fronted by Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon.

There are two outstanding tracks which stand out from the rest. The breadwinner of the album is a track called L.A. Lady which is a bit slower when compared to the rest of the album. The song is simply phenom and the group almost sound Zeppelinesque in their delivery. Standing toe to toe with L.A. Lady is the ninth track titled No Money Blues. It’s another slow song but one that gels together so smoothly thanks to singer Evan Staats’ amazing vocals and some fantastic harmonica playing. This track really shows what Dinosaur Eyelids are capable of and if you listen to just these two tracks the album is already well worth the money.

I’m going to stay on Staats for a moment because I think he is a great talent with an amazing voice. There is a track like No Money Blues where I am completely blown away by his vocals. The man is truly fantastic. But then I listen to other tracks and I grow a bit puzzled by the results. I’m going to try to explain. There is a track early on called Basilone Bridge where the band is thrashing under the triple guitar threat of Staats, guitarist Patrick McKnight, and bassist Mark Leone. The instrumentation is fantastic (I’m going to also throw in that the drumming by Dan Fishtein is incredible throughout the entire album) and Staats’ singing here is still great. But for some reason the vocals and the music together just didn’t fit right to me. Like if I took the vocal track away from the music you would stand there and say, “Yeah. Sounds great!” But put together it just sounded off to me. I don’t mean to say that Staats is off key because that isn’t the case. I felt the same way about another great track called More Than Nothing. I don’t know if it is something in the production. I don’t know if it is just my ears after too many years of “Don’t listen to your music so loud!” I’m just not sure.

There are two more songs featuring harmonica that I also felt that it took away slightly from the music. I listened to Whiskey and Sourland Wind multiple times and I came to the conclusion that it is just me and not actually the band. Whiskey is a gorgeous acoustic song that is both beautiful and haunting. For me Whiskey would have been the best song on the album but I thought the harmonica took away from the song. Does the harmonica sound bad? No. The harmonica is actually played quite well. But I thought the harmonica took away from the rest of the song. I don’t want to sound like I’m some asshole who is sitting here nitpicking. I’m sure most would listen to the song and say, “Ryan you are a nutcase.” I felt the same with Sourland Wind where I enjoyed everything about the song except the harmonica.  Maybe I am a nutcase.

Here’s the thing: No Money Blues is one of my favorite songs and the harmonica sounds WONDERFUL in the track. It really gels for me. The entire song is just great. So why does one song sound so good with the harmonica yet the other two songs with a harmonica not appeal to me? I dunno. Maybe I’m just musically bipolar.  I do want to point out one other song called Neshanic which starts off a bit slower then launches into some kickass rock with some stellar guitar work. This track is outstanding and is another standout.

I’ve had Left Turn on Red for a couple weeks now and I’ve listened to this album all the way through multiple times without reviewing it. I needed time to digest as I feel this album has many layers to it.  I really dug it and the aspects I didn’t like really don’t take away from the music overall. After multiple listens that is my determination. I truly think that this is just a great album by a killer group that may not be super polished.

Is that a bad thing? Fuck no. Because Left Turn on Red is certainly not overproduced crap and I really think that the album is able to stand on its own two legs to provide a truly memorable musical experience overall.  Some great lyrics with amazing instrumentation. Insanely good driving music. It’s a damn shame the album came out in the winter because I would love to wait until dark, put all the windows down, crank up the volume really high, and drive really fast down a empty highway. When April and May come round? Pretty sure I will be digging Left Turn on Red out, throwing it into the CD player, and probably getting a speeding ticket. One thing for certain is that I can’t wait to see Dinosaur Eyelids live. Something tells me these guys probably put on one kickass show.


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