Audio Reviews
Pteradon EP
by Pteradon
Phat N Phunky Phonics (2006)
Pteradon EP
8 / 10
Formerly known as November Trials, San José's Pteradon recently dropped their old moniker in favour of something more prehistoric. Fortunately, the songs remain the same---they still provide an upbeat shot of strident post-punk riffs and driving percussion with a smattering of guitar-rock noodling. As ever, Max Feshbach's forceful drumming lays the groundwork, Ian Silber brings the rock with his riffs and chords, and Morgan Herrell holds it down bass-wise while tearing it up vocally. Think equal parts Minus the Bear, the Ghost, and Lifter Puller with a little Fugazi and Thin Lizzy thrown in for good measure.

"Broadway" leads in with the tell-tale squeal of guitar feedback before dropping into a weighty bass riff and spastic drum roll, punk-rock staples that would feel perfectly at home with the likes of Dillinger Four or Beatsteaks. Crooner "Milk Milk Lemonade" eases back ever so slightly with an all-too-brief strummed intro that quickly segues into bright 3/4 metal-inspired riffs and brassy percussion with a subtle low-end, only to swap out for an acoustic guitar-aided outro:

"Do you feel / the false jubilation at being stripped of all you hold dear? / You can't drive, you can't win, you can't do anything. / It's all your fault. / This / way you can't hurt anything, / this / way when you burst at the seems you will / know / it's all your fault. / Walk out / and walk out..."

"Contraband" ratchets it up again with some post-punk vitriol, thriving on its punchy percussion and crowd-friendly chorus. While Pteradon may sport plenty of hefty back-beats and three-cord verse/chorus arrangements, they're not afraid to indulge in finger-taps, staccato rhythms, and sung-spoken vocals. "Iron Lung" is the best example so far of how Pteradon fuses their collective influences, pulsing forward with stop-start rhythms, upbeat taps, light hi-hat, and reserved, rambling vocals:

"Getting worn out by the gallery and I won't forget history. / I never used to drink. / Sister Jenny says it's all about the subjective, move it over to the objective and the nominative case / and the present tense. / Then you can think straight, / I can't even think straight."

All the same, the chorus is pure punk-rock, with heavy toms, chords, and sing-along-friendly shouted vox. Next up, "Urban Pirate Style" borrows a bit of angular British guitar-rock to get things started, storming on with its sturdy 4/4 beat of drums and bass to try and encapsulate the sweaty appeal punkers slam-dancing in the pit. Final track "Basement Jaxx Plays Attaxxx" follows through with its early lyrical promise, "We are about to rock the socks off you." Power-chords, bright riffs and stutter-step percussion writhe around a steady bassline while Herrell provides a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rock-and-roll manifesto:

"Let's make it something real with fingers, sweat and steel. / Something you can feel with microphones and mouths, / kids banging their fists and shouting out loud. / We got rockstar riffs and girls with baby-bearing hips / and sweet red lipstick. / That's some trashy sounding shit."

For a DIY threesome, Pteradon's self-titled EP---a spray-painted CD in a plastic sleeve, a cardstock insert complete with handwritten lyrics and doodles---comes with a surprising amount of polish that's more than a step up from their relatively gritty November Trials-era releases (kudos to Bob Vielma of Shinobu for recording and producing this one). It's catchy, emphatic punk-styled rock that's well-written and far more than the sum of its parts.

And, per the liner notes' explicit instructions ("Please pirate."), I'll be more than willing to provide copies of Pteradon's EP to whomever may be interested.
Posted by: Tom Körp

Audio Reviews (September 13th, 2006)

Tags: audio, review, pteradon, november trials, phat n phunky phonics