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Review: "Dinosaurchestra" by Lemon Demon

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

For the past three or four years, I have been a Lemon Demon fan. While the name might put some people off, the band was created by the awesomeness that is known by the name of Neil Cicierega, who also created the insanely popular Potter Puppet Pals, as well as a genre known as “animutation” (which I won’t delve into further for fear of creeping you out). In addition to these things, he also regularly uploads funny, short films and videos on his YouTube channel and performs live at conventions and whatnot. The only problem he has, though, is that he’s an independent musician, so almost all of his money has to be gained from word-of-mouth or the occasional gig. Fortunately for him, his music is insanely awesome, as evidenced in his awesomely titled “Dinosaurchestra” album.

[dinosaurchestra album cover]

Awesomesauce

Click the song titles with links below to listen to them or download them. You can hear the ones without links by clicking the above image. Here’s the track listing, as well as my ratings for the tracks:

  1. Dinosaurchestra Part One – 4/5
  2. Action Movie Hero Boy5/5
  3. Fine5/5
  4. Lawnmower – 5/5
  5. Stuck – 4/5
  6. The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (video) – 5/5
  7. Vow of Silence – 4/5
  8. Neverending Hum – 4/5
  9. Dinosaurchestra Part Two – 3/5
  10. Your Imaginary Friend – 4/5
  11. Archaeopteryx – 5/5
  12. Eyewishes – 4/5
  13. Bystanding – 4/5
  14. Indie Cindy & the Lo-Fi Lullabies – 5/5
  15. Nothing Worth Loving Isn’t Askew – 5/5
  16. This Hyper World5/5
  17. Deep in the Ocean – 5/5
  18. Dinosaurchestra Part Three – 5/5
  19. The Too Much Song – 5/5

As well as the following bonus tracks that you get if you buy the physical CD:

  1. White Bread Boyfriend4/5
  2. Funniest – 3/5
  3. Birthday (Alligators and Pretzel Makers) – 4/5
  4. Chip’s Challenge chip01 midi remix – 4/5
  5. It Can Get Lonely In My Mansion4/5
  6. Samuel and Rosella4/5
  7. Bill Watterson – 4/5
  8. Space Mission Alpha – 4/5
  9. Being Alone On Valentine’s Day – 5/5
  10. Stick Stickly4/5
  11. Abraham Lincoln’s Head – 4/5
  12. The Next Dimension – 5/5
  13. Princess Unicorn Bunny Kitten Angel – >9000/5 (YES)
  14. The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (Aaron Ackerson remix) – 5/5
  15. The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (>SaTIst< remix) – 4/5
  16. The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (R-Forrest remix) – 5/5

(WOW that’s a lot of music!)

Released in 2006, Dinosaurchestra is one of Neil’s most popular albums to date, and also one of his best. In fact, you might have actually heard a song from the album before and not realized it if you’re web-savvy enough or listened to Dr. Demento. Specifically, the song I’m talking about is The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, which still makes people laugh to this day. However, even though this song is one of his most popular, there are many other songs Neil’s written that I’d consider much better.

The album begins with the first part of the title track, Dinosaurchestra, which gives a tongue-in-cheek, almost childish opening to the album that apparently involves eating children. Part two, in the middle of the album, separates the album into halves (the first of which is more funny and the latter is more serious) and pokes fun at “rock music culture”, and while it is shorter than the other parts it does it’s job well. Part three near the end involves the people in the “Dinosaurchestra” not being able to return to the present, and sing about going to die in a big explosion and turn into fossils. These three tracks are very good examples of dark humor, where death is contrasted with “la la las” and happy-sounding tunes. You don’t get the full impact from these tracks, however, if you don’t listen to the album in one, continuous run.

“Action Movie Hero Boy” is about a boy that wants to be like the action heroes he sees in the movies, only to end up blowing himself up on accident. One of the better-sounding songs on the album, it isn’t so funny as it is tongue-in-cheek, though the rocking riffs make this one of my favorites. “Fine” makes fun of extreme optimism, saying,

Everything works out nice in the end. Will someone marry the moon? It’ll be fine! Why don’t we sit back mellow again and have a nice afternoon? It’ll be fine!

only to note that he’s “full of crap”, partway through the song (hehe). “Fine”, while satirically dark, is very happy, bubbly, and has awesome instrumentation, making it stand out among the rest as one of my favorites.

“Lawnmower” is, you guessed it, about mowing the lawn and how apparently the sound that lawnmowers make replaced music when it “died” (see: American Pie, the song not the movie). While not one of his most silly or even most energetic songs, Lawnmower’s addictive-yet-monotone melody is almost hypnotic. Likewise, “Stuck” is hypnotic, but for the exact opposite reasons. It’s flamboyant, almost elevator-music-like melody is generic and repetitive, but that’s the point! The lyrics to the song come from a sad, depressed soul that’s stuck in the song (hence the track name) that begs the listener to skip to the next track and release him from his misery, making this one of the more unique songs I’ve ever heard (and this is coming from someone that listens to a lot of unique music).

After it is The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, which I’ve mentioned above. The song involves real and fictional people and characters fighting each other for no apparent reason, ending in a bloody, gory mess with a victor who you might not exactly expect. As awesome as this song is, most of its charm comes from the incredibly silly lyrics and not the melody itself, though it is good. This song received an updated version in 2009 that better fits the style the song’s played in at gigs and conventions and even ended up on the Rock Band Network! If you have Rock Band, check out this song on there and give Neil a little tip ;)! By the way, this song is also one of the few instances of profanity on the album, which I will address later in the review.

“Vow of Silence” is a rather bipolar little song about wanting to never talk again. Most of the melody is cheery but the lyrics clash with it in a dark humor-ish way, chanting “shut up shut up shut up!” during the chorus. This song’s pretty forgettable but it works pretty well. After it, “Neverending Hum”, one of the weirdest songs I’ve ever heard in my entire life, comes up with an awkward, yet addictive melody. It’s about some creatures that apparently live in peoples’ subconscious (one of which looks like an armadillo with KISS makeup). This song’s really hard to judge because it’s so weird, but it’s weirdness is exactly what’s so incredibly attractive.

After “Dinosaurchestra Part Two” comes the more serious half of the album, leading with “Your Imaginary Friend”. The lyrics for these songs aren’t very silly, but they’re intriguing nonetheless. “Your Imaginary Friend” is apparently about some spirits wanting to be a lonely kid’s imaginary friend (apparently the term “friend” is collective in this song). It uses birds chirping like an instrument, which is rather calm and simple, setting it apart from the other songs on the album that are weirder-sounding and more unique, though it’s still a good song.

The chirping from “Your Imaginary Friend” blends into my favorite song on the album, “Archaeopteryx”! The song’s about a man that hates the normal life he has and wants to go back to the time of dinosaurs. The thing that I love the most about the track is just how memorable the melody is. It sounds almost epic and makes me smile for some reason, uniquely blending backwards-playing instruments with forward ones… and dinosaurs. The lyrics aren’t very silly, but they’re still good. I seriously could see this song, at least an instrumental version, in a film soundtrack of some sort for a one-man-adventure kind of movie. It’s that awesome.

“Eyewishes” and “Bystanding” blend into each other, and on iTunes they count as the same track. It sounds kinda cowboy-ish in a groovy way at the start, but in between verses there’s an awesome instrumental guitar riff. The lyrics involve a person who’s without eyelashes, a soulmate, and everything else. The last words in the song are “And now I’ll say good-” but it cuts off, leading into “Bystanding”, making it sound a little like this:

So take care of my pets and plants and now I’ll say good-

Bystanders bystanding, (so it sounds like “bye-standers”) bicycling by.

“Bystanding” is a really short song based on a slower, lullaby-sounding version of the melody of “Eyewishes” made up of silly, meaningless rhymes. It’s fun but too short to be enjoyed as much as the rest of the album.

“Indie Cindie and the Lo-Fi Lullabies” is a sad tale about an independent musician who gives up her status as a musician for not sounding good enough. While it’s somewhat depressing, it’s very entertaining to listen to and changes pace as the song goes along, starting as a peppy, energetic song that turns sad and slow near the end, only to become energetic again. “Nothing Worth Loving Isn’t Askew”, another of my favorites from the album, counters the previous track with a hopeful, loving message that striving for what the world says is “perfection” is pointless, and that the very things that the world sees as flaws are, in fact, the reason we should be loved! In addition to it’s heart-warming message, it sounds pretty great too!

After it is “This Hyper World”, a bouncy track that doesn’t really seem to mean much, but sounds addictive anyways. From what I can tell, I guess the song is about being spontaneous, but it’s really hard to tell. While it’s not the best song on the album, it’s pretty awesome and memorable, getting stuck in your head very often and might be one of the songs I’ve listened to the most from this album.

“Deep in the Ocean”, the finale of the album besides the third part of Dinosaurchestra, exits with an energetic bang of monstrous proportions, preparing us for the true finale. About a waterproof wristwatch that runs on love that fell to the bottom of the ocean yet can still work because “deep in the ocean there’s plenty of love to be found”, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s a very giddy romp all the way through. In the end, “The Too Much Song”, appearing after the final two energetic tracks, closes the album with a simple, innovative, and happy melody about appreciating love. The song uses different voices for each voice (in stereo) and uses very delightful-sounding sounds to end the album on a calm, awesome note.

The Verdict: 5/5

In the end, though it has some shortcomings, Dinosaurchestra is an absolutely insane roller coaster of ups and downs, twists and turns, and a wide variety of songs that compliment each other perfectly, providing a unique listening experience that you absolutely have to try. Lemon Demon might sound weird to you, but if you know good music when you hear it then you’ll at least like a few songs in this awesome collection of awesomesauce-ness.

Rent or Buy (can you even rent music?): Absolutely Buy

$11 for 35 awesome songs on CD, or $7 for 19 as mp3s? Of all of the albums I’ve ever bought in my life, the ones from Lemon Demon are always the most worth it. The album also contains a bonus commentary application (that only works on Windows and Mac, sadly… *Linux cries*) and a reversible cover (which looks awesome on the inside)! Another huge plus with buying this is that there’s barely any “middle man” compared to popular music; only his CD distributor, so Neil gets a huge percentage of the money!

And then those bonus tracks… *yawn*

“White Bread Boyfriend” is actually a pretty funny track; it makes fun of generic dating relationships that teenagers only really get in because they feel like it.

“Funniest” is an instrumental melody that works pretty well but isn’t so good as to be considered worth much of your time.

“Birthday (Alligators and Pretzel Makers)” is about not knowing what to get someone for their birthday. It sounds pretty good but it’s a little awkwardly quiet at times. Still, it’s one of the better bonus tracks and sounds very well-made and cheery.

“Chip’s Challenge chip01 midi remix” is just a remix of the main song from a puzzle came called Chip’s Challenge. The original song was played while you played the game, and both versions sound very addictive and fun.

“It Can Get Lonely In My Mansion” is about someone who, obviously, is lonely in his mansion. The song isn’t very funny but it opens rather funnily, and in the end it’s pleasant to listen to.

“Samuel and Rosella” is about two old people that kill teenagers for fun, and it’s actually pretty funny in a dark humor kind of way. My favorite part is their monologue 3/4 through the song, which always makes me giggle on the inside.

“Bill Watterson” is an early version of a song that ends up on his next album, View Monster. It’s about stalking the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson. Yeah. It’s awesome.

“Space Mission Alpha” is a giddy tune about being in space… and exploding. It’s short but funny.

“Being Alone on Valentine’s Day” is yet another short tune. This one’s about… well, wanting to be alone on St. Valentine’s Day because he figures it’s worth a try. This one’s pretty catchy!

“Stick Stickly” is about someone who grew up watching Nickelodeon and saw Stick Stickly on Nick in the Afternoon and misses him. This one’s pretty entertaining, though like most of the bonus tracks it falls short of awesomeness.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Head” is a creepy tune that’s oddly comforting, even though it’s about having nightmares involving Abraham Lincoln’s head. In fact, it’s so comforting that I have to give it a full recommendation. This track alone is worth one of the four extra bucks for the CD.

“The Next Dimension” is about the concept of up and down, apparently, and it’s actually pretty funny! It reminds me of Neil’s older music in it’s awkward silliness.

“Princess Unicorn Bunny Kitten Angel” IS THE GREATEST SONG IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! Well, next to this maybe. Listen to it and you’ll get what I mean.

Finally, the last three tracks are awesome remixes of “The Ultimate Showdown”, and should be self-explanatory. They’re all pretty awesome but a little repetitive.

TL;DR, all of the bonus tracks are awesome, but generally not as good as the regular songs on the album. They’re still worth the extra four bucks + shipping though!

Moral Concerns:

Language: This album does contain a few instances of profanity, but the only song it’s really used in is “The Ultimate Showdown”, including “crotch”, “ass” and “pissed” (if you consider “crotch” to be a “bad word”). However, these words aren’t used for bad purposes and actually add humor to the song (gasp! immature profanity adding humor!? how is the possible!). Mention of “hell” is also present in “Nothing Worth Loving Isn’t Askew”, but it’s used in a good way:

Have you heard the awful truth?

Cursed “asymmetricals” go to hell.

If you trip and lose a tooth,

You’ve gotta knock the other side out as well.

While it sounds harsh, the lines aren’t serious and are actually satirizing the need to be what the world sees as perfect, as evidenced in the chorus. The album’s pretty clean profanity wise and I’m glad!

Overall Maturity Level: 10-ish+

This is a mature album in the sense that you need to be old enough to understand some of the themes present, and the humor might fly over most young peoples’ heads, but it can still be enjoyed by anyone about 10 or older.

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