Chalk Dinosaur's self titled album is the first release since the bands formation in spring of 2008. The album was recorded and produced during the summer of 2009 in Harrison Wargo's basement, also known as Phantom Bags Studios, in Pittsburgh, PA.
The CD was mastered by Roger Seibel of SAE Mastering, who has mastered several successful albums from the likes of Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Tegan and Sara, Elliott Smith, The Cardigans, Pavement, and many others.
Here is an excerpt from a review in the Pittsburgh City Paper that was printed in spring of 2009. Some of the songs mentioned appear in the bands first album:
If you've never heard of Chalk Dinosaur, you're not alone. Despite the fact that it's had a steady string of gigs since its formation about nine months ago, the band isn't much for showing off. Crowded around a tiny coffee shop table, Chalk Dinosaur's three steady members seem at a loss for what to say about themselves. "We're bad promoters," bassist Matt Bradford admits.
And as band formation stories go, Chalk Dinosaur's is pretty basic. Singer and guitarist John O'Hallaron wanted to put the songs he'd been writing to use and enlisted Bradford, with whom he'd shared gym class at North Allegheny High School. Conveniently, musical ability runs in both their families: Bradford's brother, Rich, joined on drums, and O'Hallaron's brother, Joe, helped out as a second guitarist. The members' paths have diverged slightly since they started: Matt, John and Rich attend different local colleges, and Joe took a job in Washington, D.C.
That said, there is something special about seeing such a completely unassuming band break out a set of awesome pop songs. Drawing inspiration from some of the usual suspects -- The Beatles, Beach Boys (Matt says he listens to Pet Sounds "almost every day"), Weezer and Modest Mouse -- Chalk Dinosaur strikes a balance between whimsy and collegiate world-weariness.
"Crazy Folks," an ode to late nights in 24-hour diners, sounds like Built to Spill with Pixies-esque pacing, and the sing-along "Set in Stone" wouldn't be out of place on a Dr. Dog record. The best song may be the loopy, infectious "Warm Me Up," which could easily be a lost Death Cab for Cutie B-side. O'Hallaron's vocals bear a strong resemblance to Death Cab front man Ben Gibbard, although O'Hallaron manages to avoid Gibbard's condescending whine.
Lyrically, O'Hallaron negotiates the line between childhood and adulthood, and deals (with notable self-awareness) with the ennui that is sometimes found in between. "This guilty discontent stains the so-called prime of years," he sings in "A Cowardly Escape." "Will I slide into old age confirming all of my worst fears?"