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Catch 22 - Dinosaur Sounds 
by Dan Grote

Listening to a new Catch 22 record is like finding a time capsule you made in high school, if, like me, you graduated high school in New Jersey in 1998. In said time capsule, you may find a mix tape you made of your favorite alternative rock songs, maybe an ex-girlfriend’s phone number, one of those metal ball necklaces that were all the rage in 1995, and, depending on the time capsule’s size, a pair of those JNCO stovepipe pants that you no doubt ripped open and sewed an extra pair of fabric strips into.

Ska is a secret nostalgia genre, with a network of bands that have been in hiding since 1998 playing the same music they did seven years ago to the point of backpack patch saturation. Catch 22 is no exception. But.

But in 1997, when there was a dearth of revolutionary rock and roll following the burnout of alt rock and gangsta rap, ska was as good as pop. As much as all the died-hair kids thought the music was theirs and no one else’s, it was pop. It was hooky, catchy, danceable, and it was sure as s*** better than Master P. But I’ve written that essay already.

With the possible exception of the Mighty Might BossTones, the bulk of the radio-wrangling ska crowd could not call themselves rock and roll. Catch 22 found good company with Reel Big Fish, Save Ferris and Less Than Jake. Their 1998 debut Keasbey Nights featured great storyteller songs like “Kristina She Don’t Even Know I Exist” and “As the Footsteps Die off Forever.”

The problem with the genre arose when it found itself no longer popular. Blame Korn and DMX if you like, but to adapt to the times many ska bands toned down their horns and toned up their guitars. The only problem with that is it became apparent that the non-horn elements of ska were technically inproficient three-chord repeat-o-patterns. Thump-thump-cymbal-thump-thump-thump-thump-cymbal. It was the horns that made ska, and albums like “Hello, Rockview” and “How Do They Rock So Hard?” made this quite evident, as it wasn’t what they were doing as much as what they weren’t doing that sealed the genre’s downfall. And you could get that from Blink 182 and Sum 41.

Dinosaur Sounds continues that same-y tradition of pop punk. There are worthy songs. “Beguile the Time” and “Dreams of Venus” are contenders, the latter with its “please don’t feed the machine” chorus. There’s a higher concentration of girl-trouble songs, including lead track, “Rocky,” ending with the lament “it started with you and ends with me.” Vocalists Ryan Eldred and Kevin Gunther sing the “what went wrong” song on “Dripping Faucet.”

VERDICT: Dinosaur Sounds is the kind of album you see in the record store, do a double take and say, “Hey I remember those guys! The hell ever happened to them?” You don’t buy the album though, because you already have the album that made your memories. Dinosaur Sounds does little to advance the cause of ska, so unless you’ve been clinging on to the dream all these years with your wallet chain intact, you can pass on this. Hmm… I wonder how the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are doing…

CD Info 

Catch 22 - Dinosaur Sounds
Label: Victory Records
Beguile The Time
Wine Stained Lips
Motown Cinderella
Chin Up
Dreams Of Venus
Dripping Faucet
Good Time
So Cold
Chasing The Moon
Lamont's Lament
untitled - (hidden track)
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