Pterodactyl Problems – ‘Esoteric Hobbies’   1 comment

Following a 5 year hiatus, Pterodactyl Problems are back! The Toronto 4 piece are now pleased to present their new album, ‘Esoteric Hobbies’. Combining various genres, including indie, heavy rock, blues, jazz, punk and heavy metal, the resultant sound contains grooves and thematically, the songs are balanced and resonant, reflecting both the positive and the challenging elements of life, including those raised by living with and around severe mental illness. There’s also an acoustic aspect to the tracks, demonstrating the gentler side of the music. Modest by default, the band’s reverential outlook towards their beginnings belies the self-assurance and meaning with which they convey and perform their music. Having played sold-out shows already, PP have become renowned for the spirit of their live gigs and are set to convert many.

Paresthesia – Wow! That’s quite some intro! Booming impact. Heavy, doom infused drums. Good strong beat. Vocally, a bit too winsome and indie based for my own tastes, but some very decent riff work and a confident powerful bass line. It’s immediately obvious where they’re coming from with the varied influences and it’s a solid enough production, but the sound just doesn’t do it for me.

Protest – This intro’s a bit more like it. Short spoken (well, okay, sworn) section, with a livelier, yet gentler accompaniment following. It does rock up slightly, but it’s more of an alternative sound, combining shades of blues, folk, indie, alt and heavier rock. Still not moved by it, but there’s still time yet.

Alone In The Cold – Now we’re getting there! Much more rocky, vibrant drum intro, faster paced and increasingly colourful. Lots of punky melody, though the attitude’s unconvincing. Still a good effort. Very Green Day-esque, with a slight Stipe-esque REM echo. It’s a cheerful little track, all in all and it’ll do. The energy’s there, even if it’s a tad ‘Teenage Dirtbag’-esque and teeny-bop-ish.

Crazy – Again, there’s that sense of populism. Becoming increasingly Green Day-esque and aged. It is upbeat and it is energetic, with plenty of pizzazz and even a little touch of tremolo, which always goes down well, but it’s just a bit much at once, really. A lot’s being crammed in together and it’s erratic and unfocused.

Heavy – Opening with a very melodic, well performed acoustic, reflecting a skill for jazz and blues. This is better, more focused and brings out where the true potential lives. There’s something to be said for stripping things down to the bare bones of a specific sound and homing in on it. This is a perfect example. It’s a really listenable, relaxed, enjoyable song.

Constellations – Another acoustic intro, with a deeper tone and a sentimental vocal. Quieter, bringing out the power of the bass especially, gradually increasing the instrumental volume. A sadness comes forward through the vocals, conveying the emotional depth of the lyrics. Ending on a harsh, strong drum beat, there’s a great deal of resonance within it.

Lush Lives – Right back up again the tone goes). Moving instantly into a far more upbeat and hopeful mood. The pace is faster, the lyrics stronger, the accompaniments a lot rockier. This is much more like it. Just a rocked up melody, with an energised kick. Like it a lot.

Heroes Killers – Booming drum intro’s, with some great riffing, incorporating a nice bit of wah wah. Straight away, it gets into the rocky stride, adding in a hint of psychedelia. It works. A slightly heavier slant to this one. Some very powerful drum work and an equally consistent melody. Uplifting and effortless.

Breathe – A slower, but pleasantly 60’s sound to this intro, showcasing acoustic and electric talents. It’s actually quite beautiful. A slight  Weller-esque echo to the vocals and overall sound, it gathers strength and blues effect well. Evocative of a great blues bar, this has got plausibility and conviction written right through it. I didn’t want it to end. Standout track.

Exhale – Similar sound to ‘Breathe’, the acoustic ability’s really coming to light now. A pure instrumental, so brief, it’s more of an encore/add-on to the last, but just as beautiful and loaded with emotion.

Down The River – Beginning in a similar fashion again, now, there’s a duet of twinned voices, making the song shine. Something about this sound just builds on itself, getting better and better with every note and creating a memorable emotional connection. Such a strong, striking beat, exemplified gorgeously, by that outstanding drum finale.

Slideshow – Now the mood changes direction again, to a more poignant, contemplative tone, but interwoven with greater assurance. Lots of emotive guitar work here. A very thoughtful track. A slower number, filled with pathos and profundity. Crooned with absolute passion.

Pictures – Another deep one. Introing a brief piano section, at the outset, followed by a different guitar now, for some of the slide sections. That voice and the lyrics hold so much raw, honest emotion, brilliantly and bravely conveyed. Growing stronger and louder, towards its end, ‘Pictures’ really does evoke that sense of culmination and consolidation of everything preceding it. Almost too powerful for words.

Overall – I’m very pleased to say my conclusion of ‘Esoteric Hobbies’ ends better than it started. I’m awarding 2 separate star ratings, for different sections of the album, in addition to an overall score, in this case, in the interests of balance and recognition of the album’s full strengths, as the latter half, IMO, deserves a much better rating than the former. The essential issue with the first 4 tracks, IMHO, is in trying to be all things to all people. Simply too much going on at once, thereby, obscuring its focus and clarity. Tracks 5 onwards, however, are a different deal entirely. 5-13 are where Pterodactyl Problems’ areas of skill and speciality really come to life. The level of emotional depth and meaning conveyed through those is quite frankly, breathtakingly mind blowing. So as they compose the majority of the album, it seems only fair to acknowledge that. So in this exceptional case, I’ll award star ratings accordingly.

Tracks 1-4 – 6/10 ****** Tracks 5-13 – 9/10 ********* overall score – 8/10 ********

For fans of REM, Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, Venus Rising, The Kooks, Wheatus, Kaiser Chiefs, The Foo Fighters’ ‘Skin And Bones’.

Released 8th March 2019.

Posted November 29, 2018 by jennytate in Uncategorized

One response to “Pterodactyl Problems – ‘Esoteric Hobbies’

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  1. I really got into this article. I found it to be interesting and loaded with unique points of interest.

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