ALBUM REVIEW: Bonehenge – L.A. Excavation (self-released)

I love music and I love dinosaurs, but it had never crossed my mind that I might review an album which brought the two together – until this dropped into my inbox.

Bonehenge are an experimental rock band from Los Angeles whose eclectic sound includes elements of ska, new wave, gypsy punk and dark cabaret.

Their self-styled ‘fossil rock’ is influenced by the likes of Gogol Bordello, The Aquabats and Oingo Boingo, so that should give you some idea what to expect.

The six-piece, formed a couple of years ago by bassist Ian Luckey and his accordionist wife CeCe, don’t take themselves entirely seriously – the whole band wear dinosaur-themed headgear live, and their shows look enormous fun.

Bonehenge live. Pic by Christine Demaria.

The standard rock band set-up of guitar, bass and drums is augmented by saxophone, accordion, keyboards and, at times, clarinet, so it’s certainly a rich cornucopia of sounds which they bring to the table.

The songs on this debut album aren’t bad, even if some of the subject matter is a bit corny (for example the opening T-Sex – a sax-powered little ditty about a horny Tyrannosaurus!).

Herbivore sees singer Jon Allen put himself in the place of 100-tonne plant eaters “head in the clouds can’t feel my feet, I don’t know why all I have to do is eat”.

Prison Of Stone is about being fossilised, and warns “if I weren’t trapped down here, I’d rampage and crush your cities”.

Bonehenge. Pic by Wesley Hicks.

Underwater Frenzy is about ichythosaurs – the giants of the prehistoric deep – feeding, and is the first recorded instance I can recall of the word Mesozoic being used in a song.

And while closing track Chicks Dig Paleontologists is a clever title, it’s probably the weakest of the 10 songs here.

The standout track is Dino Wars, an upbeat, sax-driven stomper about the bitter rivalry between the two pre-eminent US dinosaur hunters of the late 19th century, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, who were so determined to outdo the other that they both ended up in financial and social ruin.

It’s an unlikely topic to tackle in song, but it sort of works, and although the whole premise of a prehistoric group is clever, and amusing, I can’t help wonder if more than one album’s worth might be too much. 6/10.

Gary Welford owner