By Todd Hamm
Special to The Seattle Times
In recent years, Toronto has given the world some of its most caffeinated noise rock (Metz), and most sensual R & B/rap (Drake).
Fellow Ontarians Dinosaur Bones, who play El Corazón Monday, play fairly traditional rock arrangements, but they probably land closer to the spirit of Drake’s personal musing — not only because their pace is generally relaxed, but because they’re so lyrically focused. Their songs are cleverly built around singer Ben Fox’s melancholy poetry, and the band wraps its sound around each turn of plot like a warm quilt of support.
Out this past July, Dinosaur Bones’ second album, “Shaky Dream” (Dine Alone), brings DB’s songwriting together in a big way. Fox takes time to forage through his emotional sketchpad, hitting his mark more often than not, delivering his story lines with easy-listening vocal melodies. His relaxed, almost indifferent tone works well and adds a strange complexity to his issues.
Bassist Branko Scekic, keyboardist David Wickland, drummer Lucas Fredette and guitarist Josh Byrne present colorful canvases, shaping melodies with technical subtlety, and building to a few fine, song-ending instrumental crescendos.
“Swayin’ in the neon light/I can tell you’re not alright/laughin’ just to be polite/oh what a way to spend the night,” recounts Fox on the flirtatious “So Brand New,” mimicking the air of confusion that surrounds these tentative advances.
On the next song, “Don’t Decide,” Fox concludes, “Don’t choose, no, don’t decide/It’ll work itself out, and I’ll be here at your side.” In the narrator’s world, the deferment of responsibility is a solution in itself, as he’s caught up in the youthful magic of not having to know what to do.
In a way, the band name is perfect: Fox seems comforted by digging up past memories. He wields nostalgia as an instrument; it’s the shade of ink in his pen, and most can relate to his soul-searching at some level.
With Cumulus, Blackburn, Hallstrom and The Jalapenos. 7:30 p.m. Monday at El Corazón, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle; $8-$10 ( 206-381-3094 or www.elcorazonseattle.com).