Review: by itunes customer heard and shared!

Cruisin’ ☆☆☆☆☆

by heard and shared

This CD is huge, dinosaur-scale fun! Its a great selection of diverse tunes and beautiful musicianship - some that rock, and some that are just lovely. There is a creative history of science-themed songs, for example, Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans who wrote "The Sun is A Mass", or famously Tom Leher's " The Elements". More recently work by Grammy winners They Might Be Giants has gained new followers young and old. Troll and Wodehouse have joined the best of them and in some ways exceeded the pack.


Review: Dinosaur rock gets new life, meaning, on diverse CD

FAIRBANKS - The phrase “dinosaur rock” is generally considered an insult, but for Ketchikan artist Ray Troll and his loose configuration of musical cohorts called the Ratfish Wranglers, it’s a term of endearment. On “Paleonerd,” a track on the outfit’s new album, “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway,” Troll writes about “Those giant beasts that seemed so real / One hundred percent sex appeal. I’m a paleonerd — don’t you understand? / I’m a paleonerd — baby I’m your man.” (If only more fossilized spandex rockers could so happily embrace their reptilian muses.)

For those unfamiliar with the musical side of Troll’s universe, this album, much like the group’s first, offers a menagerie of musical styles coupled with lyrics praising the weird things that paleontologists excavate out of the earth’s layers. It’s sort of a “Sedimental Journey,” filled with trilobites, tuskers, and pterosaurs, and driven by rhythms ranging from blues to bluegrass, hip-hop to ska.

This album accompanies the book of the same title that recounted Troll’s fossil collecting trip across Middle America with Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Johnson shows up in the album’s central track, “I am a Paleobotanist,” where he raps about his day job and declares that in the world of organic decay, “It’s not ashes to ashes, it’s gas to gas.”

Troll mostly confined himself to lyric writing and the occasional backing vocal this time out, while Washington State-based multi-instrumentalist Russell Wodehouse — who receives equal billing — composed and performed much of the music. An assortment of friends handled the lead vocals and other instrumentation weaving in and out of the mix.

Seattle’s Big Dirt Band joins in for the country rock-styled “Take Me Back,” which pines for simpler times when mammoths wandered the plains. “Time Traveling (With a Shovel),” featuring a guest shot by rapper Art of Verse, is a funk driven celebration of digging for plankton in the former ocean now known as Kansas. And on “Ammonite,” vocalist Missy Ingersoll, backed by a 1980s-type new wave groove, makes cephalopods sound disturbingly sexual.

“Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway” is a rock opera of sorts, one that’s fun to listen to and educational as well. These dinosaur rockers have left a fine set of tracks for everyone to dig. (Oh, and this being a Ray Troll project, the album artwork is exceptional.)

Check out this track: “Hell Pig” is a brilliant send-up of death rock with screaming guitars and lyrics about the Archaeotherium, a carnivorous Eocene-era wild boar. Not even the most demonic of leather-clad metal-heads could match the poignancy of lyrics like these: “Stand before the ancient beast — Gorging on his putrid feast of flesh / Rip the victim asunder — Hear the roar of their thunder… Hear the wail and the moans / As he grinds on your bones / Burning in the smoke and flame / So it goes in this bloody game of life.”

by David James / For the News-Miner


Put your trilobite in gear, grab your mammals, and get ready for a wild ride on the Fossil Freeway with Ray Troll, Russell Wodehouse and the Ratfish Wranglers! This new CD by Ray and the gang shines like a sheet of Visqueen on a cool Alaskan night. Walk, run, or swim – and get yourself a copy today!


The tunes are tight and the performances are right for educational dancing! Cool plus!

Jeff Brown,

Program Director




I was lucky enough to be bartending on the Alaska ferry Malaspina to  Ketchikan, when Ray let us in on a pre-release copy of "Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway." Turning it up created an instant  rollicking vibe among everyone present.

This second release from Ray  Troll and his the extended tribe of Ratfish Wranglers along with his musical cohort Russ Wodehouse just plain makes you smile and groove. A veritable musical smorgasbord, it is so damn fun, it will out the inner kid in every  adult - and I imagine, the greater kid in every kid.

From the  beginning, with the banjo of the title song, you know you're in good  hands.

What follows is an excellent amazing journey, of folky meets funky meets even fuzz metal styles all bubbling with the great whimsy and lore and insight born of our Ray Troll's love of fossils and music. Even though I am a natural born Alaskan and musician, and  know how much musical talent is in the woodwork up here, I was still  unprepared for this mighty of a confection coming out of Ketchikan! Major kudos and hats off to you!  Ray Troll, Russ Wodehouse and their get-down Ratfish Wrangler crew get 5 stars for this outing. Take a cruise on Ray and Russ's "Fossil Freeway", and Dig!

Tony Tengs, Juneau



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