Chalk Dinosaur releases a charmer of a debut, with help from Harrison Wargo | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chalk Dinosaur releases a charmer of a debut, with help from Harrison Wargo 

When Margaret Welsh covered Chalk Dinosaur for City Paper in March, the fledgling band was playing out regularly, but trying to replace a member. Initially composed of two sets of brothers -- John and Joe O'Hallaron and Matt and Rich Bradford -- the band had lost a guitarist when Joe moved away for a job.

The fortuitous replacement turned out to be Harrison Wargo, recently of The Morning Light, on guitar, piano and vocals. I interviewed Wargo nearly four years ago, when he was the bassist for pop-punk outfit Transition; in the time since, it seems he's gotten pretty handy in the recording studio.

At least that's what I gather from Chalk Dinosaur's brand-new self-titled album: slick, finger-snapping pop that doesn't skimp on the backing vocals, piano or mellotron. Performed almost entirely by Wargo and guitarist/vocalist John O'Hallaron, the album was recorded this summer in Wargo's basement studio. 

Overall, the 11-song album seems less a "band album" than a showcase for O'Hallaron's songs and very Ben Gibbard-ish vocals. (Drummer Rich Bradford plays on one track -- the faux-western "John Wayne" -- and bassist Matt Bradford doesn't seem to appear at all.) This makes more sense when you go looking for a band Web site and end up at, where you find 9