From the ashes of one of my favorite punk bands, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, comes Crocodiles. After the suicide of Plot’s bassist Willy Graves, the band respectfully dissolved. Singer Brandon Welchez spent a couple years away from being in a band before returning in 2008 with Crocodiles, a duo he formed with Charles Rowell, formerly of hardcore punk band Some Girls.
But the sound of Crocodiles is more than a few steps removed from the spastic, saxophone-infused and John Zorn/Naked City-inspired Plot. Welchez’s unmistakable voice returns, but the bed beneath it is now layers of lo-fi, warbled post-punk revival, at times even calling upon Brit rock.
Summer of Hate is the group’s debut release, from 2009. Pay no mind to the title, though, which serves as a crux, the antithesis of what summer should connote.
I tweeted a couple weeks ago that the group’s music was “perfect summer music.” To clarify, I should have specified that the follow-ups to Summer of Hate (2010’s Sleep Forever and 2012’s Endless Flowers) better represent this statement. Summer pays homage to a variety of styles: noise rock, noise punk, garage rock, etc. But it hangs its hat on none of those, and thus doesn’t fall in line with my assertion.
It’s sort of a “feeling in the dark” approach to finding a signature sound. At its best, songs like “Refuse Angels” and “I Wanna Kill” capture the energy and spirit of punk rock: resting on the laurels of feedback and fuzz. At its most ponderous, a strict adherence to keys become the crutch by which tracks like “Sleeping With the Lord” and “Young Drugs” make me long for more Plot albums, and skip ahead to Crocodiles’ later work.
There’s some good to be had here, but start with Sleep Forever. I’ve got my eyes on their 2013 release Crimes of Passion, releasing next month.
From Summer of Hate, this is “Refuse Angels” –
Standout tracks: “Refuse Angels” and “Flash of Light”
Weakest track: …the final 60 seconds of “Flash of Light.” Seriously.
RIYL: Noise rock, Brit rock. No Age, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dum Dum Girls.