Glad to see this album hit the list before the end of summer.
September is upon us, and with it in Florida… more heat. But in other, more reasonable parts of the country (like, I don’t know, the District of Columbia maybe), the hope for the changing of the leaves is so real, but only because it won’t happen in less reasonable states (like, I don’t know, Florida maybe).
What I like best about San Diego lo-fi noise rock outfit Crocodiles, outside of the fact that they are led by former Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower vocalist Brandon Welchez, is their sheer and unabashed reverence for all musical things not-of-this-era. The band name is a rip from Echo and the Bunnymen, who, believe it or not, were a big deal even prior to the Donnie Darko soundtrack, thankyouverymuch. The guitar distortion is straight out of a Jesus and Mary Chain album. And Welchez’s shrug-off vocals will remind listeners of just about every rock band from the late 60s through the mid-80s, genre be damned.
This, of course, calls on the debate of “homage versus plagiarism.” I tend to err on the side of praising the band, as I did for their sophomore album Sleep Forever, and to a lesser extent on their debut Summer of Hate. I get a kick out of the mere term ‘lo-fi’ because of my admiration of anything that sounds even remotely like it was borne of the 80s or reeks of neon nightmares.
Endless Flowers, the band’s 2012 release, might not be the most innovative record ever released, but it’s a damn fine one. At the least it’s the group’s best; past that, for my money, it is one of the finer “brightly colored” noise rock album of the past few years.
Though I can see why critics would be dismissive, even scathing, of Crocodiles’ signature sound. For a song like “Hung Up on a Flower” – one that drones out for 6+ minutes, with the final two serving as the platform for a twisted and distorted rambling read in German – to end up in an otherwise cheery sounding record is a headscratcher. But one dud does not the whole album make.
Sure, it might be a little more blatant level of borrowing, but faulting a band for trying to mimic the sound of those that came before them, who were refined in a pre-Internet fire, is ludicrous.
If this project has taught me anything, it’s to listen to what you want. If you’re into a band like Crocodiles, who have piecemealed together a bouquet of pastel flavored, hazy, distorted, experimental, VHS-era noisy rock, go for it. If you’re not into it, or for that matter anything else, write for Pitchfork.
From Endless Flowers, this is “My Surfing Lucifer” –
Standout tracks: “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9),” “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)” and “Electric Death Song”
Weakest track: “Hung Up on a Flower”
RIYL: Perfect end of the summer music. Dum Dum Girls, lo-fi noise.