Friday, July 31, 2009

Crocodiles' "Summer of Hate": Music Review

Great title for a familiar sounding CD. Fans of Jesus & Mary Chain will like this best. Beat in German motorik, a touch of Suicide, a dash of Velvet Underground, and, given the band's name, Echo & the Bunnymen: ingredients for a post-punk set that brings the duo and their drum machine (not named Echo?) into a revival of alternative rock's darker, but not dreadful, attitudes.

After a short "Screaming Chrome" that's rather subdued, "I Wanna Kill" replicates the JMC's "Head On," but it's not bad as a tribute to them. "Soft Skull" sounds like Echo's "Pictures in My Room" with the same comment. "Here Comes the Sky" shows more originality as its keyboard waves shimmer. "Refuse Angels" bursts into a primitive punkier rave-up that reminds me of a single by one-chord wonders on a Rough Trade compilation circa 1979. That's a compliment.

"Flash of Light" dawdles until halfway it enters Oneida's experimental territory, repeating the patterns minimally to good effect if you like krautrock without a beat!
It's a direction they should explore more. It segues well into "Sleeping With the Lord," where the synthesized flow reminds me of Spiritualized mixed with JMC, reaching dignity in its simplicity. Emotions here gain by their vocal understatement, reminiscent of Spacemen 3's delivery and religious allusions.

The title track reminds me of their peers The Black Angels or The Warlocks, more percussive and more tribally grounded. "Young Drugs" sounds like musicians for the first time trying out a krautrock song-- the demo nature and hesitant playing gain a bit of charm by their artlessness.

Compared to peers Darker My Love, The Warlocks, Farflung, The Black Angels, Black Mountain, or Oneida, the return to familiar post-punk, neo-psychedelic attitudes by Crocodiles here remains far more derivative. But, the bands I just mentioned all had their growing up in public as they tried to marry the anxious beauty of the Velvet Underground to the intensity of such bands as Spacemen 3 and Echo & the Bunnymen. I'd keep an eye on Crocodiles, as JMC, Spacemen, and Echo all represent the various, and well-chosen, influences that may take them more in one or the other direction in future recordings towards a more original blend of these fine flavors. (P.S. I've reviewed albums by DML, Warlocks, Farflung, BA recently on Amazon US, by the way. Review posted 6/28/2009.)

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