Release Date: May 12, 2015
Record label: Zoo Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
When Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell started the scuzz pop duo Crocodiles, it's unlikely that they imagined they would ever make an album as unapologetically pop as Boys. Their previous record, Crimes of Passion, took their sound to unprecedented realms of hookiness, slickness, and radio-ready digestibility. It was also their best record yet. Boys gives it a solid run for its title, though.
Having formed in just 2009, the fact that Crocodiles’ latest album Boys becomes their fifth studio album is prolific to say the least. The San Diego duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell are still milking the same vein, but there’s always a little bit more to their albums than a string of identikit efforts. In addition to the normal staple of The Jesus And Mary Chain-ish fuzz, Boys sees the odd flirtation with Latin beats and a dollop of salsa.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's difficult to imagine Crocodiles' Brandon Welchez and his wife - Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls - lounging around at home in front of the TV. It's difficult to picture them at home at all, quite frankly, given the amount of time they both spend on the road, and indeed the prolific nature of their recorded output over the past five or six years has been impressive enough to have you wondering whether they have a waking second that isn't dedicated to music.
Crocodiles have been subletting their sound from the Jesus and Mary Chain since their full-length debut in 2009. Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell continue to crash at the Reid brothers’ pad for the first half of their fifth album, but by side two of Boys, they’re finally ready to move out. Maybe it will be good for them; this flat was getting pretty musty anyway.Boys has the requisite reverb and guitar fuzz and Welchez talk-singing about life "in the clubs, on them drugs." The first few songs are living-on-the-edge narratives that would sound way more badass were they not discredited by clichés like "cold as ice" and "sharp like razorblades." It also doesn’t help how heavily they borrow from badasses who came before them.
The San Diego-formed garage psych duo Crocodiles (Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez) released their simple, scuzzy first album Summer of Hate in early May 2009 when the most credible aesthetic in music was distortion. Similar to then-label mate Wavves' (both did time on Fat Possum) debut album, Vivian Girls, and the explosion of the microgenre that launched a thousand Tumblrs, Chillwave, Crocodiles draped every song they wrote in thick, heaping waves of fuzz and lo-fi mystique. Jesus and the Mary Chain comparisons came fast and furious, accompanied by criticism that Crocodiles' influences were doing more work in their songs than the artists themselves.
Garage rock is a crowded field, and the arms race continues to escalate. With each new album from the likes of Mikal Cronin and Thee Oh Sees — tip-top tier acts in the genre with new albums this year — the bands nipping at their heels have to find some new avenue to distinguish themselves. For Crocodiles, that meant traveling to Mexico City and trying to pick up some local flavor.
You know, I’m starting to think that the 'nu psych revolution', or whatever arbitrary name you want to give it, might be on its way out. There’s really only so many times I can listen to perfectly serviceable songs with gently hypnotic basslines, raggedy organ parts, occasional woozy acoustic weirdness etc. etc. and still find something new and/or interesting to focus on.