Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion

crimesofpassionRating: ★★★½☆

When looking at the musical history of Crocodiles, you can say there have been three stages.  The first stage has roots in the records one and two, filled with reverb and a wash of noise.  Then they started to clean things up a little bit on Endless Flowers, and they’ve finally progressed to the the latest stage with Crimes of Passion, creating a collection of songs that wears their influences boldly whilst pushing further into the realms of pop sensibility.

On my first jam to “I Like It in the Dark,” I really thought this was some experimental version of early Brit-pop.  The vocals definitely wear that influence, as do the piano touches jumping in and out of the track.  It’s clear at this point that Crimes of Passion is still to go further into pop songwriting, although I appreciate that they haven’t completely abandoned their penchant for extra layering, though this time with instruments as opposed to feedback noise.  Surprisingly, “Marquis de Sade” cleans things up completely, giving us one of the most straightforward hits the group has composed to date, harkening to sunny Cali pop by using female backing vocals.  But, personally, I could do without the excess horn solo in there; it would ruin the song if it weren’t such a great tune all around.

I think one of the biggest changes for Crocodiles revolves around the delivery of the vocals.  You’d find the group coating the voice in the early stage, yet if you listen to “Heavy Metal Clouds” you can tell that the band are intent on making lyrics you can attach yourself to immediately.  There were glimmers of such a voice on the last LP, but they’ve been improved upon here, leaving listeners with an extra instrument to focus on…that of the voice. You’ll see the same attention to detail on “She Splits Me Up,” which just might be the prettiest song that the group has crafted to date.  Guitars on this track are angular, yet they have a tonal brightness that I find really appealing.

But, don’t think that Crimes of Passion is all shimmering pop goodness; you’ll still find songs with a bit of grit within.  “Gimme Some Annihilation” offers up the crunchiest guitar from the LP, featuring some of that trademark Crocs fuzz.  Still, while holding onto their past, it’s hard not to see that the band almost seems refreshing new with this track; it’s got an entirely different attitude now, as opposed to what you might find in the early stage. They give us noisy nods, just not too much.

Honestly, I see this as a record that’s going to sneak up and surprise a lot of people.  The band definitely tread water with their homage to Jesus and Mary Chain early on, but it seems now they’re looking forward to other popular Brit acts like the Stone Roses…seriously.  Crimes of Passion is a pop record; it just happens to be one filled with light elements of noise and experimentation, showing us all where Crocodiles once were, yet giving us a glimpse of where they are going.

Gritty Rocker from Crocodiles

crocsI passed on this track a couple of days ago; I’m sorry, my life’s a mess! But, now that I’m back with it, I think everyone needs to take a good listen to this new jam from Crocodiles.  This is the sort of track I expected to hear more of when the band released their last effort, Endless Flowers, though that ended up a bit too polished.  On this number, they still have some melodic hooks, especially in the chorus, but the song itself seems to ooze with noisier elements on the edges, making the track more than just some casual pop ditty. You can find this tune on Crimes of Passion, which comes out on August 20th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Crocodiles-Cockroach.mp3]

Download: Crocodiles – Cockroach [MP3]

Crocodiles – Endless Flowers

Rating: ★★★½☆

A few years back, Dan Treacy of Television Personalities used Crocodiles as his backing band, and that’s when I first caught wind of the group.  I trust Dan, so I scoured the net in search of news, only to stumble upon a group that I thought was unfairly being compared to Jesus and the Mary Chain.  Sure, I see the similarities, but as evidenced by Endless Flowers, the group has a lot more in relation to jangling art-pop than JMC.

“Endless Flowers” does utilize some squalling guitar wailing to kick off the whole affair, but vocally, it harkens back to the musical re-imagining of early 00s band such as Longwave; there’s a simple melodic tone that gives listeners that soft-footed shuffle.  “Sunday” again has that atmospheric guitar sound, so everyone’s going to already toss the JMC comparison back onto Crocodiles, but mentally I’m stripping the sound off these tracks, choosing instead to focus on the bright quality of the vocal delivery; it provides a youthful exuberance akin to Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

As Endless Flowers evolves, you begin to see the gentler side of the band, offering a steadier dosage of pop melody as preferred to noise.  “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee” is definitely a heartfelt ballad, considering the band’s relation to Dee Dee (not Ramone).  It’s a standout song, demonstrating that the group’s not always content with upping the noise quotient. Interestingly, as they begin to unleash a lighter side, they also begin to let that element fully collide with their noisier moments.  It leads to some of the longer tracks, such as “My Surfing Lucifer” and “Dark Alleys,” with the latter remaining as one of my favorite tracks on the record.

They break through it all to wrap up the record quite nicely, giving you a rollicking stomp track in “Welcome Trouble.”  The jagged guitar line cutting in the background just builds you to the raucous stomp that ups the ante during the chorus.  It’s got a bit of post-rock swagger to go along with the energetic chorus, and it definitely helps illustrate the group’s progressive direction. Closing out with the quieter “You Are Forgiven” again finds Crocodiles in a steady ballad form that should leave no doubt that the band is capable of affecting songs without having to fill each track with noise.  Admittedly, the chirping of the birds in the background of the recording might make it seem like a B-Side or an afterthought, but the strength of the song itself warrants its inclusion here.

I can see the Internet still hyping up the JMC connection, but perhaps when I listened to Endless Flowers, I was hoping for more, so I forgave its presence and looked closer at the core content in the songs.  If you approach listening to the latest from Crocodiles then I have the feeling that you’ll understand where I am coming from.  Regardless, I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this whole album, especially when you turn it up to 10 (11 is so cliche).

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Crocodiles-Sunday-Psychic-Conversation-9.mp3]

Download:Crocodiles – Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) [MP3]

Stereogum Has the Hits – Violens and Crocodiles

We’re a small site, so we don’t always get the hits as soon as everyone else.  Normally, I wouldn’t post everything, as you can clearly go to Stereogum, but I absolutely am loving these two tracks.  The first one comes from Violens, one of our favorites.  The band’s always writing tracks it seems, and they’ve apparently got True set to see release in May on Slumberland Records.  Then there’s Crocodiles, who’ve refined their sound, bringing about this ridiculously awesome track.  The group will release Endless Flowers on June 4th, and I hope it all sounds like the track below. Check out both these tracks, as they’re worth your time, and tell us which one’s better!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Violens-Unfolding-Black-Wings.mp3]

Download:Violens – Unfolding Black Wings [MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Crocodiles-Sunday-Psychic-Conversation-9.mp3]

Download:Crocodiles – Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) [Mp3