Crocodiles - "Endless Flowers" CD Review (Frenchkiss Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crocodiles - "Endless Flowers" CD Review (Frenchkiss Records)

Crocodiles -
You have to love a band like San Diego’s Crocodiles for being able to channel their obvious influences (Jesus & Mary Chain / Echo & the Bunnymen / Spacemen 3) into creating a sound that mines this genre without sounding derivative. San Diego’s Crocodiles are releasing their third disc, Endless Flowers, on June 5th on Frenchkiss Records which is a ten-track (42 minute) slab of psychedelic, fuzzed-out garage rock. Note: for vinyl junkies, there is a limited edition LP pressing on red/white marble vinyl available through Souterrain Transmissions' Web Store.

Recorded in Berlin last summer, Endless Flowers is the first album to feature Crocodiles' full five-piece line up, which has evolved from their 2008 genesis as the core duo of singer/guitarist Brandon Welchez and guitarist Charles Rowell to include keyboardist Robin Eisenberg, bassist Marco Gonzalez, and drummer Anna Schulte. Endless Flowers follows in the footsteps of the band's two previous releases (2010's Sleep Forever and 2009's debut Summer of Hate), while adding a refined cohesion and unmistakable sunniness to their glorious noise- and echo-drenched pop.

Tracks range from the title-track opener which sounds like it could have been an Echo & the Bunnymen hit to the post-punk wall of noise of “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)” to the Byrdsian psychedelia of “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee”. “Hung Up on a Flower” is 6+ minute track that starts with John Lennon style piano (think “Imagine”) before going into a mellow psychedelic shoegazer number and the track ends with two minutes of grinding guitars and vocal sound loops. There is even a track of pure psychedelic bliss where front-man Brandon Welchez sounds as though he is about to float off into space (“You Are Forgiven”).

A number of tracks from Endless Flowers could be indie-rock singles (along the same lines of JAMC’s “Just Like Honey”) and the standouts are “My Surfing Lucifer” and “Dark Alleys”. In comparing the new disc to its predecessors, Welchez said “I think those two albums, while I love them, were somewhat monochrome. This one is in full color”.

Helmut Katzenflugen, neighbor and ”biographer” of the band’s time in Berlin, described his impressions of the new disc as: “Immediately I was struck by the songs. No two were alike, though all were held together by strong hooks and strange layers of floating atmosphere….Charles’ guitar playing alternated between lost-in- space weightlessness and jagged brush-strokes of aural violence. He seemed to strike the perfect balance between his intellectual and more primal tendencies. Marco and Anna cut a strong figure as the rhythm section. Her love of Klaus Dinger (“Mein Klaus”, she called him) was evident in the motorik march of “Dark Alleys,” while her affinity for Robert Wyatt and Tommy Ramone, two of her other drum idols, was showcased elsewhere. Marco’s prowess on the bass was demonstrated in the fluidly melodic runs of some of the album’s poppier moments and the thuggish minimalism of some of its more experimental ones. Robin, the group’s secret weapon, held the album together with her mastery of the organ, contributing moments of Modern Lovers-esque sublimity on one song then swathes of dreamy murk the next. In many places on the record she sang harmony with Brandon, the group’s singer and occasional rhythm guitarist. While her voice provided an ethereal relief from the distortion, his varied from a trashcan croon to pure adolescent snot. I was sold on the album immediately – it satisfied my pop desire while retaining an oddball down-to-Earth grit.