Crocodiles - Sleep Forever

Crocodiles are a duo from San Diego consisting of Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez. Though they may hail from temperate climes, their acclaimed 2009 debut Summer Of Hate was definitely no Beach Boys theramin-heavy sunshine trip, owing much owe much more to the dark, druggy sounds of icons such as Suicide, Spacemen 3, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Songs like the title track, “I Wanna Kill,” and “Refuse Angels” contain elements like spooky tremolo, brutal beats, and nasty feedback, and most importantly, they are catchy as hell. Sleep Forever isn’t a huge departure from the debut.  Like Summer of Hate, Sleep contains only eight songs and clocks in at under 35-minutes, the band again not wasting time on any excesses whatsoever; in other words, another noise pop masterpiece.

Recorded in a desert studio in Joshua Tree with James Ford, who has worked with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Klaxons, Sleep blends together all of the influences that were prominent on the debut with a tad more experimentation. Tracks like “Stoned To Death” and “Hollow Hollow Eyes” feature prominent Krautrock beats that pound like a Mack truck speeding trough the Autobahn. On the other side of the spectrum, the lovely “Girl In Black” and, especially, the masterful closer “All My Hate And My Hexes Are For You” sooth like the dreamier side of Spacemen 3/Sopiritualized with hypnotic drones and lush instrumentation (the latter is about the prettiest ‘fuck you’ song you’ll ever hear!).

The more ‘typical’ sounding Crocodiles tracks on Sleep Forever are stone classics that belong on jukeboxes worldwide. The absolutely fantastic title track (released as a pre-album 7” with a bewitching fuzzed-up cover of Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” as the B-side), is a ridiculously catchy, bordering on bubblegum, shoegaze nugget that sounds like a cross between The Telescopes, Jesus and Mary Chain and ‘60s sunshine pop. The staggering “Mirrors” begins with dreamy drones before soaring to epic heights like the best of The Church or Echo and The Bunnymen (probably not a coincidence that Crocodiles share the same name as the first Echo record), while best of all is the infectious “Hearts Of Love,” which combines a sickly catchy melody with a crushing wall of sound that would put a huge smile on Phil Spector’s face, especially the juvenile delinquent-themed video for the song, which is like something out of a vintage James Dean or Marlon Brando movie.

Fires Of Comparison is a digital only EP that can be downloaded for free on the Fat Possum label website. All four of these instrumental tracks are as engaging as Crocodiles’ two proper albums. The none-too-subtly titled “Kill Joe Arpaio” attacks the controversial Arizona anti-immigration sheriff with a heady brew of experimental beats and talk show samples, while “A House With Skin Like Yours” explores similar psychedelic ground to The Black Angels. The brief title track is a little bit of an overly experimental throwaway, but the EP concludes on a high note with the exquisite “Hearts Reprise.” 

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