A touch of psychedelia, a smidge of shoegaze and sounding like they spent a whole lot of time in a garage playing covers of The Shondells is the basic Crocodiles recipe. So the real question, if one dares to ask, is this any different from the plethora of bands also trying to mine this vein?
Well, yes and no…
Heading into summer lets use baseball as an analogy. Major League Baseball has thirty teams all trying to attain a single goal – win the World Series. There are a lot of both good and bad teams that resemble one another but only the best really stand out while the rest are merely background noise until the playoffs arrive.
The Crocodiles are contenders.
Many bands have similar sounds but the pure catchiness and fun they exude is what keeps bringing me back for more. Hell, if they hired Rick Rubin to produce they would likely end up sounding like The Cult during the Electric era.
As it is, their brand of ‘riff-riding’ gives them a different team from others. They’re not as angry or skillful as Detroit’s Dirtbombs and they’re not as trippy as California’s Best Coast, but they carry your attention down the stretch.
“Crybaby Demon” starts things off with a “She Sells Santuary” guitar intro that takes a left turn towards the Happy Mondays. “Do The Void” plays with a 90’s alt-rock sludge guitar than breaks towards a early 70’s Banana Splits party. To a certain degree, listening to the Crocodiles is a bit like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded – it’s a great adventure and half the fun is not knowing where the hell you’re going next.
You can get the new Crocodiles album Boys on multiple formats at all those places music is being sold.
Something about ‘garage rock’ makes it so timeless. Maybe it’s the fuzzed out guitars or the berserker energy with which the six-string is played, but it certainly rocks the house when done right.
Perhaps that’s why I got so excited the first time I heard the Dirtbombs. They had even more than I could’ve imagined going for them. Backing the vocals and guitar ‘riffage’ of Mick Collins is a band that boasts dual bass guitar and dual drums and every song they power through is uniquely their own, even when they pull off a great cover.
Which is exactly what Ultraglide In Black is, a covers album (with one original). Every bit as powerful as anything the White Stripes have done, Ultraglide in Black looks back at some classic R&B and soul and channels it through the ghost of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and MC5.
If you take a song like Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City” which thematically deals with systemic racism, the original comes off musically with a gospel and hopeful air. Under Collins, the Dirtbombs version is anger and seething. It strips away the hope and with the help of both a sinister sounding bass and guitar the songs conclusions ‘of just enough’ sounds angry and futile.
In fact, this album is Collins interpretation of ‘Black America’ through the songs of the artists he grew up with. You get Sly Stone’s “Underdog”, Curtis Mayfield’s “Kung Fu”, Phil Lynott’s “Ode to a Black Man” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” blasting out the speakers with this tremendous power that Mick Collins finds for every damn song on the record.
As you finish Ultraglide In Black, you find yourself wondering why this album has sat under the radar for most people. It isn’t just a great record worth of songs, it is a classic record that should be in everyones collection.
You can get it here.