Thu Apr 2 2009
Photograph: James Norton
Bowery Ballroom; Thu 2
Pianos; Sat 4
Even before they became Crocodiles, Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez were reptilian creatures: the vocal-and-guitar half of the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, a quartet that wreaked havoc upon its native San Diego before disbanding in 2006. That group dabbled in fascist imagery—always charming!—and its enduring traveling companion, aggressive homoeroticism. Although the Plot’s reign of terror was confined to this decade, its brand of punk nihilism seemed more dated, a corny relic of Thatcher-era alienation.
Not surprisingly, Rowell and Welchez have distanced themselves from their former act. But while the wild noise and stage antics have dimmed, the new duo, which entered the public eye after being applauded by California punk tastemakers No Age, remains very much wedded to anger and gloom. Crocodiles’s debut album, Summer of Hate (due on Fat Possum at the end of the month), takes its cues from dark drones of decades past. Their two-man arrangement, in which Rowell plays guitar and Welchez passively sings, nods to Suicide; more conspicuously, Crocodiles alludes to the Jesus and Mary Chain, who similarly launched on an anarchic note and gradually subsumed their rage into feedback-plastered pop. “All the kids sing along with me,” Welchez croons on “I Wanna Kill,” Crocodiles’s most sweetly melodic moment. “I want to kill things.” As the song glides along, it becomes difficult not to take the Californian’s sun-kissed directive and sing along.—Jay Ruttenberg
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