Los Angeles has been the undisputed ruler of lo-fi leaning,Jesus And Mary Chain-loving, amp-fuzz guitar bands since aroundthe middle of the last decade. For a lot of people the only act that’mattered’ from that scene is, of course, the dynamic-duo NoAge, whose energetic teen-punk charisma won the hearts of so manyLA hipsters. The legendary avant-DIY rock club The Smell proudlybears the cover of the band’s Weirdo Rippers on its back wall. Butthere’s also Mika Miko, HEALTH, The Mae Shi andAbe Vigoda – all bands who’ve made solid names for themselveswithin the City of Angels’ insulated world of indie rock.
So it seemed almost inevitable that LA’s sneer would eventuallytrickle down south to San Diego, and sure enough, around 2007 quite afew bands started playing music like they grew up a few hours north.Anchored critically by the ever-divisive Wavves, people haveslowly started talking about “the San Diego lo-fi scene” and havenaturally made a connection to the much more fertile “Los Angeleslo-fi scene”. But Crocodiles have been one of the few bands from thecity to have the sound, spirit, and professionalism to make it out ofthe blog-buzz mire and into the world of label-released LPs andRolling Stone write-ups. Their second record Sleep Forever has theband sounding ever more apart from their one-trickcontemporaries.
Sleep Forever has the band trying a number of styles while stayingin one particular blanketing aesthetic, that being early ’80spost-punk. They’re sometimes gothy, like the blip-blooping,chintz-synth love-ode All My Hate and My Hexes Are For You, andsometimes they’re noise-poppy, like on the buzz-sawing guitar attackon opener Mirrors, but most of the time they’re just really, reallyhazy – coating every inch of their sound in warm layer of fuzz.
Butwhile that fuzz sometimes limits the scope of a band, Crocodiles areable to get massive sound out of the power of indistinguishable noise.A band like Small Black has the same sense of blearing outtheir instruments, but they end up sounding meek because of it.Crocodiles always sound impressively powerful; the title track inparticular is led by huge stomping stadium drums and a vocalperformance that can only be described as epic. It earnestly pays tributeto unlikely British pop gods The Stone Roses and Oasis – not obvious touchstones for a noise rock band.
Crocodiles have more swagger, and more of an actual, crowd-pleasingrock star quality than pretty much every other band in their specificscene. You’re not going to hear Wavves crank out an uplifting,unironic banger anytime soon, and that smirking sense of apathypartially devalues that band’s music. Crocodiles are atalented rock band with a strong sense of songwriting, for sure, butthey’re also very happy to be playing music, and that joy shinesthrough any amount of fuzz Sleep Forever might throw at you.