By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
By Liz Tracy
By Matt Preira
By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
Crocodiles' transition from a posthardcore past is complete. The San Diego duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell still had a bit of the brute force of their old outfits, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower and Some Girls, bottled up their first record, 2009's Summer of Hate. (Though the static-drenched postpunk jam "I Wanna Kill" is less severe than it sounds.)
Now, the shimmering, glam beauty of last year's Sleep Forever shows that these guys can grasp any sort of pop songwriting — this time, it's a fuzzy, dream narrative that'll still sound great overloading the speakers as it causes an uncontainable emotional swell in the chest. Carrying these songs on two sets of shoulders proved to be too much in concert, though. What used to be a stripped-down, squalling two-piece live show has grown to a full band, which includes drummer Alianna Kalaba, bassist Marco Gonzalez, and keyboardist Robin Eisenberg.
Just to get a better grasp of how the guys settled on their multilayered sound, New Times hit up Welchez and Rowell for a playlist of influential melodies — with no Jesus and Mary Chain necessary here. These ten songs are all devastating, beautiful, and filled with the hypercharged human spirit coloring their own work.
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1) X — "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes"
"Leadbelly may have written this. Either way, it's a standard; there is a ton of versions. 'Dancing with tears in my eyes because the girl in my arms isn't you.' Everyone can relate to that lyric."
2) Ivy Green — "I'm Sure We're Gonna Make It"
"This Dutch punk band from the late '70s was way ahead of its time in terms of minimalism with this track. There is so much energy and aggression in this song, which is really just one chord (a second chord makes a brief appearance but lasts only a second)."
3) John Cale — "Big White Cloud"
"An absolutely beautiful song. Very simple melodically and lyrically and totally perfect."
4) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — "Deanna"
"This is exactly how music should sound. Weird, intense, imperfect, lyrical, and above all, catchy as fuck."
5) Patti Smith — "Babelogue/Rock and Roll Nigger"
"Patti is one of the best and bravest lyricists of all time. She reappropriates a hateful term and turns it around to be a person of any race who understands suffering and strives to transcend the strictures of culture. The lyrics are incredible. 'Outside of society, they're waiting for me/Outside of society, that's where I wanna be.' In the song, she name-checks Jimi Hendrix, Jackson Pollock, Jesus Christ, and her grandmother as people who attained this special status."
6) SRC — "Black Sheep"
"SRC was a great Detroit rock 'n' roll band, contemporaries of the Stooges and the MC5. Like those bands, they totally got it. It's surprising they aren't better-known."
7) Ornette Coleman — "Lonely Woman"
"Listen to that saxophone cry! Ornette is one of the true rebels of jazz music. He was constantly ahead of his time."
8) Roxy Music — "Editions of You"
"This band shows that music can be smart and eccentric while never losing its sense of fun. Roxy Music was so over-the-top, and the songs were just so perfect!"
9) Arthur Alexander — "Soldier of Love"
"Beautiful song, beautiful lyrics."
10) John Lennon — "I Found Out"
"This is off Lennon's first solo record, which is one of the rawest and most emotional albums ever committed to tape. On this record, he tries to exorcise all his demons very publicly and honestly. He had humongous balls to follow up being in the biggest band of all time with a record as brutal and lyrically revealing as this one."