Do you like rock and roll? We sure do, and the first Tuesday of June is chock full of releases of albums that rock without fear. Crocodiles rinse and repeat the noise-filled style of Jesus and Mary Chain, while Japandroids continue to forge their own slightly new path of shout-alongs.
Stay tuned tomorrow as well for more reviews and an interview with NXNE partakers Gangstagrass.
Crocodiles – Endless Flowers
Release date: June 5
Crocodiles‘ debut Summer of Hate, released in 2009, introduced us to their somewhat unique sound, one which was fueled by the usual guitar/drums/bass setup but lathered in layers of shadow, both in the content of the lyrics and production. Endless Flowers is their third album and shows the band progressing in both feel and content, moving into more enjoyable riffs and topics.
Starting off with a song that is damn near stadium rock, this their third album is one that aims to spread the audience of what has thus far been something of a niche band.
For those who wish The Jesus and Mary Chain were still making music, there is a lot to satiate you here. Songs like “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)” whirl from start to end with boundless noise and do so well. Followup “No Black Clouds for Dee” takes that formula and slows it down, covering all that blistering noise with an almost doo-wop melody. Removed from the entirety of the album these two tracks will be perfect for any summer mix.
That is where things go from ‘good’ to…’okay’, Crocodiles should not count versatility as a strength and that problem comes to roost on this album as song after song will have you tapping your foot but you won’t remember much past the wear on your sock heel. Unfortunately, ENndless Flowers ends up being less than the sum of its parts.
There are a number of highlights to be had here, but the listener can almost guess where each song is going next, creating a rather ‘ho-hum’ experience.
Crocodiles continue to produce fun listens, but that’s about as far as it goes, and they’re showing some nice progression record to record, but they’ve yet to put it all together to form anything more than good.
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Release date: June 5
You will have to excuse me for getting political here for a moment, but Japandroids are one of the bands capturing the zeitgeist of the 2010s beautifully. Their debut album Post-Nothing was overflowing with sounds and lyrics of a generation saddled with an overly pessimistic future being laid out for them, and Celebration Rock continues in that vein.
Right out of the gate, the Vancouver drum and guitar duo delve into the mindsets of 20-somethings everywhere with ‘Nights of Wine and Roses’, a rocking track which contains calls for change like “won’t we have anything to live for/well, of course we do, but until it comes true/we’re drinking” lyrics which are belted out without much of a care for hitting notes or being entirely audible by those with sensitive ears. The singing here won’t win any rounds of American Idol, but you won’t give a damn about that when you’re screaming along with guitartist/vocalist Brian King.
Similarly, the musicanship here is nothing refined or overly technical, fans of Rush need not apply, but those who like contemporaries No Age, Japanther and drumming that owes a lot to The Walkmen will be smiling between sips from their tall boys.
The aptly titled ‘Devil’s Sway’ shows the band trying to diversify a bit, gone is the urgency of many of their other tracks and in its place is a catchy riff that does indeed sway. Tracks that follow, like ‘Adrenaline Nightshift’ and ‘Younger Us’, see the return of the urgency that defines Japandroids, and the latter especially features a drumline that seems as urgent as the many of their listeners. Throughout this album, as with their last in which they sang ‘we used to dream, now we worry about dying‘, Japandroids often reflect on the pessimistic nature of the modern mindset. From song-titles to lyrics, Japandroids are all to aware of the wave of dissatisfaction simmering just below the surface in their 20-something listeners, and their pounding of drums and ringing of guitars can begin to sound like whitecaps.
Celebration Rock‘s lead single ‘The House That Heaven Built’ is a stunner tucked just before the end of the album, should you listen far enough you will be handsomely rewarded. Even here, where the band is singing about love, both lyrics and music travel at an increased speed, the call and response vocals furthering the sense of uprising.
If you don’t pay too much attention the lyrics here, this is the perfect party rock album, assuming your block is okay with noise; and hey, if you’re party is full of like-minded people who are rather fed up with the society of lock-step complacency we live in, this is party rock of the greatest, ‘lets tear this city down’, order — especially when you do pay attention to the lyrics.