Crocodiles: “Neon Jesus”

crocodilesThis San Diego duo is not nearly as menacing as the reptiles after which it is named—in fact, one of them does quite a good job channeling a young Bob Dylan—but many of their critics have been more than happy to take a bite out of these boys for being too “derivative.” Although Pitchfork and The New York Times are divided on their debut album, Summer of Hate, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell are still riding the wave of hype generated by No Age’s vote for “Neon Jesus” as one of the best songs of 2008. (I agree, which is why it’s featured here but not present on the record.) Methinks that if these dudes were all buzz and no talent, the excitement would have faded into the ether by now, no?

But let’s address the very serious issue of imitation. In a Noisevox interview, the band admits to deliberately borrowing elements of their influences at times (like The Crystals’ guitar riff in “I Wanna Kill”), but claims that it was done reverentially—not as a sly subterfuge for which they could be discovered and shamed—but also that some of it (like the monotone melody of Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Head On,” for example) happened subconsciously. They’re also touchy about being pigeonholed into a specific genre (of noise-pop). As for that, until they’ve expanded their repertoire, they’ve made their bed as far as I’m concerned. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to sleep in it with them. Make up your own mind tonight at The Rickshaw Stop, where Crocodiles perform with Pens and Graffiti Island.

Crocodiles – Neon Jesus

Who: Crocodiles

What: Summer of Hate

Where: San Diego, California

When: 4.28.2009

Why: “I’m a stranger in the holy land / But I keep my strangeness close at hand.”

How: Fat Possum


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