Crocodiles, Summer of Hate (Fat Possum)
Distortion has always been one of indie-rock’s most useful weapons, adding edginess where it wouldn’t otherwise exist and transforming enjoyable pop songs into abrasive, “challenging” messes that no square could ever hope to appreciate. In the ’80s, bands like Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Guided by Voices took the craft of intentional lo-fi to a whole new level, but it’s just been in the past year or so that noise has truly made its triumphant, wide-scale return to pop circles. San Diego’s Crocodiles are one of the riders of that wave, following in the steps of high-profile new groups like No Age, Times New Viking, Vivian Girls, and fellow San Diegans Wavves. Crocodiles’ debut album, Summer of Hate, even comes out on the same label as Wavves, but Summer is a thoroughly different animal. Whereas Wavves hammer out fun, juvenile punk junk, Crocodiles take their lessons more from the British post-punk school of distortion, namely Echo & The Bunnymen (whose 1980 album inspired the band’s name), Jesus and Mary Chain, and the slightly more psychedelic methods of Spacemen 3. The latter influence especially shines through on the highly enjoyable drone freakout tracks “Flash of Light” and “Sleeping with the Lord,” but the album’s most circulated cut is “I Wanna Kill,” a dead ringer for a lost JAMC B-side.