Home Read Albums Of The Week: Crocodiles | Upside Down In Heaven

Albums Of The Week: Crocodiles | Upside Down In Heaven

The long-running, shape-shifting duo's eighth album packs plenty of pop-punk bite.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell of Crocodiles got together nearly 25 years ago. After becoming acquainted at a local anti-racism meeting, the two found their respective teenage bands booked on the same bill.  Young Brandon watched in awe as teenage Charlie clambered up a confused family’s table and proceeded to bash the living hell out of his cheap guitar. When his set was through, Charlie melted back into the crowd and also found himself awe-struck as the pubescent Brandon took the ‘stage’ (floor) to shriek, croon, howl and spit his way through his band’s allotted 20 minutes. Once the noise was over, the two found each other, expressed their mutual admiration and agreed to dissolve their bands and join forces.

After a few false starts, the duo found their footing with now near-mythical noise-punk group The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower. They spent the next five years traversing the U.S., playing every backwoods dump that would have them, meeting and inspiring other like-minded freaks and occasionally getting the shit kicked out of them by feral rednecks. Eventually the Plot imploded in a cloud of poverty and addiction. Once the dust settled, Charlie and Brandon agreed to keep this partnership of theirs going.

Photo by Allan Wan.

After a few years spent experimenting with their songwriting (‘Why can’t you mix ’60s pop with deathrock?’ they once asked) and trying out various lineups and names, they decided to trim the fat. They booted out the half-committed jokers they were working with, trading them in for a beat-up old drum machine. Immediately, they set to work on the group of songs which would become Crocodiles’ debut album; the spaced-out, gritty noise-pop classic Summer Of Hate.

Fast-forward to the dystopian future of 2023. The previous 15 years have seen the core duo change lineups (two-piece, five-piece, two-piece again, four-piece), location (San Diego, N.Y.C., Paris, Mexico City, London, L.A.), sounds (art-punk, psychedelic haze, lush ’60s-inspired pop, trashed-out glam) and hairstyles (good, bad, ugly). They have dropped seven LPs, several EPs and singles and toured incessantly, taking their unique brand of rock ’n’ roll to every corner of the globe.

While the lineups, locations and sounds have changed, Brandon and Charlie have never wavered from their initial teenage mission to help each other escape a life of drudgery, boredom and expectation through music, art, friendship and adventure. They have persevered through the highs and the lows, always together, always creating. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been interesting. Now, after the pandemic-induced slowdown, the boys have returned with their eighth album, Upside Down In Heaven.”