BEST OF 2013: Thor's Picks

BEST OF 2013: Thor's Picks

10. Arctic Monkeys - AM

Seeing the Arctic Monkeys live is the closest thing in 2013 to seeing one of the monolithic classic rock bands of yesteryear in their prime. The Arctic Monkeys have consistently found a way to make great rock albums, fill big venues, and all the while be one of the closest things to a proper mega-star rock band we can get. Their latest album AM takes a bit of the laidback melodies they dived headfirst into on Suck It And See and throws a gorgeous R&B twist onto them. They still know how to crush skulls, though; just listen to the Zeppelin groove of album highlight “R U Mine?” 

LIVE: Crocodiles @ The Black Cat -9/29/12

The San Diego band Crocodiles tore into the Black Cat on Saturday, turned the amps up to “freaking deafening,” and played a perfect, tight 40-minute set - then they left the stage, wandered back to the bar, and that was the end of the show.  Unlike the reaction from the audience after Jack White’s now-infamous similar early exit this weekend, the sparse but dedicated crowd for Crocodiles seemed at first confused, then resigned to wander back through the club to look for members of both Crocodiles and opener Punks from Mars, and just hang out for a while.

The first three songs were drenched in enough reverb to crush your ribs, and the band members spent the opening 10 minutes primarily with their backs to the audience, playing guitars straight into the amplifiers and messing with the levels and floor pedals to increase the wall of noise.  Crocodiles focuses on an insane amount of distortion, and sound like Echo and the Bunnymen dragged ass-backward through a Joy Division filter - and it’s not a coincidence that Echo’s first album was named “Crocodiles.”  Every song of Saturday’s abbreviated set was solid, but you’re left thinking "wait, what does that sound like?" at the end of every one.  They do what they do very, very well, but the influences are obvious.  Theirs is not exactly an original sound, but the songs are excellent, and the band is great live.  It’s as if the good bands of the 80s all mushed together to spawn Crocodiles outright to pick up where they left off.