Croc Shop Croc_Shop.SEA
By Marcus Pan
Croc Shop have plowed their trade for some
time now, nearly two decades, kicking off their livelihood as a band at Rutgers
College, who's campus I drive through at least once a day on the way to work.
Since then I've witnessed them at both Batcave and Limelight at varying times.
This, their Self-Extracting Archive, is one of the better best
of collections to hit my desk in years.
For any industrial music fan, Croc_Shop.SEA is a must
have. And for anybody new to Croc Shop themselves, it is a great way to start.
It comes as a two disc set with thirty five tracks spanning their entire
career, has liner notes that includes tidbits about their music and has a fold
out showing a complete discography with track listings as well as notes for
each. And is wrapped in a brown cardboard case with a booklet that includes
notes from all of the band members discussing each of the tracks presented
here. A great way for a new fan to discover the music of a Jersey and NYC
The collection opens with their much earlier gothic rock
pieces, including my favorite Lorryish Showed Me. And for those who only
remember Croc Shop for their Celebrate the Enemy work from their third
album (Technological Optimism) on, this is a great way to discover their
earlier guitar-centric and rock roots. Of course you'll also find their first
"industrial" flavored track, the demo version of What Can You Do About
It, which the bland claims was expected to put them "on the industrial
map." From this point forward, the band earns and retains their industrial
sound, moving away from the guitars and into the digital era of music with the
continuing chronological tracks on Croc_Shop.SEA.
Something is another great track, this one off of
Beneath in 1997. It's simple, but has a continuously strong groove with
heavy bass pulses and one of the more catchy synth melodies you'll find. All
tracks between 14 and 19 on Disc 1 are from the Pain release of 1997,
the largest showing here on Croc_Shop.SEA on both discs, and this isn't
surprising considering the heyday they caused with its release. In Ruins
from this album and on track 16 considerably slows the pace of the CD down
quite a bit, giving the listener a breather before the speedier Same Cars
Crashing comes in to follow. Disc 1 comes to a close with
Erased...Me, the only track from the 98 Soviet release of
Disc 2 of the collection runs us with releases between 1999
and today, including the new track All I Want which will become part of
their upcoming untitled album. It opens with Useless, which was recorded
in 1998 yet harkens back to older still Kraftwerk style electro-industrial,
though a slight more humanistic vocally. By this point on the archives you can
easily see the maturity that has grown within Croc Shop and easily see how well
they've honed their craft since they started a decade prior to this. For the
first quarter of disc 2 you plainly see the Skinny Puppy influence in CS's
work, both electronically and in the darker soundscapes being used. We find
ourselves dropped deep into the darkness by the time Blinding comes
across, with a deep and dark bassline playing heavily on a low-tone level of
sound with the occasional brighter, and almost clashing, melody.
All I Want brings us a cleaner, techno-pop styling
and may very well show the new direction Crocodile Shop is moving with their
more recent work. If this track is any indication of what to expect in the
future from Hale and crew, then I suspect there will be hopping happy dance
floors worldwide. The final two (unlisted) tracks on Croc_Shop.SEA are
past radio interviews with the band, one of which goes as far back as the start
of their career. Any hardcore CS fan would surely appreciate it.
Crocodile Shop has been around for a while now and while
theyve pounded dance floors for all of us. Chances are even if you
dont know of them, youve heard them. And if youre curious,
Croc_Shop.SEA is the best way to go about it. DAMn! has done a fine job
with this release. If youre looking for a compilation that can almost be
subtitled as the best of the NYC/NJ scene, then this is it. One
band though it may be, Crocodile Shop have supplied us with nearly two decades
of industrial, with a smattering of guitar, that will live for a long time to
come and will, if not already has, placed them as staples and classic-makers in
the electronic music history books.
Box 2321, Neptune CIty, NJ, 07754, USA