CD Review

Croc Shop – “Croc_Shop.SEA”

By Marcus Pan

Croc_Shop.SEACroc 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 staple.

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 remixes.

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 they’ve pounded dance floors for all of us. Chances are even if you don’t know of them, you’ve heard them. And if you’re curious, Croc_Shop.SEA is the best way to go about it. DAMn! has done a fine job with this release. If you’re 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.

Contact Information:
Damn!
Post: PO Box 2321, Neptune CIty, NJ, 07754, USA