Sept. 8 2010 02:53 PM

CD reviews of the latest from The Adicts, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan and Crocodiles

1_Adicts
The Adicts
Life Goes On
(People Like You Records)
*8.0*
Goes well with: Buzzcocks, Toy Dolls, Mad Parade

Many bands from the ’70s boast about their longevity, but how many are playing with all their founding members? The Adicts have added a few musicians, but they haven’t lost any of the original lineup after 35 years. Though dormant for much of the ’90s and early ’00s, the “droogs” are back with their best record since Smart Alex.

Known for their onstage antics and A Clockwork Orange get-up, The Adicts have always drawn from eclectic influences. Life Goes On is no different. “I’m Not Scared of You” is a doo-wop number laced with Pete Dee’s frenetic guitar licks, and “The Whole World’s Gone Made” laments the state of affairs in England, where the band is from, and southern California, where many members make their home. More pop than punk, these songs are incredibly catchy, but The Adicts can still rev things up when they want to. “Full Circle” is a pit just waiting to explode. Perhaps the strangest song is “Gangster,” a total departure from the rest of the record. Slow and strange, it’s Bauhaus-meets-Portishead, with whispered lyrics from Keith “Monkey” Warren.

Equal parts campy punk and pop cabaret, Life Goes On is a welcome addition to The Adicts catalog and should prove to make an already energetic stage show even livelier.
—Jim Ruland

The Adicts play Wednesday, Sept. 15, at House of Blues.

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

HAWK

(Vanguard)
*7.9*
Goes well with: Belle & Sebastian, Screaming Trees, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood

After three albums together, it’s not surprising the once-unlikely combination of Campbell’s breathy whisper and Lanegan’s whiskey-soaked, pack-a-day growl continue to work so well. What’s hard to believe is that the formula they started on 2006’s Ballad of the Broken Seas is still intact and working better than ever.

Ten years removed from her days of Scottish melancholy with Belle & Sebastian, Campbell has handled nearly all of the writing and producing duties in the partnership, while the former Screaming Trees front man has simply draped his infamous drugged-out rasp over a good share of each album. Though young troubadour Willy Mason takes a couple of turns on Hawk, Campbell and Lanegan’s chemistry is stronger than ever on the eight tracks they share. Switching back and forth between juke-joint stompers (“Get Behind Me”) and midnight molasses confessionals (“Come Undone”), the pair execute their blues-tinged Americana with a haunting, sexual energy perfectly suited for drives through the dead of night.

While the duo haven’t quite hit their collective stride, Hawk is their best effort yet, a highly enjoyable trip through their sultry world of sweet and sour.
—Scott McDonald

Crocodiles
Sleep Forever
(Fat Possum)
*9.5*
Goes well with: The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Warlocks, Spiritualized

Believe it. Crocodiles are every bit as good as the incredibly catchy promises of “I Wanna Kill” and “Soft Skull (In My Room)” from their 2009 debut, Summer of Hate. Actually, they’re better.

While those songs are bona fide, fuzzed-out, pop-rock gems, the whole of Summer was a hodge-podge of tracks recorded wherever and whenever the duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell could find the time. Constructed at a Joshua Tree studio with the help of Arctic Monkeys’ producing guru James Ford, Sleep Forever is a stunning piece of focused work that wastes nary a note over its economical 35 minutes.

Sing-along choruses, distortion-drenched guitar and switches from cacophony to cotton candy—it’s all here. And, as most of the nicely varied album’s eight songs bleed perfectly into one another, the cohesive package feels like one, big, leather-clad trip through the last five decades of rock ’n’ roll. From the pulsing waves of noise-cradling “la-la’s” in the title track to the arsenic-laced Casio confections of album closer “All My Hate and Hexes Are For You,” Welchez and Rowell show what they’re capable of and then some.

Sophomore slump? No way. It’s hard to imagine another release this year coming close to the vibrancy, accessibility and overall good time of this record.
—Scott McDonald
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