For me, Austin has always been on my radar from some of the best progressive bands to come from the Lone Star state. Whether it’s Proud Peasant, Opposite Day, Thirteen of Everything, Stop Motion Orchestra, and this new band that launched two years ago of this new up-and-coming quartet called, Crocodile. The band considers; Greg Seale on Drums, Philip Spann (since replaced by Thomas Shaw) on Keyboards, Kevin Sims on Vocals and Guitar, and Ted Thomas on Bass Guitar and Vocals. They’ve released their debut album this year entitled, His Name Is Stan And He’s A Bad Motherf**ker.
Crocodile’s music takes a lot inspirations from the realms of Gentle Giant, Haken, Jethro Tull, and Rock Progressivo Italiano band, Premiata Forneria Marconi. The quartet honors the legacy and the spirit of the genre by making sure the flaming fires of Progressive Rock keep burning more and more and never hitting the water. Their debut album is also a concept album, about a story that Kevin Sims wrote about a man named, Stan when he was 16 years old.
Stan is a Workaholic. And obsessive. What he wants to do is be the type of person who wants to get the job done right and making sure that Stan wants to reach towards the light at the end of the tunnel to survive and see how much he’s accomplished from a young age to adulthood. I’ve picked a few highlights on the album that really got my attention and keeping an eye out for this band that will hopefully get the word out.
You have this almost wacky time change of 3/4 along with some other odd changes coming through the xylophones and guitars on I Was a Worker. There are these Carousel-like arrangements from Stan’s like as a working man as the nod to both Gentle Giant and Haken’s background vocal arrangements flow well as if forming a tight circle as the walking up-and-down section of the stairs that is part of the melodic mode format.
The catchy beats on Sawhorse, rides off into a new chapter in Stan’s life as if he’s on the rocket ship ready to hurl through the cosmos while Kevin and Philip bring the puzzle pieces together by creating magic and working hand-in-hand as a band of brothers to know they got each other’s back. Then, there’s the gothic folkish nightmare lullaby instrumental with Mellotron chords with a Danny Elfman-sque score that is straight out of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands on the short instrumental Interlude (lunchtime).
Stan, is a real killing composition. It describes the main character as if it was told through Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet from the 1994 cult classic of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Kevin’s guitar goes from and rhythmic structures that at times has some bluesy vibes as the opening riff between him and Phillip’s keyboards shows how much hard work Stan goes through day and night.
With Stir the Stain (F**k the Door), there are these mysterious tones almost as if Crocodile are searching for more clues to see what the criminal left behind. Not to mention a late ‘60s vibe on the guitar chords with a psychedelic vibe, hypnotizing sounds, and bass-picking by Ted Thomas as if he and the band mates are picking up the pace to know they are on the right track.
The closer, I am Stan begins with this Bluegrass electric intro featuring the harpsichord. The song takes place 25 years later as Stan has accomplished for all the work he’s done, through the thick and thin, and the heart that he has inside of him. And it goes to show that he’s come full circle. The band come together to bring Stan walking off into the sunset and knowing that it is time for him to relax and take a long vacation.
Crocodile have really got something that not just took me by surprise, but how their debut album works on different levels. Whether it’s hard, gothic, progressive, or odd time signatures, they've completely brought it all to the table. And while this is my ninth time listening to their first album, the beginning for them to walk on the Yellow Brick Road is only just the beginning.