The Attitude of a Goth Bikini: The Growlers

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Somewhere in my Internet travels I noted that The Growlers were categorized as Beach Goth, and I think whoever came up with that category deserves a special place in the Category-Coinage Hall of Fame.  It doesn’t sum them up of course, but it does give us a notion about the peculiar amalgam that is their sound.

Phil Ochs and Brooks Nielsen

The guitar definitely has that familiar 60s sound of surf tones, as if it’s coming from a vintage Surf Green Stratocaster from the day. Brooks Nielsen’s voice, on the other hand, is not that of your typical surfer crooner.  Now the voice he most reminds me of is one we don’t hear about much these days and that’s Phil Ochs.  And once I realized the similarities between their voices, I was immediately smitten.  Nielsen is certainly his own talent, however, and is in no way derivative of anyone.

Hang On For the Ride

There’s one thing I’ve learned for sure, and that’s that Phil Ochs should have done some good old surf music—though with the kinds of lyrics he was known for of course.  That’s really what we get with The Growlers, those somewhat dichotomous combinations of jangly surf guitar, folk-rock voice, and lyrics that seem too developed for a sound we had often associated with beach-girl names, woodies, and four on the floor.

Formed in 2007, The Growlers have five albums out now and a few EPs.  Hung at Heart (2013) is a superb album and contains fifteen excellent tracks.  You won’t go wrong starting there.