The Growlers combine tiki and psych rock to create their own beach goth genre.
There’s an excess of gooey, warm feelings and altruism right now, amiright? Purge yourself of such holiday afflictions with hobo-beach-rockers the Growlers, who bring their deliciously dirty celebrations of simplified pleasures (drugs, sex, surf) to the Belly Up this Thursday, Dec. 26.
Accurately self-branding their sound as "beach goth," the Costa Mesa group has been leaking swaying tones since 2006, when longtime friends Brooks Neilsen (vocals) and Matt Taylor (lead guitar) formed the Growlers. There’s a slow crawl to the tracks, gritty combinations of tiki and psych rock tinted with voodoo promise--a playful darkness if ever there was one--and artfully scuffed to ward off any semblance of clean production. Though maybe not prophetic, the Growlers are refreshingly genuine, their music reflecting a moment’s thought. It’s to our benefit that each record plays as a slightly refined jam sesh with overlayed lyrics, the trance-like zombie rhythms swirling into album after album.
Now a fivesome--with Scott Montoya (drums), Anthony Braun Perry (bass), and Kyle Straka (keyboards, guitar)--the Growlers are prolific. They just can’t rationalize eye-dropping their release of music. This year saw two records from the crew: January’s full-length Hung at Heart and November’s so-called EP, Gilded Pleasures, a 9-song amalgam of slow-churning beach beats that was written and recorded in two weeks. Taking the songs to the stage, Nielsen sways with the mic, twirling the cord in his fingers and bop-swaying in place, his free arm limply flailing, at times coming up in half-motions, hand bent at the wrist. Though at times looking as though they’ve been sneezed on by a thrift store, the guys don’t have an act. And so this Thursday when you slouch off the proper family-isms and button-up you’ve donned for the holiday, you can feel entirely comfortable getting weird with the Growlers. Real, real weird.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, recently moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.