The Growlers play party music that's shot through with an undertone of melancholy. It's as if their sepia-tinted rock songs come equipped with both the drunken cheeriness and the nauseating hangover.
They know how to rollick like champs, but they can also creep along with a vaguely Eastern European worldweariness that's endearing. They may claim Ol' Dirty Bastard and Lee "Scratch" Perry as influences on their MySpace page (wigga, please), but the Growlers actually sound more like Man Man if they were fixated on pre-psych rock that's too sophisticated to be considered "garage." This nebulous quality makes the Growlers one of the most interesting bands working in the region.
The Growlers sent us a CD called The Greatest Hits, but at 25 tracks and 78 minutes, it sounds more like an archival clearinghouse of ideas. Most of these songs exude a casual, understated cool, marked by winding, mesmerizing, spangly guitars and Brooks Nielsen's riveting, woebegone vocals. Even 38-second scraps such as "My Forehead's Dripping Ocean" bear close listening.
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They're not very blues-rooted, but they do project an un-hokey sadness that consoles rather than brings you down (could be the band's recessive folk genes). As I wrote in my live review on our Heard Mentality blog, "Their music possesses an insidious infectiousness that sneaks up on you like inebriation after a few sweet libations" (see "The Wildbirds and the Growlers, Detroit Bar," Aug. 7, 2007). I bet you become besotted, too.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/lbcgrowlers.
The Growlers perform with Lemon Sun, Somedays and Gantez Warrior at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930; www.thecoachhouse.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $10. All ages.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.