The Growlers 2009-2019:
A Decade of Beach Goth and More
Bold, electric, and dynamic. Since 2009, multimember indie rock band the Growlers have paved their way into music’s soft and artsy niche creating the genre known as beach goth – a blend of both surf and garage rock, hints of psychedelic rock, and a sprinkle of synthpop. The Growlers were formed in 2006 in Dana Point, California and their music without a doubt emanates a laid-back, west-coast sound. The band has created a distinct sound for themselves and even their own annual music festival, Beach Goth, in which they have hosted and performed at every year in the heart of Los Angeles.
At the time of the band’s formation, The Growlers had more members. Today, the band is composed of vocalist Brooks Nielsen, lead guitarist Matt Taylor and keyboard player/guitarist Kyle Straka. As far their elaborate discography, The Growlers have released seven studio albums as well as four EPs. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen’s vocals give off an air of raspy, twangy and raw delight. In fact, when asked about the smokiness in his voice in an interview by DotheBay, Brooks described himself as “an old soul” due to the fact that he started smoking when he was really young, knowing the damage he was causing to his body but relentlessly continuing to smoke. When it comes to lyrical content and inspiration, The Growlers tend to stick to sing to themes regarding love, heartbreak, nostalgia, and progression.
Although having been their first project, the album Are You In Or Out? (2009) houses some of The Growlers most dynamic tracks such as “Banacle Beat” and “Acid Rain.” There is a cinematic beauty to the track “Banacle Beat,” as the beat of it sounds like it could be in the film The Place Beyond the Pines because it dispenses a circus kind of sound. On the other hand, “Acid Rain” is a plain cool song with its catchy and uptempo chorus.
Released the following year, Hot Tropics (2010) does not have too many standout tracks, and it feels like a lot of the songs melt together to create a sound chafing the walls of monotony. However, The Growlers exponentially impress listeners with their next four albums: Gilded Pleasures (2013), Hung at Heart (2013), Chinese Fountain (2014), and City Club (2016).
In Gilded Pleasures, the most notable track is “Tell It How It Is.” In this song, Brooks essentially talks about how it’s unrealistic to please everybody and at some point in life one must take the plunge and speak his/her truth. Perhaps the rawness in his voice coincides with the lyrical jabs that sting of the truth when facing reality.
On the other hand, Chinese Fountain is solid album that is tinged with both humor and sadness. In the song “Big Toe,” Brooks sings “Her love so uncomfortable, she slacks down like a hammer on your big toe.” The illustration that this lyric forms is somewhat curious. Perhaps the most heartfelt song on this album is “Love Test,” as one of the lyrics is “You can test a woman for honesty, You can go and test for her goodness, But it’s a wicked game and a crying shame, There’s no way to give her a love test.” The song then continues with its lagged chorus that feels like honey to one’s ears.
In The Growlers album cover of City Club, an electric visual of a nightclub is displayed as partygoers in bright outfits stand in front of the scene and the band’s name is inscribed on a red neon sign. This illustration in many ways reflects the entire vibe of the album. Many of the tracks in City Club radiate a feeling as if the songs are playing in another room and listeners are listening in lust. The intro of “Night Ride” is eerie and clean, and the lyrics of “When You Were Made” are beautifully crafted in a bittersweet kind of way.
All in all, The Growlers have released great content and will hopefully surprise listeners with more great projects.
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