MMS First Impressions - Chinese Fountain by The Growlers

Photo courtesy of Taylor Bonin
Costa Mesa "beach goth" outfit The Growlers try to prove they're turning on, tuning in, and growing up with Chinese Fountain, their album releasing September 23 on Everloving Records.

Make no mistake; maturity isn't an adjective easily or absolutely applied to The Growlers, the scatalogically named beach bums notorious for drunken escapades. These antics include falling off the stage at Coachella and accidentally burning down their home/studio with fireworks. Nonetheless, Chinese Fountain not only boasts a less shambolic sound than earlier releases, but also demonstrates the band stretching beyond their trademark sun-and-salt-bleached atmospherics to reflect on life and love.

Vocalist Brooks Nielsen's gravelly tenor sounds like he could be the dissolute cousin of Coconut Records' Jason Schwartzman or The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, but he pushes his way into new vocal territory on tracks like 'Black Memories' and 'Big Toe'. The former is gauzy and sun-kissed as a California beach dawn, the latter a beat-driven surf rock beatdown of a former love. The title track borrows liberally from early New Wave and protopunk, channeling Blondie's 'Rapture' and the speak-singing style of Lou Reed in equal measures. Nielsen waxes positively sentimental on the Everly-esque 'Rare Hearts', singing that he's never, "seen anything so pretty as a girl who gives me all her loving", stating that "[s]he stopped my world from spinning". Heady words indeed from a band who once discussed how they were now moderating their level of intoxication prior to taking the stage.

You'll get your chance to witness the spectacle first-hand next Saturday, September 20, at the Black Cat. Opening for The Growlers will be fellow Orange County punk rockers The Garden. Doors open at 9pm, and tickets are $13. Give a listen to 'Dull Boy', their first single from Chinese Fountain.