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Hot Panda – How Come I’m Dead?

I’ve been grooving to Hot Panda’s Volcano… Bloody Volcano for quite a while now. So, I was completely thrilled when the fabulous Mint Records sent us the band’s new effort, How Come I’m Dead? I am always glad to hear more from bands I love to hear in my player!

Membership Fees (Intro) wants to freak out a bit before becoming a groovy little number. Love the creepy cello underneath the rest. Evil Nature is a sweet and fuzzy rocker with a great riff that becomes almost a Beach Boys surfer dude tune. So cool. Next up is Pools, with its tricky beat and fabulous freak-out chorus. Shoot Your Horse’s great R.E.M. intro bass run makes this duet a fun pop-western shuffle that ends with another fuzzed out guitar blast. Fuck Shit Up/Hell Hey Hex is funky and fun, bopping along weirdly before speeding right up into its screaming last minute.

Start Making Sense has another great, slinky guitar line over a peppy pop washboard road bed, complete with the chunky guitar blasts towards the end that dissolve into a Lust For Life-like dance-out. Man, these cats are busy! Poor Little Ambulance trips us out for a couple of minutes with its faux wind howling and swing beat, Clever Fox builds strength by really chewing on its intro riff, then spitting it out into a weird pop guitar gem other bands would kill for, surely.

Mindlessnesslessness (which is fun to type, by the way) double-times it straight into a Haight-Ashbury by way of the Doors rave-up that eventually morphs into a cute little riff over toy-like music and harmony vocals. 1995 brings the pace right back up, pounding away with glee. This would be so much fun in a live setting. Masculinity chugs along over more fuzzy guitars and some great, lingering horn parts (I love horns!), The Ghost wants to haunt us with the prettiest buzzy pop song yet. Finally, we get to Late Night Calling (Outro), which bookends the whole shebang with aplomb.

I loved this record. The production allows all the instruments their own space, and it’s sometimes even a bit of a harder edge than their first record. A perfect companion for these waning winter days. Sweet!

Thanks Heaps, Mighty Mint!

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Hot Panda – Volcano… Bloody Volcano

Update:

I have been sitting on this entry for FAR too long. My most abject apologies to Mint and Hot Panda for the delay on posting these thoughts. I work far, far too much, these days, meaning I have increasingly less time to do what I want to do – write about excellent music. My intentions are noble, though!

The Long-Delayed Review:

Hot Panda! Oh baby, this CD is smokin’! Mint sent me Volcano… and I’ve been through it’s fun-filled tracks several times, now, with each trip better than the last.

The key word here is energy, as in this band has a ton. The songs are infectious, the kind of thing you’ll happily tap your feet to at first listen, then really grow to love as you go deeper into the tracks. And you will go deeper, folks. This record is completely addictive.

I’ve wrestled quite a bit with how best to describe their sound, and I’ve decided that it is unique. The promo material from Mint mentions early Flaming Lips, Talking Heads, even Daniel Johnson. Yes maybe, but not entirely. They are pop, they are rock, they are retro-80s, they are current college/indie darling-sounding, they are straight from a Wes Anderson soundtrack. But most importantly, they sound like themselves. And that sound rules.

But forget trying to categorize them, or force them into some narrowly ineffectual description. Just put on Volcano… and let it’s quirky, brilliant sounds wash over you in joyous waves. The music bounces around in your head like a carnival, and then you start paying attention to the words and discover the poetic genius of how all of this fits together. Folks, this group is awesome.

Highly, highly recommended. It’s the current album you’ll tell all your friends about. Trust me.

This slice of greatness hit the streets way back on February 10th, so you have no excuses. Get out there and get it already!

Track Listing:
01 Cold Hands/Chapped Lips
02 It’s Worth Eight Dollars
03 Whale Headed Girl
04 I Tried Very Hard
05 Afraid Of The Weather
06 Sweet Sweet Sweet
07 Holes
08 Gold Star Swimmer
09 O Minoa!
10 Chinatown Bus
11 Bullhorn Romance
12 Sexual Frustration

PS Our immense thanks to Mint for sharing this awesomeness with us here at lil’ ol’ KMA, and kudos to you for bringing this excellent band to the attention of the world!

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