Ok, you already know I’m sort of a fiend when it comes to Panda Riot. I was pretty stoked for their “7 Serious Radical Girls release last year and with the launch of the band’s recent LP, Northern Automatic Music on Saint Marie Records (Feb. 19) Panda Riot dishes out doleful, joy-vomits. Now I know I’m no expert on shoegaze, but if you’re a fan of honed distortions, whispery chorals, bell chiming ethereal climbs and rock-manic beats then this is the band for you.
Northern Automatic Music drops out of the sky like a meteor over a Russian city, exacting missile projected enthusiasm, minor wounds and minuscule rooftop destruction. Speculations about the bands’ celestial origins are under investigation. UFO enthusiasts can keep guessing, but as far as I’ve heard, it’s more likely “Amanda in the Clouds” just decided to rain down above an unexpecting and all too confident humanity. While “Serious Radical Girls” remains one of the strongest songs on the album, it’s not until after the pausing keys on “Golden Age” that the album bursts into frenetic fragments, all equal parts divine. Just when you thought you might get lost in the grinding dissonance of the first half of the album, “Someday, Someone Will Wake You From This Nightmare” pulls the instrumental force of Panda Riot into gracious collision with greatness.
“Mtwn Glass” keeps the pace quite well, and “Black Pyramids” is sharp and bouncy. Both revving the interstellar engines up for the atom splicing hit “Good Night, Rich Kids,” the absolute best number on the entire album. “Good Night, Rich Kids” is destined to become my Chicago winter anthem. This song takes all the aforementioned qualities of Panda Riot and sets them on a three minute and forty five second automatic blender setting swirl. The puree of precise noise and melody makes for the best rock slushy ever. Northern Automatic Music is a cement mixture of jaded though nonetheless sparklingly emoted shards of philosophical quandary.
Panda Riot has put themselves on the top shelf with aged-classics and shoegaze-creators, My Bloody Valentine. Somewhere past the pop-formulas and all those overtly pretty and slick, universally palatable New York bands with good publicists and the most expensive broke hipster wardrobes ever, there still exists a need for relentless talent and hard hitting alternative rock that sounds like it’s still just alternative rock, prior to the sub genre’s marketable emergence. Rebecca’s vocals carry like an homage to Bilinda Butcher while the rest of the band sounds like the earlier (better) days of Vivian Girls and the delightfully heavier moments of The History of American Pie.
That said, make sure you catch Panda Riot’s release party this week at The Hideout, 2/22. Tickets are $8 and openers, Lightfoils and Bigcolour promise to rock the house as well. If that’s not enough, Panda Riot will also celebrate a flexi release through Notes and Bolts, on 2/24 at Saki Records. Performing with StarTropics for this midday set, you can fill up on Panda Riot for the rest of winter.