Æ: Aglet Eaters

St. Marie Records Rampage: Panda Riot

Posted in Feature by R on May 16, 2012

St. Marie Records have been lapping at the Fountain of Eternal Shoegaze for some time now and in the process managed to pick up some of the most – at the risk of sounding Hipster Runoff-y – relevant – bands around. One of those bands is Panda Riot.

It’s presumptuous of me, but since I’ve admired Panda Riot from afar, I was apologetically surprised to learn that they had signed on to SMR. I wanted to know how this had happened, so I did what any Normal Person would do when they want something – I asked. I got a response immediately and it turns out Wyatt, too, is a Normal Person. He wanted to sign Panda Riot on to his label, so he asked them.

You know – this is a life lesson I wish they’d taught me when I was still in school.

I believe the Serious Radical Girls EP is their first release on SMR. I’m having a ball listening to it. There’s only that much to say about it since it’s two and a half songs, so I have to play it on repeat but it’s a small price to pay.

I like how Panda Riot appeal to a conventionalist like me. I like how refreshing their sound is. Not refreshing like ‘oh here are some people doing this new unique thing no one has ever done before!’ I mean refreshing as in invigorating. At the same time the EP is also impossibly calming. Not Slowdive/Fauns/Tears Run Rings style calming – the noise-fragility balance is tilted too much in favour of noise to qualify. Calming, as in you don’t need to concentrate to listen to it. The complexities in the compositions are all intricacies you cannot and are not expected to pay attention to. I hear a bit of Ringo Deathstarr in the title track – contrary to popular belief this does not necessarily imply I hear My Bloody Valentine. In any case, the Imagine Hearts Ringo Deathstarr is nothing like the Sparkler Ringo Deathstarr and it’s the Imagine Hearts RD I hear. It’s the same delicate-but-firm female vox set against a backdrop of noise, but here the noise is less scrapey.

I wonder how many people reading this would imagine  ‘scrapey’ are negative adjectives to use when talking about curtains of sound in shoegaze…

It’s a funny, mathematical kind of EP. The title track you have to bounce about to a bit – it’s undeniably a mover. The next – and if you don’t have the SPC ECO bonus mix, last – track is inexplicably called ‘Golden Age Precursor’. I am all like ‘wtf is this precursing if it’s the last track, this band doesn’t make any sense…’ and then I find myself flat on my back on the Persian carpet and I’m wondering how I got there and why are all these stars around me.

The SPC ECO mix of ‘Serious Radical Girls’ is the sum of the first two. Do you want to dance to it? You can! Do you want to lie on your back and look at the stars in the sky or in your head? You can! Choices, choices, everywhere, and the entire EP only has three tracks on it!

The more I listen to Serious Radical Girls the more I feel like I must tell you to AT LEAST listen to it. I understand why, in these difficult economic times, you might be reluctant to buy it (but look! vinyl!), so if, based on what I say, you decide to give it 15 minutes of your time, I can say I have succeeded, and so have they.

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