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Hot Panda - How Come I'm Dead?

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 10 / 10 / 2010

Hot Panda - How Come I'm Dead?
Label: Mint Records
Format: CD


Chaotic and confusing second album from foul-mouthed, but versatile Canadian band, Hot Panda, which is spoilt by its own lack of restraint

For a four piece band Hot Panda seem to have a lot to offer musically beyond the expected vocals, drums, keyboard, guitar and bass. There is also accordion, cello and trumpet here, but I have also been primed from their press release to expect "dreamy noise, circus freak dance numbers, heartbreaking country ballads with screeching metal guitar solos, lovely pop harmonies, psychedelic drones and straight up pop/rock numbers." And wait because we aren't done yet! "There is even a grindy techno song and a hip hop track with includes a bass scratch solo and enough f-bombs to earn them an adult content warning sticker." Would that be 'Fuck Shit Up/Hell Hey Hex' perchance? Phew I think I might need some paracetamol before I even put this on! I am all for an eclectic mix, and the well placed use of the word fuck (F-bomb? Fuck that! Just give it to me straight!), but this is starting to sound just fucking confused! The opening track is dreamy alright, but Chris Connelly's vocals sound tuneless to the extent of being reminiscent of a bad 'X Factor' audition which is a shame because I like it musically. On the second track, 'Evil Nature', matters are somewhat improved by having bassist Catherine Hiltz and drummer Maghan Campbell on backing vocals. Now it is the guitars which sound occasionally discordant. 'Shoot Your Horse' is better still. It is what I imagine sort Belle & Nick Cave (who has has murdered Sebastian) would sound like. It remains coherent. Likewise Connelly's shouty, sweary style does work on 'Fuck Shit Up/Hell Hey Hex' and it roles along merry in a stream of its own filth. You just know 15 year olds the world over will love this song because it is just so fucking sick and shit.(But remember, kids, swearing isn't really that cool..... insulting people with long words they don't understand is far more satisfying). The overwhelming impression I am left with is that about a million ideas were thrown in a blender and this is the result. Many great albums have been born of a similar process but they have been more stringently distilled and clarified before being committed to CD. Too often a track starts promisingly enough before sort of imploding into uneven tempo and mixing that leave your ears buzzing in a not too pleasant manner. This album was recorded in less than a week mostly live and it shows. A little more restraint and polish would have made a lot of difference I suspect. It is patchy, but it isn't pedestrian and shows the odd glimmer of a diamond in the rough.

Track Listing:-
1 Membership Fees (Intro)
2 Evil Nature
3 Pools
4 Shoot Your Horse
5 Fuck Shit Up/Hell Hey Hex
6 Start Making Sense
7 Poor Little Ambulance
8 Clever Fox
9 Mindlessnesslessness
10 1995
11 Masculinity
12 The Ghost
13 Late Night Calling (Outro)

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