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Sonic Ear Grenade: Panther Style's ¡Emergencia!

Jul 19, 2011 • 1 comment • 3011 views
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In the introduction to H.P. Lovecraft’s essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” readers are told to understand that when Lovecraft calls something a “noxiously hideous fragment,” it is meant as high praise. It reminds me of the way early rock and roll was crowed at as explosive war-like clanging or primeval “caveman” thudding or hideous, satanic “jungle music.” This music was not made to appease the aural palette but to explode the mind. These days rock isn’t always met with the proper awed fear and gratuitous disgust that truly jarring noise deserves. A new U2 “rock” disc, for example, at high volume might incite a flash mob, but it won’t offend anyone’s pristine hot adult contemporary sensibilities.


Enter stage right Chicago band Panther Style’s full length ¡Emergencia!


Singer Jeanne McClure screaming/screeching the words “on fire” in the incendiary “Instrumental” (which is not as the name might imply) reminded me how much I want to hear that insidious edge of unadulterated noise creep back into the sonic pallet of straight ahead rock. Her psycho-sexual lyrics are delivered with a crisp vibrato-free post-Breeders wink to cynicism. She tells a potential mate that she “want[s] to scream your name but can’t find a reason.” Or what about in “Biggest Fan” where McClure sings “wake up to hear you crying when every morning breaks/ while I believe you’re trying/ you slap me in the face.”


This is rock that’s cooked up for no other reason than it’s an adrenaline rush to play, it’s a subconscious outlet, a firehose of human emotion, not crafted as a car commercial jingle. There’s a dash of something heady and pleasurably toxic in the over cranked bass drum, the juggy, dirty bass lines, and the punched up filthy guitar riffs that sound much more broken rattling solid state than creamy slide tube riffs oozed on by the ever lapping waves of indie-country bands.


My sister, God bless her, once told me that guitar solos shouldn’t last more than fifteen seconds because the only ones who want to hear it are people who are obsessed with guitars or people who have a crush on the guitar player. Since ¡Emergencia! is rife with guitar riffs and noisy leads, guess listeners who like to be assailed by the razor lines of these cuts will have to choose a camp. At this point, I have to elect the former. So, my perennial concern, this album included, is that I could almost always use a little more guitar in the mix. I think guitar is like garlic or hot sauce. Once you get a taste for it, you can’t really get enough. To remedy, I just turn it up.


If I had to guess just from the near minute long solo in “Biggest Fan” (its fuzzy, sinister lithe riffs) with sweaty, fair ground drums thudding behind it and the line finally emerging into the shell-shocked, bar fox vox, I’d have to say this is the kind of band whose groupie set probably looks good in torn jeans and would let Bono hit on them back stage then drain the beer cooler and peace out while he was prancing across the catwalk.


Listener’s note: The back end of the album pumps harder and harder, with McClure’s vox taking on a more aggressive and electric power. “Sex Panther” and “Don’t Say You Will” touch on a slightly cranked, bigger, bolder, unrelenting style that we may see fully unleashed in future releases.


This is not a CD you gift wrap for your dad for Christmas … unless your dad is pretty cool. To be fair, I could be underestimating dads everywhere. One Christmas, I gave my dad a copy of U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” which he abandoned on the kitchen counter a week later. Apparently it was too soft for him. I couldn’t disagree. “I thought,” he told me, “it would have more drums.”


¡Emergencia! has more drums guaranteed. This is rock that actually draws some blood. Check it out, turn it up, try and piss someone off.


Stream the album at bandcamp here.

Check out other rumblings from my ever clanking keyboard here.

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Another great review, Ted! Props on the Lovecraft reverence, and you're right about garlic, hot sauce and guitars. That said, in this clip at least, it sounds like you've got your guitar dosage covered and then some.
07.19.11 •
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