Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CD Review: Panda Riot - Far And Near/Link To The Undertones Review

Photo taken from Panda Riot Facebook page.

Note: this review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.

Panda Riot started as a Philadelphia-based duo comprised of vocalist-keyboards player Rebecca Scott and guitarist Brian Cook, backed by a drum machine. Scott and Cook relocated to Chicago, and for their second effort, they’ve fleshed out their ethereal shoegazer approach by adding the single-named Melissa and Justin on percussion and bass respectively. The six tracks on Far and Near drift overhead like clouds, with an occasional jolt of thunder and lighting.

Scott’s lavishly over-dubbed vocals are Panda Riot’s immediate selling point. She entices listeners on melodic songs like “Julie (In Time)” and “Motown Glass” that call to mind the dreamy singing of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. “When You Said, When I Said” throws rapid fire vocals into the mix while Cook’s frenetic strumming creates different textures and tempo changes. “16 Seconds,” which lasts quite a bit longer than that, offers an intriguing clash of airy vocals with a harder-edged arrangement set to a driving beat.


The Illinois Entertainer currently has an online-only review that I wrote about the new five-disc compilation by The Undertones that was recently released by Union Square. You can read it here.


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