Looking for the next “hot” band? There’s already Hot Hot Heat and Hot Chip. Now welcome Hot Panda. They come from chilly Edmonton, Alberta, although the band’s co-founders Chris Connelly and Maghan Campbell apparently drew musical inspiration from their time living in Oslo, Norway.
So, what’s the sound? It’s a giddy, rapid-fire pop-rock. A bit New-Wave-y, but they aren’t afraid to bash away at their guitars either. Nor are they afraid pick up an accordion, glockenspiel or kazoo. It’s the type of dial-a-style, ADD rock that their western neighbors in the Vancouver scene (think the New Pornographers) dish up. But also add in a dose of the cheeky, chant-y UK punk-pop of groups like Los Campesinos and Johnny Foreigner, and you get a sense of where Hot Panda is coming from.
Their thoroughly delightful debut disc Volcano…Bloody Volcano came out in February on Mint (home to other off-kilter Canadian banks like The Buttless Chaps, Immaculate Machine and Young & Sexy). It’s a disc that I’ve returned to frequently over the last couple months. Volcano’s a zippy joyride through Connelly’s odd tales navigated through the twisty, bouncy melodies. Kooky, catchy tracks like “Cold Hands/Chapped Lips,” “It’s Worth Eight Dollars,” “Afraid of the Weather” and “Whale Headed Girl” all stick in the synapses.
I went to see them at their L.A. debut at the Mint on March 25, and they were just as winning live - full of goofy humor, joyous playing and herky-jerky rhythms. Singer Connelly might be a bit of an acquired taste with his slightly theatrical, sometimes-yippy-sometimes-adenoidal croon, but he never tries to be too serious which makes him more endearing than annoying.
Their spirited, crazy-quilted pop-rock sound makes them a band to keep an eye on.