Monday 29 July 2013

Tijuana Panthers - Semi-Sweet

Album review by

California: it's seen as the home of manufactured human perfection. Boob jobs, face-lifts, body builders and fake tans. There's a certain irony that these ideals are so regularly ignored by the music scene from the Pacific coast. The new album by Long Beach trio Tijuana Panthers doesn't come with the musical equivalent of plastic surgery or showing off its six-pack while rollerblading through the streets; this is a modern garage-rock/indie album that's presented as it is: naturally, simply and probably laughing at the aging population around it as they spend thousands of dollars trying to artificially cling on to their youth. You perhaps couldn't call 'Semi-Sweet' a lo-fi album (except maybe for 'Sunday'), but it's shot through with the power of enthusiasm and good songs instead of nip, tuck and implants.

The great thing about Tijuana Panthers is that they know when enough is enough, and all but one song is under three-minutes in length. For comparisons you could look to Ty Segall, The Soft Pack and maybe even Allah-Las, they're all on the same wavelength, spurred on by a punk attitude and indie sensibilities. So we're rewarded with songs that are fuelled by melody and fervent guitars that are just messy enough but never come close to falling apart at the seams. With the likes of 'Tony's Song' we're looking at tracks that everyone's been hoping The Strokes will return to making for the past ten years. There have been bands making music with a similar aesthetic for decades, and you could take something like 'Father Figure' and slot it in just about anywhere, the ringing guitars sound timeless.

Elsewhere they touch upon the increasingly celebrated Nuggets series, with 'Wall Walker' and 'Forbidden Fruit' sounding as though they could be freakbeat 45s from 1967. They combine garage, punk and doo-wop on 'Boardwalk' which could be a reinterpretation of an original surf tune and 'One Way Ticket' also sounds like The Ramones covering a lost '60s classic. Never short of melodies to throw at these little balls of trebly fuzz, they reel off 'Push Over' and 'Juvy Jeans' which both contains that garage-punk spirit, and they bring this inspired sense of melody to another surf-influenced track, 'Baby I'm Bored'. 'Semi-Sweet' is a trip though the various forms of guitar-pop that have been capturing imaginations for half a century, and Tijuana Panthers seem to have a good understanding of all of them. As you hear the final clatter of 'Boardwalk (Reprise)' the only thing you can really say against this album is that it's short on originality, but that's hardly a good enough reason to avoid what it an exceptionally good set of songs.

Tijuana Panthers' website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

Aug 02 Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
Aug 23 Constellation Room, Santa Ana, CA

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