Panthers Things Are Strange

Only two years ago, on their debut album Are You Down??, Brooklyn quintet Panthers unleashed a politically-charged punk rock agenda that left them somewhere between MC5 and Fugazi. Following last year’s excellent Let’s Get Serious EP, a much less belligerent batch of songs that captured the best qualities of the Jesus Lizard, the band signed to Vice and began a foray into the world of prog punk. Things Are Strange is a loud, expansive record of dense yet controlled rock’n’roll that isn’t afraid to take risks in order to prove they’re serious. The thrashing, free-jazz freak-out in the opening 30 seconds of "We Are Louder” is enough to convince any sceptic that the Panthers are for real. So when the song stretches out into an epic seven minutes of slow, building noise and guitar noodling with sudden bursts of feedback, droning sludge and a masterful solo, you suddenly realise that you are no longer in Kansas. Instead, you’ve just stepped in the court of the band’s crimson kingdom. Other seven-minute opuses like "Walk of Shame” and the closing "Weird Birds” are doused in the same "thick as a brick” formula of snail-paced beginnings and booming climaxes, making a routine out of it. However, as a whole, Things Are Strange is full of the psychedelic grunt and crashing commotion that leaves you devastated and staggering the way the recent Comets On Fire record did. (Vice)