While the first movement of the “scene that celebrated itself” originated in southern England, the second movement seems to be coming from Chicago, and dream pop juggernaut Panda Riot is one of the best of the crop.
Panda Riot’s origins came about in Philadelphia between Brian Cook, Rebecca Scott, and their buddy the drum machine after working on a short film. The scenes of underwater travels and airborne plans begot the blessed-out wall of sound sing-alongs that became Panda Riot. Justin and Melissa were picked up when they relocated to Chicago to round out the collective.
Panda Riot stays true to cannon, taking cues from their forefathers The Swirlies, Helium, and Velocity Girl. However, Panda Riot’s devastating noise is cut with silky and sunny anthems, replete with instantly hummable melodies. The group not only displays an affable approach to music, they also show humor whenever possible – and their cover of MIA’s “Paper Planes” became one of Hype Machine’s most popular tracks of 2008.
The group’s engaging, audio-visual-sensory overload live show has put them in front of the likes of School of Seven Bells, Twin Tigers, and Akron/Family, a WOXY Lounge session in August of 2009, as well as got R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe to grip two of their CDs (have the group tell you the story sometime) when they played Athens’ Popfest.
This year (May 11th, 2010) sees Panda Riot unleashing a new EP Far & Near – a mature and sonically diverse collection of songs, ranging from the massive blast of reverberated guitars on “Streetlights and You and Me,” to the gentle and whimsical “Parallax View” (an ambient instrumental that will thrill fans of Mum before they jumped the shark).
Recommended if you like: Lush, Blonde Redhead, Asobi Seksu, My Bloody Valentine