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Album review: HOT PANDA “Go Outside”


Sprung forth from the cold streets of Edmonton, Alberta, HOT PANDA is turning up the indie heat with the release of their brand-spankin’ new album, Go Outside. The four-piece band, comprised of Maghan Campbell, Chris Connelly, Catherine Hiltz, and Heath Parsons, has been signed with Mint Records since 2008, and follows up on their critically acclaimed How Come I’m Dead? (2010) and Volcano…Bloody Volcano (2009). It’s punchy. It’s cool. It’s got sepia and neon tones sprinkled all over.

Go Outside opens with the staccato kick starter, ‘One In The Head, One In The Chest’ that showcases frontman Chris Connelly’s heady vocals.  The distinct dialogue quality to his sound calls comparisons to Hot Hot Heat vocalist Steve Bays, despite Connelly’s slightly more organic tone. Accentuated by some serious electric guitar, sassy female backups, and a killer drumbeat, ‘One In The Head, One In The Chest’ is striking and catchy; traits that are consistent throughout title track ‘Go Outside’ and ‘Negative Thinking Patterns’.

Other tunes like ‘Littered Coins’ offer softer strings and easier tempos, and I found my inner acoustic obsession yearning for more – if not to add more levels to the album, then simply because HOT PANDA knows how to get ‘em right. While this album definitely impresses, one shortcoming falls in the songs that occasionally get lost and forgotten in each other. While Connelly’s voice is distinguishing, similar sounding beats and harmonies don’t give the band enough credit as their innovative, stand alone tracks.

As alumnus of the SxSW festival, CMJ Music Marathon, and Toronto’s very own NxNE festival, HOT PANDA continues to prove the awesome effects of hard work, determination, and multiple burnt out tour vans. Having recently wrapped up a European tour with The Von Bondies, these rocking Canadian kids have bright, shiny things on the horizon to be sure. I’ll be sure to check them out next time they’re in town.

Purchase Go Outside on Mint Records.

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