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Panda Bear
Panda Bear
[Soccer Star]
Rating: 6.5

I have this new idea for an invention and fashion trend. I call it the Chain Pocket Protecta. Chain wallets have saturated the useless pop accessory market to the point of ubiquity-- they make them in shades of sky blue for babies. Standing in the checkout line last week I saw an elderly women reel a chain wallet (it was a sparkly blue one and it had Taz on the front wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey and saying, "Back off from my stash, man! BLARG!") up out of the back of her dress to get out her wad of Meow Mix coupons. What I'm trying to say is the trend is dead. It's time for a new fad-- something that's not radical, something with familiar elements, a fusion of the commonplace to make fashion revolution-- the Chain Pocket Protecta.

The Chain Pocket Protecta is simply a pocket protector fixed to the end of a medium- weight chain, which can be then attached to the belt. In order to get a manufacturer and financial backers I need to test market the Chain Pocket Protecta. I need to find a place where rock- and- roll and dorkdom meet. I'm thinking Maryland. Maryland must have the highest geeks- per- capita index in the country. For proof, I offer you the bands Trans Am and Roads to Space Travel. Both use keyboards, Can-ish noodling, rock chops, and slight Devo tendencies. Well, add the lo-fi, bedroom, Nintendo post- emo of Panda Bear to the nerd pack.

Panda Bear is the perfect poster band for my Chain Pocket Protecta. They embody both the D.I.Y., house- show attending, emotion- shackled aesthetics of chain- wallet wearers and the lonely, technology- fascinated, hours- behind- the- computer, needs- a- date aesthetics of pocket protector wearers! They even have a Hello Kitty- meets- potato- stamp logo that would go perfect on the Chain Pocket Protectas for girls.

The record opens with a minimal blip- funk number that sounds like robots programmed to mimic the Sea and Cake. The next track develops the album's main musical theme of quiet keyboard loops, strumming acoustic guitar, sonic fiddling, and faint, rodent- heart drumbeats. The record's subtlety is captivating. It's not so show- offy as those lab- geeks from the Chicago post- rock scene. The squishy skitter of "Fire!" and the some of the grammatically enigmatic songtitles such as "Inside a Great Stadium and a Running Race," "A Musician and a Filmmaker," and "Sometimes When It Hurts Bad Enough It Feels Like This" could have come straight off a Tortoise record. But the difference between the two styles is like comparing an eager kid with a chemistry set to sleep- deficient Bio- Chem grad- students from Cal Tech. Who would you rather cuddle up with?

Warm, personal post- rock is something I recently thought impossible. Panda Bear approaches the genre like four- track folk, with an obvious background in the hardcore/ punk scene which at least gives them an idea of how to connect with an audience and bear some feelings. But sometimes, this background gets in way when the vocals enter. "On the farm" contains pinches of that "emotional" dueling, throwing- your- voice- out screaming that's best left behind walls of distorted guitar... or better yet, dead. Sometimes two styles of music don't need to be mated. Kind of like chain wallets and pocket protectors, you say? Fine, forget my idea, then.

-Brent DiCrescenzo

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