There’s emo, and then there’s authentic emotion. Few rock groups nail the sheer power of palpable, heart-wrenching feelings better than Seattle-based group Panda & Angel and its lead singer/songwriter Carrie Murphy. With the help of Josh Wackerley (lead guitarist/producer), Zaun Zehner (drums), Laura Enderle (bass) and Kara Kikucki (keyboards/electronics), this all-too-brief debut EP on Jade Tree exposes more variety than most group’s are able to muster throughout a formidable career.
The first three tracks offer a varied attack that implements subtle beauty and shimmering builds (“Mexico”), aggressive fervor and raw density (highlight “Dangerous”), alongside sparse acoustic loneliness (“China”). Murphy’s stark lyrics shine bright on “Ohio December 24th,” a gripping narrative based around Christmas Eve that touches on family suicide and bluntly personal confessionals (“Before the pills, I loved you more” strikes a particular chord).
Once you think you have Panda & Angel pinned down, the five-piece bursts out with the twangy stomp of “Following the Death of Her.” The EP fittingly concludes with the soft/loud juxtaposition of “A Thousand Whispers,” which showcases Murphy’s diverse heart-on-sleeve delivery. Recalling a plethora of acts such as Cat Power, My Bloody Valentine, Calexico, Breeders, and Low over six tracks and twenty-four minutes, Panda & Angel’s debut EP may have renewed my faith in emotional, guitar-driven rock music.
“Dangerous” MP3: http://www.jadetree.com/mp3/PandaAndAngel-Dangerous.mp3