Sometime in 2011 the German label Red Lounge Records brought us the debut LP by La Panther Happens. To be perfectly honestly, this is my first introduction to the band and I hadn’t heard of this recording coming out so it was a welcome surprise when I opened up a package from Red Lounge and found this tucked away inside. It’s a pop project from Tulsa, but the band doesn’t really sound like their music is geographically rooted entirely in the South. To my ears it’s rustic West-Coast folk pop meets the Memphis organ pop sound. The band’s sound definitely harkens to past and present Memphis icons like Big Star, Reigning Sound, and The Barbaras/Magic Kids just to name a few. Right out the gate I can’t help but notice how much this band sounds like Kind Turkey alums The Pharmacy, especially on the stellar keyboard and harmony-laced “When I Wake Up”. The mix of the poppy guitar and drawly vocals is what really makes me think of The Pharmacy’s frontman, Scott Yoder’s loveable persona. There’s maybe even a bit of Bare Wires scuzz glam with a bit more gusto hidden in there…AND a bit of amazing oddball/kiddie charm ALA The Barbaras (particularly on “Blowing Out My Brains”). At times I even get hints of the sugar sweet organ pop of Ohio’s Wheels On Fire (also Kind Turkey alums) but this features even more cutesy naivety than WOF. The A-Side ends with a fast paced organ rager called “Alice” that reminds me A LOT of Sonic Chicken 4…which is great considering that band became way less active a few years ago and no one’s quite filled that niche just yet. Not to be mistaken, the band doesn’t just stick to mid-tempo pop rockers. They get a bit restless and a bit rockabilly on the excellent “Gimme Back”, somehow melding the Cramps with the Reigning Sound seamlessly. It’s probably the most coherent and best piece of songwriting on the record. At their best they sound like a less obscured and more focused version of the Fresh and Onlys (one of this author’s favorite bands). To top it all off the overall package is quite nice: Fourteen tracks housed in an elaborate gatefold with artwork by the incredible Lindsay Shutt!
Hear a tune from the LP here: