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Music Review: Panther Style – ¡Emergencia!

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Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Panther Style takes their rock and roll very, very seriously. Their debut full length, ¡Emergencia!, is a blast of old-school alternative rock, heavy on the guitar and light on the bullshit. With lead vocals from Jeanne McClure (who also plays bass) and support from Melissa Koehl (guitar/vocals), Al Rodis (lead guitar), and Dan Lutger (drums), Panther Style mauls its way through 10 working-class rock tunes.

With other musical styles tied up in electro-pop and fuzzy effects, it’s nice to see a straightforward vibe treated with respect. Panther Style takes cues from The Posies, The Cult, Big Star, and more. The band members have sharpened their claws in the Chi-town scene, having gunned for groups like Mary Tyler Morphine, Siderunners, Reptoids, and Dyslexic Apaches.

Demanding to be cranked up loud, ¡Emergencia! opens with “Seeing…Just Not Believing.” Charged guitar pulls into the station and McClure’s vocals come in flying. The vibe through this track, and indeed many others, is that of a guitar-driven Ladytron. McClure is comparable to Helen Marnie in many ways, from the lingering tones to the unusually pure phrasing.

The cheekily-named “The Instrumental” releases some serious heat. Built on climbing guitar, the song lets McClure try out some screaming. The howl fits, trust me on that.

“Biggest Fan” is probably my personal favourite. The cut is honest garage awesomeness, with McClure playing the part of a hair-raising stalker–I think. Her bass comes through crisp in the mix too, adding what amounts to a nice touch of funk. Rodis takes off with another sweltering guitar solo.

There’s a good mix of tone to be heard as well, as tracks like “Sex Panther” draw out a grittier sound. The distorted guitars and consistent drums take hold, forming a buzz of sound that sinks in hard.

Recorded at B-Side Audio in Chicago on a 16-track analog tape machine, this album really does have the vibe of blood, sweat and tears coursing through every deliberate track. This is a band clearly unafraid of a little work, and ¡Emergencia! demonstrates their commitment to rock and roll with fierce energy and a little old-fashioned fun.

Panther Style’s ¡Emergencia! is a good rock record, that’s for sure. An album that comes with its heart on its sleeve from the opening moments, this is music that never apologizes and never takes its finger off the trigger.

About Jordan Richardson