Tijuana Panthers

Semi-Sweet

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Blasting off the coast of Long Beach like a hurricane, Tijuana Panthers filter early Beach Boys surf rock and Buddy Holly melodies through Gories-styled garage rock instrumentation to make a good, fun time out of punk rock revival. While fully rollicking and sung with a wink, there is nothing snide or sinister about the trio's music. It's simple lo-fi rock & roll, powered by the excitement of young blood, with guitars that sound like they are played cleanly through a battered amp's spring reverb, rather than overdriven by pedals. On Tijuana Panthers' sophomore outing, Semi Sweet, the recording sounds poorly miked and loud and the playing is purposely ramshackle, but lyrically and thematically, these songs could have been written by the bands in their parents' record collections. Lines like "We could go to the mall, we could go to the park/But I really have to be home right after dark," from the sweet, unrefined "Sunday," the overwhelmingly shy "Will you make the first move/I'm so nervous I can't move" from the Drifters' doo wop-styled "Boardwalk," and "Me, mom, and dad, playin' with my sis" from the jangling "Baby I'm Bored" are filled with wholesome '50s sentiments, even if they tend to get shouted a little bit louder than the sock-hop tunes they were patterned after. Guitarist Chad Wachtel, bassist Daniel Michicoff, and drummer Phil Shaheen all take turns on lead vocals, giving the album a varied feel from song to song, but the trio's chemistry and ability to craft the perfect singalong hook hold it all together and keep the entertainment value high, despite the low production value.

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