PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Hot Panda: Go Outside

Photo: Robert Fougere

A charming DIY blend of rock, pop, indie, and punk.

Hot Panda

Go Outside

Label: Mint
US Release Date: 2012-07-17
UK Release Date: 2012-08-20

Vancouver’s pop/rock (with touches of electronica) quartet Hot Panda prides itself on its ability to blend genres with humour and free spirit. On their third LP, Go Outside, they ensure that each moment is filled with tons of energy and appealing sounds, as well as a refreshing coating of punk attitude. The presentation is more enjoyable than the actual songwriting, but it’s a very fun record nonetheless.

Admittedly, Go Outside tackles more serious issues (namely, “cynicism, depression, and close-mindedness”) than the group’s previous two efforts. Songwriter Chris Connelly describes the record as having a socio-political theme, which includes “with us or against us” mentalities, our failing economy, and being left behind by your people. Fortunately, the band still implements plenty of optimism and light-hearted spirit. With touches of Mew, At the Drive-In, Loud Family, and Aficionado interwoven throughout, Go Outside seems to tackle complex ideas in a naturally accessible way.

Opener “One in the Hand, One in the Chest” feels like a mix of T. Rex and Sonic Youth; Connelly’s rough, prepubescent anarchism is complemented by female vocal accompaniment, distorted guitars, and dirty rhythms. It’s like a better produced take on the Sex Pistols or the New York Dolls. By contrast, “Language” is much more melodic and poppy (due, in large part, to its accordion and horns, as well as its slower tempo). There’s also an abundance of interesting timbres and ideas, recalling the earliest No Doubt material.

“Littered Coins” begins with just an acoustic guitar and Connelly’s singing, but soon the other elements come in. In terms of songwriting, it’s a highlight. Elsewhere, “Maybe Now?” has a bit of a surf pop vibe, and the arpeggiated guitar work, coupled with the chord progressions and intriguing percussion, makes it feel very hopeful. “Holidays” triumphs due to its declarative horns, affective melodies, and waltz rhythm. It’s a reflective piece that would fit perfectly for the concluding moments of a Wes Anderson film.

The dynamics and collaged arrangement of “Winter Song” is fantastic; its fragments fit together perfectly, and there’s a level of delicately delivered emotion that gives it a lot of longevity (so it stays with you for a while). Seeing as Go Outside is all about shifting moods, it makes sense that the title track is an invigorating and playful song; in a way, it’s the warm summer after the cold winter. Bassist Catherine Hiltz once again provides childlike charm with her voice, and she continues the pattern on the hectic, Devo-esque “See You All Around”. Finally, “Boats” sees Connelly almost emulating exactly the raw rebellion of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and album closer “Negative Thinking Patterns” is a relatively dissonant and dirty slice of punky thrash.

Go Outside is definitely an enthralling and sufficiently unique record. The group tackles not-so-happy topics with endearing energy and sustained focus, and overall, it’s a surprisingly diverse record (more so in terms of tone than actual approach). It’s a nice mixture of elements and styles that any fan of punk or quirky pop will surely enjoy.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.