Labor Day has come and gone.
Although that ceremoniously signals the passing of summer, it is not over quite yet for students on the quarter system. And here in California, there’s no better way to celebrate the waning days of freedom than with some new music from the Tijuana Panthers.
Comprised of guitarist Chad “The Wiggly Man” Wachtel, drummer Phil “The Sippy Cup” Shaheen, and bassist Dan “Insert Silly Moniker” Michcoff, the Long Beach, CA trio has been cookin’ up catchy pop and energetic garage surf punk jams since their inception in 2008. Described more simply as “Barbershop Surfpop,” their music is some of my favorite stuff to play when working farmer’s markets or driving around SoCal on a sunny day. It’s perfect.
And with a name as original as theirs, how could you not be at least slightly intrigued to give them a quick listen?
“Phil’s neighbor Max Baker, who we named our first album after, has a pretty crazy story about Tijuana involving some shady characters and a knife fight. He came out alive with this porcelain panther. He later gave it to Phil. We love Mexico, Mexico surfing, Mexican culture, food, its influence on us and around us as Southern Californian kids. I guess you can say it’s a little nod of respect in that direction and a name we thought was cool.”
Witty and entertaining across their various social media pages (Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr) the group originally met at a church camp during their Jr. high days. Now in their thirties, Ghost Food is the second EP under their belt to go along with four enjoyable full-length records.
The six song, slightly under 20 minute EP is an excellent sampler of TJP’s various sounds. “Playing For The Old” is classic Tijuana Panthers, combining surfy rhythms with catchy vocals. “Mind How You Go” has a strong groove throughout and ends with a reading of a negative music review, presumably of one of their one songs? (I was out of the country for 3 weeks. I didn’t have time to look into this).
“Whatever That Girl Wants” is standard dreamy summertime beach pop which is followed by my favorite song on the release. “Quarter Roy” (I love me some songs titles that mess around with the English language) is a rapid surf punk jam laden with excellent bass lines. “Wasting Time” reverts back to the dreamy summertime beach pop sound before wrapping up with “I Took Her Phone Away.” This additional groove-heavy surf tune is overlayed with phone interview answers that discuss everything from spending time to one’s wife, to motorcycle rides, to fishing for crawdads. It’ll suck you in and spit you out. Confused, but happy. And that’s the spirit of summer.
“Our music isn’t that serious. All of the bands I looked up to growing up weren’t serious, either. They would have serious lyrics and silly music or serious music and silly lyrics. Music should be about having a good time.” – Phil Shaheen
Check them out for yourself below and enjoy what is left of the sun’s warm rays!