ARTIST: Death Panthers
RELEASE DATE: March 2016
COUNTRY: South Africa
CITY: Cape Town
GENRE Surfer Punk Rock
Oliver Thomas – Drums, Vocals
James Nevin – Guitar

Do you know what I love? I love it when someone hands me something to listen to and the music not only takes me to a different place, but a different time altogether. Before I even begin to speak about the ins and outs of the music, let me tell you where it takes me. Do the names Tony Alva, Stacey Peralta and Jay Adams mean anything to you? If they do then you will know that they were a part of the original Zephyr skateboarding team founded in mid 70s California. The Lords of Dogtown. Now picture yourself shirtless and sun-kissed, hair untamed and styled by nothing but the ocean water and sunshine, running around breaking into the backyards of your neighbours looking for empty swimming pools for you and your friends to skate in. I’m not talking about Avril F@#$ing Lavigne here, people… I’m talking the real deal- those dirty, nasty, salty misfits who started it all. Now what music would be the soundtrack to all of that? Death Panthers and their EP ‘No Teeth in Pizza’. That’s as plainly as I could possibly put it, folks (although I have a real urge to call you ‘Bro’).

I’m puzzled as to how on earth this two piece band from Cape Town managed to capture so exactly this time period and culture that happened so long before they were ever even born… in a place so very far from where they call home. If ever I get to meet them these questions will definitely be asked, because I find myself wondering if they are even aware of exactly what they’ve done here or if it’s purely by accident. Because that’s the beauty of punk isn’t it? Organised chaos.

Okay so let’s talk about the EP. I mentioned before that Death Panthers are only two blokes – Oliver Thomas on drums and vocals (dude even looks a bit like Alva) and then we have James Nevin on the guitar. Oliver delivers a vocal style that one would expect from the genre, but what I really appreciate about it is that it’s controlled and not overpowering. See what happened with punk music after the 70s and mid 80s is that the vocalists generally just want to yell over all the music, melody be damned. However Oliver actually seems to hold back to allow that space for the listener to hear the music (I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that the dude is on drums as well? I don’t know… perhaps if he had only a mic to deal with I’d be singing a different tune right now). Nevertheless, it’s pleasant to the ear and natural sounding (which is refreshing, so many vocalists try to force themselves to sound a certain way) and is filled with lyrical content that’ll make you feel like a playful menace to society.

James plays his guitar ‘like he’s riding a wave’. Distortion aside, the riffs flow into melodies that sort of make you feel like you’re either floating on the water like in my favourite track ‘Fuzz’ or jumping fences and running from the cops as demonstrated in ‘Pizza’. Okay now about all this distortion. Whether it was a case of recording this EP in a garage with nothing but a Unidyne Microphone and a toaster or if all this was part of the plan to sound as vintage punk as possible, it works. Personally I don’t want to hear their music recorded any other way. It just adds to the way I feel when listening to it. That’s what I love about this EP – every song plays a scene out in your head, it really puts you there. It might not be the same as what I’m personally seeing, but trust me… you will see something.


Reviewed by: Niki van den Heever (more from Niki)

Date: 24 March 2016

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