WTF?! Wednesdays: Deer Hoof, “Panda Panda Panda” (2003)

I have said (and defended) many times that I am not a lyrics person. Still, that doesn’t really excuse me for what I am about to admit: that I’d listened to Deerhoof’s album Apple O’ many times and never realized, until just the other day, that Satomi Matsuzaki was singing “Panda Panda Panda.” Yeah, I know that’s the song title. How did I miss that? Great question! I have no answer!!

Deerhoof is often described as a noise pop band, which I guess covers the bases. I just love how they take “regular” pop and rock song forms and smoosh them out of shape. Maybe those misshapen forms were what through me off?

I guess I kind of got caught up lopsided cadence and the herky-kerky guitar rhythms. Matsuzaki does have that endearing, schoolgirl vocal delivery. But it’s her adding space between the syllables that drew my ear away from the word’s meaning. It almost sounds like she’s putting the accent in the wrong place, but not quite. Anyway…Panda! What a revelation. This is almost as embarrassing as discovering — 20 years after purchasing the record — that the cover art of Frank Zappa’s Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch was a depiction of…uhm…a ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch. Duh.

The second vid is from their 2012 SXSW appearance. The live performance brings a whole lot more noise. Also, a lot more mayhem.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.