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How Come I'm Dead?
Edmonton's Hot Panda recorded their sophomore album, How Come I'm Dead? in less than a week during the midst of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic chaos, mostly live off the floor with few takes and overdubs, care of John Collins and David Carswell at JC/DC Studios. The band wanted it to sound alive, spontaneous, lo-fi, and playful, in line with the vibrant quirkiness of similar records by Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, and The Flaming Lips. There are also lots of different 'slapped together' tidbits and half-songs, so it should not sound overproduced or over-rehearsed. You can tell the band just had fun writing these tunes, and that's the most honest thing about it.
On How Come I'm Dead?, you'll find dreamy noise, circus freak dance numbers, heartbreaking country ballads with screeching metal guitar solos, lovely pop harmonies, psychadelic drones, and straight up pop/rock numbers. There is even a grindy techno song and a hip-hop track, which includes a bass scratch solo and enough f-bombs to earn them an adult content warning sticker.
The album title came from an obscure book found in a thrift store while touring. With Chris Connelly reflecting on the isolation of long distance relationships and life on the road, the album expresses the loss of the sense of having a home, made extra-weird with things like Facebook that constantly remind you of all the things you're missing in all the places you're not. It feels a bit like being a ghost, being able to see and hear people you love carrying on with their lives and not being able to partake in it. Yet, there is a sense of lightheartedness throughout the record, with enough common threads that the Hot Panda-ness still shines bright.