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Secret Lawns

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Album Review

Panther aka Charlie Salas-Humara is already a big noise in some circles, though his blend of post-Prince falsetto and crunchy lo-fi beats isn't as revolutionary as some of the reports would have it (to be fair, a lot of the talk seems to center around his apparently entertaining-as-hell live shows). Taken on its own merits, Secret Lawns, Panther's half-hour full-length debut, is enjoyable and catchy rather than life-changing; if nothing else Salas-Humara isn't afraid of a hook or a direct lyric, thus the instant catchiness of a song like "How Does It Feel?" There's also a definite Mike Patton jones at points in his voice, which is perfectly appropriate to moments like the crabbed funk of "Take Us Out." Meantime, the songs don't lock down to any one particular era in terms of general inspiration — something like "How Well Can You Swim?" could have emerged from early-'80s NYC thanks to the percussion breaks, while the breakdown on "Telephone Wire" suggests (perhaps appropriately) the Butthole Surfers' dance-of-sorts side project the Jack Officers. If anything, the subtextual argument of Secret Lawns seems to be a technical one — namely, that in an era of ever-increasing sonic possibilities for home recording, there's something to be said for an approach that's intentionally rough and cheap-sounding. It works well enough for now, at least, and on the concluding "Tigers Touch" Panther comes up with the best '70s-into-'80s anthem this side of Andrew W.K. and the Electric Six. Best song title: "Your Pants Are Creased Familiarly."


Born: Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Portland, Oregon's Charlie Salas-Humara is essentially the one-man band Panther, who has toured with the Gossip and Ratatat. Known for his unusual chaotic dancing, his eccentric noodlings involve a melting pot of funk, disco, soul, and electro. Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, he moved to Portland in 1995 with his band the Planet The, who stayed together for a decade. At a solo performance night where people from different bands played acoustic, Salas-Humara sabotaged the night with drum machines....
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Secret Lawns, Panther
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