Tijuana Panthers Break Down Their Surfy New LP “Carpet Denim” Track by Track

The rockers cite Murakami, can-I-speak-to-your-manager people, and a newborn son as influences.
Track by Track
Tijuana Panthers Break Down Their Surfy New LP “Carpet Denim” Track by Track

The rockers cite Murakami, can-I-speak-to-your-manager people, and a newborn son as influences.

Words: Mike LeSuer

photo courtesy of Innovative Leisure Records

July 12, 2019

SoCal garage rock is alive and well in 2019; between the long awaited return of FIDLAR in January, the continued prolificacy of Dwyer and Segall, and the burgeoning Growlers-curated Beach Goth, the scene still has plenty going for it a decade since its revival. 

Adding to the legacy is Long Beach’s Tijuana Panthers, who, like FIDLAR, have released their first album in five years. A lot has happened to the Panthers since their surf rock opus hit shores in 2015—not least of which was the birth of drummer Phil Shaheen’s son, Levi—and Carpet Denim addresses much of the significant life events of this interim period. That said, the record is also called “Carpet Denim,” cluing you in to the fact that the band’s sense of humor is still very much in tact.

Carpet Denim is the working mans ‘carpe diem,’” the band explains of the title. “You get it done after work and on the weekends. Inspiration is overrated and usually doesn’t produce interesting results—that goes for most of the arts, especially music. Just keep plugging along, the ideas are always there, just need to make time to take time to lay them down. So put down the box, look around and take it all in…it’s all carpet, it’s all denim.”

The music on Carpet, it should be noted, reflects the group’s maturity—though “I Don’t Mind” mirrors the acid-soaked vibes of King of the Beach, it’s anchored with a “Bloodbuzz Ohio” drumbeat. Moments later, “Generation Singular” hints at a newfound interest in new wave, an icy category of music generally at odds with the sunny guitars of Long Beach’s garage rock scene.

The most touching of Carpet’s fourteen burners is “Little Pamplemousse,” an ode to the aforementioned newborn Shaheen (*whispers to date* “that’s the Little Pamplemousse”). Along with an overview of the story behind each track, the band is also sharing a cartoonish new video for the track seemingly inspired by a hellish run in with a demanding industry figure. See both below.

Carpet Denim is out today via Innovative Leisure. You can order it here.

1. “Path of Totality”

I have written several songs in the past about choosing a path in life, but this one touches on addiction and sobriety. For some of us it’s all or nothing—we can choose to walk in the light or total darkness. This one goes out to my friends and family.

2. “First Date”

I met my now-fiancée at Mr. T’s Bowl [in Highland Park] about 15 years ago. It was a dive punk venue then. We reconnected again ten years later. We went to karaoke in a Little Tokyo mall in LA where I invited some random women we met to come sing with us. It was our first date.

3. “710”

An ode to growing up in Long Beach in the ’80s and ’90s.

4. “Little Pamplemousse”

“Little Pamplemousse” is a nickname I gave my son Levi. I thought he looked like a little grapefruit with his red hair and peach skin tone. The name stuck, and everyone now calls him Lil Pamp. The song is about having my first child—it hints at some of the mundane and wild that goes down day to day. The outro guitar solo is the sound of me trying to keep up with my son, who is determined to go three different directions at once.

5. “Owl Eyes”

Can-I-speak-to-your-manager people. How they tend to take their anger out on people who aren’t paid enough and don’t deserve angry owl eyes.

6. “End of My Rope”

I came to discover that a woman who I loved and deeply cared about had a dark secret that she could no longer hide. She turned to alcohol to deal with pain from the past and this song is about feeling hopeless and asking God to bring healing to her.

7. “Garbage Person”

Intuition and self-reflection has led me to some healthy conclusions that in order to grow, I need to change some toxic behavior and patterns. Some people refuse to look within and avoid empathy—and they are garbage.

8. “I Don’t Mind”

End of an era. Some things never change. There is peace in letting something end.

9. “Generation Singular”

I wrote a paper in one of my master’s classes about Information Communication Technology (ICT) and its effects on young adults. While collecting data and researching previous studies there was a lot of eye-opening information on the negative effects of excessive usage of ICT on emotional, physical, and overall mental health. I also found a recent article on the first microchip that can and will be implanted into a human brain that will navigate the internet internally. This song is about all that and where we might be headed, ready or not.

10. “TV People”

A wish for a Haruki Murakami story to be made into a David Lynch film. I read a short story by Murakami that gave me a visceral feeling of despair. It reminded me of some depressing times in a crappy Long Beach apartment where I drank too much and felt my only friends were the characters on the screen.

11. “Different Side of Town”

Hangin’ out with a girl and second guessing because of trivial differences, then letting go, having a good time and realizing I need to just cruise with it because those hang ups I had went out the window.

12. “You Died”

I lost my father when I was nine years old. He suffered a heart attack in his sleep. He died at the age of forty-three. As I get closer to his final age, I can’t help but feel anxious about my own mortality. “Do I have the same heart you had?”

13. “Rat Tail”

About my old neighbors and their children who seemed to have all the freedom in the world. They lacked wealth, but found a paradise in their backyard. I felt for them because what’s permissible in youth isn’t given much grace in the real world. We all knew that kid who seemed to control the neighborhood. The Samsonesque power of the rat tail must have given them strength, and I hope it serves them well in the future.

14. “Friday Night Baby”

A collection of random thoughts…being thankful for mom and dad, thankful for my girl, the poison that anger can be to the soul…