Endangered – Fierce Panda 2004 – 2014

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Endangered – Fierce Panda 2004 – 2014

Really, it’s a myth about Pandas. They aren’t in any way endangered as a species, as every zoo in China keeps breeding them, often sending the resultant offspring to live in other zoos around the world. Having said that, two decades ago things may have seemed a little less rosy, for pandas and everyone else, and perhaps a grimy cloud of impending career mortality hung over the 1994 meeting in a London pub that spawned the today very well established and internationally known record label Fierce Panda. Begun as a tongue in cheek riposte to the prevailing music trends of two decades ago, and as a platform for certain types of band whose music wasn’t then being heard quite as it should, Fierce Panda were somewhere in the vanguard of mid 90s Britpop and while Britpop itself is now a matter for bleary eyed nostalgists, the Fierce Panda label has not merely survived but has positively thrived. Well, what with the likes of Placebo, Ash, Keane and even Coldplay releasing music on the label that was launched as a bit of a joke by three NME writers in the mid 1990s, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Fierce Panda has continued to plow an innovative furrow across the music scenes it has nurtured and supported since its inception all those years and pints ago.

And if anyone had asked me about Fierce Panda last week, I would have shrugged, said ‘yes, I know of them’ and gone back to looking for obscure electronica to listen to. But then a press copy of Endangered arrived in my in box and, feeling mildly put out by my own only partly feigned ignorance, I realised that Fierce Panda has played a crucial role in much of my music reviewing over the last few years. For starters, Endangered has a track from the Spinto Band, “They All Laughed” from their 2009 Moonwink album, and I very much enjoyed reviewing that, blistering double timed frenetic MathRock experience that it was. Then there is Hatcham Social, whose albums I have reviewed not once but twice on this site, and who are represented here by “Sidewalk” from their 2010 full length debut release You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil – we’re practically neighbours, or so it seems. And there’s Seafood and Ultrasound, both of whom I saw on a Fierce Panda package tour show about 15 years ago, and that was such a good gig I can actually remember it.

So, you might get the idea that I was very pleased to find Endangered 2004-2014 sent to me for reviewing purposes, as it contains within its 18 tracks more blasts from my own musical past than I really expected and, while I’ve only so far referred to the bands included that I ever had some indirectly slight connection with, there are plenty of other Indie Pop gems stacked neatly throughout its 50 or so minutes, names and tunes that will perhaps mean as much to other music fans as the bands I’ve mentioned do to me, bands such as The Walkmen, I Like Trains, Denmark’s hippest musical export The Raveonettes, the mighty Art Brut, and one or two slightly more obscure (or just newer) bands such as The Crookes and Hey Sholay. And the very best part of all is that Endangered 2004-2014 won’t cost you anything, it is a gift available to anyone buying an album from the Fierce Panda website so for what are you waiting, indie music fan? Look up the Fierce Panda website, choose one or more new albums and get Endangered 2004-2014 absolutely free.

www.fiercepanda.co.uk