Panama Kings
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Panama Kings

Belfast, N Ireland, United Kingdom

Belfast, N Ireland, United Kingdom
Band Alternative EDM

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Every so often a new band comes along that creates a bit of a buzz on the music scene. Right now, the Belfast-based Panama Kings are winning over audiences and garnering favourable reviews with their fresh new sounds and live performances.... the four-piece have been compared to the likes of the Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses and Superchunk. Radio One DJs Huw Stephens and Rory McConnell have been championing the band, but their inclusion on the Fate 08 album is set to give them more mainstream exposure. The band are the first of 8 unsigned bands to perform a track for the album. Proceeds go to the upkeep of the Oh Yeah centre in Belfast - Belfast Telegraph


"Impressively for the first of three bands, the Belfast-based Panama Kings have the entire room's attention from the get-go. Not bad going, considering how early they are on stage. There's an insouciance about the band that might turn some people off, but Niall Kennedy's prickly onstage demeanour is a tight fit for the songs: jerky and restless but laden with hooks. Niall's Isaac Brock-esque howl is impossible to ignore and adds to the Modest Mouse comparisons, but this is no tribute act. Buzzing synth basslines, thumping drumming and even a little fairground organ mark Panama Kings out as a little bit special. This is the best, most confident performance AU has seen from them, and the closing 'Your Children Are Screaming' already sounds like a classic. - AU Magazine


"The headliners, aptly named the kings, stormed in playing killer tracks 'Golden Recruit', to 'I Don't Wanna Die'. Each member performing in a musically driven haze, which the crowd couldn't get enough of. Front man Niall Kennedy's voice bounced off the crowd and he reflected the real sense of camaraderie that reigned throughout the night between bands, saying he was humbled to be playing after his heroes Ed Zealous. The foursome went out on 'Your Children Are Screaming' with the drummer diving into the audience and Niall kindly extending an invitation to everyone in the audience to come to their place afterwards. Yes they are living the dream." - BBC Across The Line


"How mad is this? The band is barely a year old, they've not put out a record and they've only played Belfast a few times. But there's already a fierce connection between the Panama Kings and their subjects. Happy voices in the crowd are picking up the chorus lines and letting them tumble through the night. Dozens of cameras are popping and there are audible gasps as the rhythms change and the intensity rises.

Maybe there's an extra expectation at this time of year. We're looking for hope and deliverance, so you might argue that the Kings' reputation is overcooked. But honestly, we're trying to filter that into the experience. And still we're in raptures.

Panama Kings are essentially a rock combo with Cuban heel boots, untamed hair and guitars that roar. But there's a complexity in the music that's sometimes psychedelic, sometimes even techno. The songs are full of detail and the electro-romp of 'I Don't Want To Die' is especially fine. As we've said before, singer Niall sounds anxious and perturbed, like he's part of some cruel experiment.

On the Strokes-like 'Golden Recruit', he bawls, "We can't be trusted to lead the crusade". Or was that "can be trusted"? Either way, you get the feeling that they won't easily be signed to a bogus campaign. They give off a proper feeling of savvy and solidarity. You believe them, essentially.

By the end, people are so into the plan that there's not even any need to introduce the tunes and so 'Your Children Are Screaming' arrives without ceremony. The guitars lines bite, Niall shudders and sounds disgusted, turning his emotions into a defiant outpouring. Good work, the Kings. " - Stuart Bailie BBC


"A bit of a Frankenstein's monster of the local scene - Panama Kings should become rock royalty soon enough. Their jerky dance rock rhythms should float the collective boats of Gang of Four fans and they have a huge cross-over appeal." - AU Magazine


"Panama Kings have made an impressive impact on the NI music scene in double quick time... Onstage they have swagger and edge, coming across like an outfit who mean business rather than a collection of faux indie hipsters. There are a number of stand out tracks, with 'Your Children Are Screaming' already so seared into a section of the crowds consciousness they supply their own backing vocal to accompany the melody. It's an all round convincing performance that justifies the buzz they've been building." - Jonny Tiernan, AU Magazine


Am I the only one that has noticed the return of the moustache? Like tuberculosis and Paris Hilton, the nose neighbour just won't go away. I imagine a little research can link its rekindled popularity to the independent rock music scene of the past 10 years. Luckily for music devotees like us, whilst the Panama Kings are able to intrigue us with a furry lipped lead singer, you'll be glad you stuck around for the music.

The Belfast boys' first song started off with a near silent bass guitar, but apparently they were reading my notes over my shoulder, and after their first tune asked the sound technician to turn up the volume on that very instrument. The sound was much improved. After three songs, birthday boy of the night Luke picked up the bass - that he plays well below his waist just like Suzi Quatro - and sent subsonic waves into the crowd. This band musters poppy, upbeat, fun music that's not too serious, but seriously rocks. Vocals like Hot Hot Heat, riffs reminiscent of The Flaming Lips, and the ba ba, ba-da-da's that pump hot blood from your heart straight to your dancing feet. "The Night's Already on Fire" was a nice rendition and the band confess that they are on a roll several times. After this performance, I agree that these guys are definitely on a roll, especially for a band that's only been together for about a year. These guys have more chemistry than Isaac Newton. Wait he was a physicist, but you get the point. "Your Children Are Screaming" was my favourite, and it probably would still be stuck in my head if it weren't for the two bands following this musical royalty. - Bluesbunny


Discography

'Young Blood' (We Collect Records) Debut EP/single (August 2008) CD/download
'Children'(No Dancing Records) (Nov 2008) Limited Ed. 7"vinyl/download
'Golden Recruit' (Broken Sounds Records) (May 2009) 10" vinyl/download
Strummerville/Oh Yeah Sessions (CD EP) (Oct 2009) - four new live session tracks

Photos

Bio

PANAMA KINGS are Niall, Stu, and Ricky, three boys at the forefront of the current thriving new Northern Ireland music scene, described in a cover feature headline in AU Magazine as "leading the charge of Northern Irish music".

Their song 'Children' was voted by the readers of AU Magazine as one of the top five Northern Irish songs of the last five years, resulting in them being the first unsigned band to appear on the cover - (the previous month it had been Biffy Clyro, the following Franz Ferdinand) - even more of an achievement because the song had only been available on the band’s MySpace or heard at live gigs. ‘Children’ (‘Your Children Are Screaming) was subsequently released as a Ltd. Edition single and remains a live favourite.

As the band get into their stride in 2010, Niall Kennedy's forthright lyrics and guitars are heading towards a more electronic mash-up on the newest material and they are about to play their second headlining gig at Belfast's prestigous Mandela Hall venue.

At the end of 2009 Panama Kings were invited as guests on the A To Z tour with Ash - an alphabetical jaunt around the UK - 26 gigs all sold out, starting in Aldershot and ending at Zennor in Cornwall, with fully committed performances each night resulting in them being picked up by booking agent Steve Strange at X-Ray Touring. To coincide with the tour, the band recorded a live session at the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast and were assisted by Strummerville, the Joe Strummer musician’s support charity, turning the tracks into the Strummerville/Oh Yeah Live Sessions CD.

Ash have their own studio in Brooklyn and since the two bands have now become good friends, Panama Kings hope to be recording a debut album there in New York later in 2010.

‘Golden Recruit’ was the band’s first official single released summer 2009 on Broken Sound, produced and recorded by producer/DJ/Radio One presenter Alex Metric, who highlighted the Panama Kings potent blend of guitars and electro beats. The single picked up plays on Radio One (Zane Lowe), across XFM and BBC 6 Music, increasing the buzz around the band. They were invited and played as part of the NME/Shockwaves tour in February 2010 and currently, when they are not gigging or working on songs for the album, they can be found every Friday night DJing or playing an impromptu live set at their own alternative/electro club night 'Blackout' in Belfast.