Living Dummy is the second record release of together PANGEA, the feel-good West Coast rock band hailing from Santa Clarita, California. PANGEA consists of William Keegan on vocals and guitar, Erik Jimenez on the percussion, and Danny Bengston on the bass. Together the triple threat combines witty lyrics, fast surf-like licks, and an awesome sense of energy in each track.
“No Feelin’” opens Living Dummy and creates an instantaneous amount of high-octane movement within the track’s first seconds. The quick guitar strums and screeching vocals from Keegan are paired with Bengston and Jimenez’ rhythm section, creating an aggressive build up. This quickly launches into the pounding percussion and frantic chorus, the lyrics “It’s all right, it’s okay, I wont cry cause I got no feeling at all,” are shouting over the rest of the instrumentalists. Together PANGEA has this rough and raw sound about their music, but that works in their advantage as their music captures the glory of an older punk rock sound, but brings it into a new wave of listeners.
The following anthem, “Make Me Feel Weeeird” starts up with a quick tapping on the rims of the drums paired with rapid fingering on Bengston’s bass. The track features a lively build-up before reaching a climax of a breakdown that borders on the sound of a Rocky Horror Production. The light-hearted vocals of Keegan exclaiming “You can’t make me think about you crazy,” to then having background vocals of “We think you should go,” creates this beautiful contrast in track tone.
These disagreeing lyrics continue even until the bitter end of “Make Me Feel Weeeird,” where the childlike chorus simply sings “la la la, la la la” over Keegan yelling “I Don’t care if you’re gonna hate me, I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.” All this occurs while the rest of the band becomes this roaring mix-up of crashing cymbals and buzzing bass work. As the track finally comes to a screeching halt, so does the rest of the momentum of the record as it leads into “Night of the Living Dummy.”
An acoustic jam track that begins much slower than any of the previous tracks, it creepily changes up into more of a ballad that relies on Keegan’s voice and guitar to keep the track on rails. “Night of the Living Dummy” features a short, but delightful electric guitar solo that abruptly interrupts the track, stealing the spotlight away from Keegan for nothing more than what seems like moments. While Bengston continues to back up Keegan’s vocals, Jimenez plays a steady, but seemingly loose style of drum beat that only further progresses the overarching style of together PANGEA.
“Shitty” follows and fires up with a quick house-party rock style sound that runs in similar characteristics as WAVVES or even a similar behavior of The Beatles in their earliest form. It feels like a pop track that is ramped up to a much faster pace, and contains a bigger focus on a surf rocker vibe. The lyrics of the track “Shitty” go something along the lines of, “Yeah pretty, she’s a pretty, she got the shitty, she got some shitty.” While the vocals are incredible hard to understand as Keegan nearly screeches and seems to use some distortion or a microphone that can’t audibly pick up exactly what he is saying. Either way, it is outstanding and sounds on a similar style of Lumpy & The Dumpers where the high-pitched yells are accompanied by some quick riffs and intense action.
The following track, “I Don’t Wanna Know You” is of a similar punk rock style that effortlessly combines pounding percussion and an assault on the ears with rough riffs and an overdriven chorus that echoes within the track. It uses a substantial amount of varying style to create a mix of both breakdowns and building sections where Together Pangea is able to slow down and let the guitar become the centerfold of the action. This is also accompanied by sections of “I Don’t Wanna Know You” where the sound is nearly overpowering, like the moment where the band seemingly breaks the flow and creates this interesting use of the bass cascading down the fret board, the percussion smashing cymbals, and Keegan randomly shouting over the chaos within the few seconds the breakdown lasts.
“I Don’t Wanna Know You” then statically fiddles out in the quick-witted and quick-footed track, “Summertime.” This track is a bit more unusual sounding of the other tracks featured on Living Dummy, “Summertime” relies on a rapid boom-bap two-step style of drum beat, but also has a slight brick wall that breaks the action into a halt before launching into a rather odd bridge that uses what sounds similar to a synthesizer to create this child-like wonder. “Summertime” is a rapid-fire style of track where there are only sudden moments of a slowed approach. Most of the time, “Summertime” is a full sprint to the finish, leading into “I Ran.”
“I Ran” meets the halfway mark for Living Dummy and is a track that does not contain a real serious approach to itself. The entire tone is almost lackadaisical, the backing vocals that repeat and shadow Keegan are a subtle, but pleasing approach in adding more layering into a seemingly shallow track. “I Ran” features a slick guitar solo, but the solo is in similar style of length when compared to “Night of the Living Dummy.” “I Ran” then flows into the track’s closer that primarily features a repetition of the opening riffs and the drums and bass falling into silence.
The following track “Hold My Hand” while ugly on the surface, is actually a quick and lovely minute and a half adventure that uses lots of drum fills and rolls from Jimenez. This, compiled with the abrasive style of guitar and bass are the main sources of energy within the track. Together PANGEA is able to then segue the cutesy style into their next track, “Too Drunk to Come.”
“Too Drunk to Come” is less of a subtle love song and more of an homage to a great night where singer Keegan has become “Sick of feeling dead, I had a few too many.” Keegan also expresses that he is “Too drunk to come” as the track title suggests, it feels almost as an homage to The Dead Kennedy’s track “Too Drunk to Fuck,” where singer Jello Biafra subtly explains he is “Too drunk to fuck, It’s all I need right now.”
Following is “Me and You” which opens with the line “Mornings I can’t remember, mornings I just can’t hide,” and features a dance style of track similar in with “Shitty.” The track begs for movement and wishes for someone to lose their mind in the near two-minutes that it lasts in. It also features an exceptional build-up where the guitar goes wild on the fret board and the percussion slams out sixteenth notes on the snare drum. The energy is constant throughout the whole track and ends on an uplifting note of static before coming into the last legs and final acts of Living Dummy.
“My Heart” is an acoustic style love song that features an incredible use of strumming where the guitar almost effortlessly moves upon the fret board. It imitates a Spanish style of playing where it cheerfully plays along with no percussion or bass in the track whatsoever. It is an interesting departure from the primarily punk rock, slamming sounds that Together Pangea creates within first glance. The band reaches deeper and pulls out some more than engaging styles that consistently change up each track. There are similar emotions within tracks, but there is no one song on Living Dummy that feels identical to another.
Following is the graveyard style of track, “Haunted.” Instead of taking a faster approach, this track like its predecessors takes a much more chilled approach and actually becomes more of a sulking sludge fest rather than a punk/surf rock track. It uses whistling and some distortion on Keegan’s vocals that almost make it seem similar to an apparition speaking upon the track. This suddenly changes when the distortion veil is lifted and a distinct chorus appears, almost taking shape before disappearing back into the darkness. Keegan bravely sings “I Know it’ll come back to haunt me in the end, I know it’ll come back to haunt me in the end, I know,” before having his cries silenced by laughter and amplified feedback.
“My Head Is Sick” follows and instantly jumps back into the steady style of sunshine surf rock that Together PANGEA does so well. Instead, this track also features multiple sections where the action falls into more of a 50’s doo-wop style of dance track where the guitar and drums become dreamier and not as focused on shock and awe. This is the case, until the track slowly climbs in and out of these pockets of intense speed and sound. “My Head is Sick” then casually falls back before succumbing to complete silence, and the final leg of Living Dummy.
“Los Angeles” is a love song to Together PANGEA’s residence, “My Home, Los Angeles.” The track starts as a ballad to the City of Flowers and Sunshine, before launching into a frantic and stylish dash with crashing percussion and an animalistic style of energy that reaches an incredible amount of vigor before crashing back down to the ballad style found in the track’s opening. Keegan gives the lyrics his last bit of energy and Together PANGEA ends just as gracefully and beautifully as they began.