Panda & Angel, Fonzworth Bentley, and more: Ryan Dombal recommends four songs worth checking out this week

By Ryan Dombal
July 20, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

New music: Panda & Angel, Fonzworth Bentley & more

This Seattle-based group is a little bit twee and a little bit emo, which makes ”Mexico” an exemplar of the just-coined twee-mo movement. A highlight from the quintet’s debut self-titled six-song EP, the song slowly blooms from an acoustic torch whisper to an elegant march across four-and-a-half minutes. Singer-guitarist’s Carrie Murphy’s direct vocals casually cut to the core of a deep-seated regret, ”If I had known that I’d miss you so much, I just would have stayed,” before she’s lifted by a trumpet-wafting denouement. Download the track for free.

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In our modern YouTube world, this joyful video — which features YYY fans from Italy to New Jersey performing the song however they want — seems like a logical conclusion. While some Karen O followers do their best to impersonate her Yeahness, others invent their own visual spin (including a guy shown ironing his friend’s back — it’s weird, but funny). The pastiche comes off like a loving, artist-to-fan tribute, and when these amateurs repeat the refrain, ”I think I’m bigger than the sound,” they mean it. Watch the video at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ official site or, of course, at YouTube

If opening an umbrella indoors really does bring bad luck, this infamous, parasol-wielding former manservant has been flouting such superstitions for years. Now signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, Bentley drops his first single, a haughty hip-hop number with plenty of pink-shirt attitude. He sings the hook terribly and has a goofy flow, but — let’s face it — his over-the top appeal isn’t really based on raw talent. Buy the song on iTunes.

A gang of one, Cairo mastermind Emmett Kelly is 25 years old, but he’s got soul rooted in the soft-psych of the late ’60s. Pitter-pat drums, a sprightly xylophone, and a recorder give this shaggy track some lived-in wear. Kelly’s voice touches on desolate singer-songwriters from Nick Drake to Elliott Smith as it floats above his vintage, strumming backdrop. Download the track for free courtesy of Narnack Records.