The 90 Day Men evolved into one of the more distinctive math rock bands of the new millennium, opening up the angular, dissonant complexity that was the genre's stock-in-trade to include elements of psychedelia, '70s prog rock, and new wave. Early on, their sound was more typical -- post-hardcore art-punk indebted to Slint and their various Louisville brethren (Rodan, June of 44, etc.) as well as D.C.'s Dischord stable. As keyboards became an increasingly important part of their core sound, however, they shifted into a more accessible, jam-friendly style, wrapping prominent piano melodies in droning, reverb-heavy noise.
Formed in St. Louis in 1995, the 90 Day Men were originally a trio built around guitarist/vocalist Brian Case and drummer Cayce Key. Their name was a reference to cop slang for prisoners slated for psychiatric evaluation. The 90 Day Men's original bassist was replaced by onetime cornet player Robert Lowe in 1997, the same year the group issued the 7" single "If You Can Bake a Cake, You Can Build a Bomb" on Actionboy Records. It was followed in 1998 by an EP on Temporary Residence, called 1975-1977-1998; later that year, the band inked a deal with Southern Records and debuted with another 7", "She's a Salt Shaker" b/w "Activate the Borders." 2000 brought a split release with San Diego art-punkers Gogogo Airheart, as well as the first ever 90 Day Men full-length, the confusingly titled (It (Is) It) Critical Band. The album featured occasional contributions from pianist/keyboardist Andy Lansangan, who subsequently became the group's fourth member.
Lansangan really began to make his presence felt on the 2002 follow-up, To Everybody, which often placed him in the melodic spotlight. Produced by John Congleton (the Paper Chase), who accentuated the band's progressive leanings, the album also marked an improvement in Case's singing, which had heretofore been more of a limited textural element. Those advancements continued on the late-2003 EP Too Late or Too Dead, which was followed in short order by the full-length Panda Park in early 2004. Already playing to a cult indie audience, Panda Park earned the group some of its best reviews to date, expanding their interest in psychedelia and drawing on the avant glam of David Bowie, Roxy Music, and early Brian Eno. ~ Steve Huey