Panels is a local band from Clarksburg, MD, and they were founded in June of 2016. Planets is their first EP, and it’s an exciting debut from an unknown act. I’m blown away by the production value and songwriting ability present on this short but sweet little EP. If this is achievable on their first effort, I look forward to seeing what comes next for Panels.
The six-track EP entitled opens with the funky bass rhythm of “Synchronous” which jumps to and fro; up and down; back and forth. They combine jazzy, funky, soulful rhythms that seem reminiscent of the heights of the ‘80s with the intimacy of modern pop music. Tuneful, soft and timid vocals fluctuate and dance atop the addictive bass line beneath. A catchy, clapping drum beat accompanies the many complex and sonically juicy rhythms at play during this melody. I’ve never heard something so rich and ‘lip-bite-inducing’ from an indie artist before, but I’m grateful I have now. A variety of instruments, including clean, sleek and punchy electric guitar towards the latter half of the track, really adds to the many layers and complexity of this opening song.
The excitement continues on “Fly” which lives up to its name; this is most certainly a fly track (if that’s still cool to say). It comes in at only just over a minute, but truly accomplishes a lot in terms of sonics during that short runtime. An electronic drum clicks and clacks and pulsating synths, along with a continuous chord, warble and ripple atop this simplistic, mellow and catchy beat. Some percussive variations add a little funky variety to the track towards the close, but it’s the repetitive simplicity of this track that makes it funky and “fly.”
‘Heartbeat’ opens with an ominous synthetic noise which seems to have endless depth. Catchy, melodic and powerful synthetic keys reverberate through the noise. Eventually, a slow drum beat and a ballad-esque bass and guitar rhythm join the mix. Twinkles and glittering moments of synthetic notes dance atop this mellow mix. Reflective and emotive vocals join this musical balladry later on in the track, and it was the raw energy which truly captivated me here. There’s so much real emotion in the voice, even if it is still quite timid and restrained. I thought this worked well here, though I did think the vocals could perhaps have done with a little reverb in order to blend in with the spacey atmosphere; this is just a production quip, and it’s a subjective opinion.
All in all, I loved all the sounds, along with the instrumental and vocal performance. A spoken word piece in the latter half of the track about heartbeats is quite sweet, tender and intimate. It creates a real connection with the listener. There’s so much psychedelic, musical madness in which to sink your teeth here too. It’s a song you just have to listen to for yourself.
“Massive”’ opens with a reverberating, distant electric guitar line which is joined by a muted, uplifting rhythm. A throbbing bass riff accompanies the other instruments, maintaining the calm, timid feel of the track. Far from the title’s suggestion, this track is not massive, but it is serene and captivating. Perhaps that is, in a way, a massive sound. A piercing guitar solo buzzes and throbs, but still does so in such a distant, lost manner that it does not ruin the quiet aesthetic present here.
This EP is funky at times and peaceful at others. There’s so much variety, and it’s well worth a listen.
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