Smile Politely

Review: Panel Van’s Words

There’s no denying that this has been somewhat of a banner year thus far for the local punk/diy scene. Five separate houses regulary booking shows on a regular basis, more people coming out on a regular basis, and tons of promising new bands. Case in point: a whole slew of the new bands aren’t just products of previously existing bands, they’re actually a whole new wave of music.


One of those younger bands, out of Mahomet, is Panel Van. Their Words EP is a shining example of the scene’s new blood. While clearly rooted in straight up post-hardcore, twinkly guitar lines also abound, calling to mind Castevet (or Cap’n Jazz) and some of these songs almost get into progressive territory. Thanks to the impeccable recording quality, you can almost imagine Panel Van playin in a room with you when you listen to Words. If the mp3-distillation of the band sounds this good, I can only imagine what the live show is like. It must be quite the thing to see a band move through this many tempo changes, transitions, and moments where soaring choruses break through the chaos to great effect. Not including the hidden track, Words comes in at just under twenty minutes, which is a perfectly concise length for a first release, enough to get your point across, but without burning out or overstating your welcome.

The way that Panel Van mix spiraling prog-rock with the raw shouting and abrupt swings in rhythm can occasionally produce some confusing moments where the band almost sounds unsure — notably, the way the vocal pattern clashes with the instrumental at the start of “Good; Stay Inside” — but someone lets loose with a guitar solo or a shouting break comes along, and all is well again. The band’s raw energy more than compensates for any mistakes made. There’s also a pretty nifty hidden track on the EP, which is probably meant as a joke, but nonetheless allows the band to indulge some of their more experiemental tendencies. Overall, while Words has some minor rough patches, it’s a first effort than band and any scene would be proud of.

Stream/purchase Words at Panel Van’s Bandcamp, or visit their Facebook page here

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