Monday, March 22, 2010

EP Review: The Panic Is On!

"And all I want is to go farther than my mouth will let me." (from "Farther")

If we think of life and its soundtrack as part of a continuum, the past few months in the One Note Ahead universe have made perfect sense. For example, at the end of 2009, Panic Years' self-titled debut and Reality Stricken's Signal Fire ran neck-and-neck in the "EP of the Year" stakes, with Panic Years getting the nod. Here I am three months later, now Reality Stricken's publicist, beginning another phase of campaigning on their behalf but taking a little time out to review Panic Years' second EP.

Finally, Today Is Tomorrow is not a radical departure from the first EP. Yes, the band's influences are somewhat more pronounced this time around, Foo Fighters and Silversun Pickups in particular, but Panic Years still don't really sound like anyone else to my ears. The basic elements that made the band so special in the first place are still here: fluid-but-driving guitars, complex drumming patterns, raw vocals, and the juxtaposition of beautiful melodies with downbeat lyrics.

However, Finally is not a mere retread of the eponymous debut. Finally has a more straightforward rock sound overall, with a greater focus on electric guitars and drums presented more aggressively in the mix. Considering what singer Ed Everett does to his voice, it's a wonder he even has one left, but on this EP he explores new dimensions of it: from soft near-whispering to throaty growling to shouting like Mick Jagger, as well as the pained screaming we so loved on the first record. There is also a higher level of complexity to the song structures and arrangements, although this seems a natural progression given that the songs and arrangements on Panic Years were hardly simple.

EPs are proving to be an ideal medium for this band, with two strong five-song collections that have their own identities and personalities. It'll be interesting to see where Panic Years go next artistically, but meanwhile they will be literally going a few places to celebrate tomorrow's release of Finally, Today Is Tomorrow. Catch them on Volta Radio tomorrow night, March 23rd, at 7:30 PM (EDT) and on Radio 104.5 Friday, March 26th, at 5 PM (EDT). If you're free that night, at least 21, and can get there and back home, consider their CD release show at North Star in Philly.

For music and more info:
Panic Years EP review:

Copyright © 2010 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

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