Panoply Academy Glee Club – Rah! / Concentus

Panoply Academy Glee Club
Rah! / Concentus

The Panoply Academy group changes their name with each line-up change. Going from the Glee Club to the Corps of Engineers, the band is now the Panoply Academy Legionnaires. If that’s not unusual enough for you, listen to the music. Sounding as if The Dismemberment Plan, the Archers of Loaf and Modest Mouse all had a child together, Panoply combines quirky vocals, mathrocky time changes and angular guitar to compose unusual, wild, and often great rock songs. They even throw in moments of horns to spice things up. Their own site calls their music damaged art-punk, which sums it up quite well. Think The Wicked Farleys and The Vehicle Birth with more noise elements and more off-kilter vocals. Think Jawbox with weirder time changes. Think Smart Went Crazy with yodeling and obscure breaks. That about sums up Panoply, one of the most original, exciting, and terminally overlooked bands around.

Rah! is an odd album, with 21 tracks but only 10 real songs. In between are assorted sound blasts, noises, little clips, cheers, and other oddness. It’s a clever way to break up the album and promote some originality. The songs themselves, however, are excellent. “Allies in Insects” for example, is distorted, angular rock with a quirky timeframe. “Hustle” is a bit more poppy, with a driving rhythm and bouncing guitar lines. “The Post-Contest” is one of the most disjointed songs, with blasts of guitar, double vocals, and some odd bass-lines. “The Administration” uses repetition in both lyrics and bass lines to provide a flowing, rhythmic, head-bobbing song. “Our Coordinates from Orbit” uses electronic bleeps and samples for a longer track that’s more of an instrumental, with the vocals mostly mumbled. The repetitive chords greatly reminds me of a Modest Mouse track, and “The Entrance of the Candidate” reminds me more of an Archers of Loaf song, especially because of its driving guitar and noisy power. “A Justifiable Trajectory” is a surprisingly mellow almost-instrumental that shows off the band’s talent in a more pretty, flowing style. And “AwayTeam” has an almost Dismemberment Plan groove, with horns and the band shouting “Rah! Rah! Rah!” and “Go! Fight! Win! Tonight!”

Concentus is barely more than an EP at just under 30 minutes, but it clearly shows a band that has more developed their sound. With a more somber, darker mood, this album has much more rockers and rhythm than Rah! without sacrificing some of the quirky nature. Like “Beating Boring Organ Takes Bogus Breath,” which has a definite groove and heavy bassline and chiming guitar while maintaining a Modest Mouse feel. “Rules of Engagement” rocks and features singer Darin Glenn’s almost yodel. “The Assist” is one of the more disjointed feeling songs, going from steady beat and rhythm to a broken down groove with Glenn’s vocals again hitting all sorts of vocal ranges before breaking into a rocker. “50%” is one of the more steady indie rockers with some beautiful complex guitar, at least until it breaks down to Glenn yodeling in the background, accompanied by trumpet, an odd mixture. “Nar Nar Nar” is a post-punk rocker with some more amazing, disjointed guitar work. “The Entertainers” is an odd mix of guitar-heavy rock and bass-heavy groove interspersed (not at the same time). And the album finishes off with “Tsk Tsk,” which rocks in the most disjointed way yet but does break it down almost jazzily (is that a word?) at the end.

It’s really a shame that few people have caught on to the glorious confusion that is Panoply Academy. While Rah! is a discordant romp, off-kilter and urgent, Concentus is more mature and more powerful. And live, this band can’t be missed. They manage to reproduce this unusual sound perfectly live, and they’re excellent musicians. So check out Panoply before the name changes again.