Panda – Twenty String EP

Twenty String EP

This unknown Texas five-piece plays beautifully drawn-out and slow indie rock (often at times labeled as slowcore) so magnificent and melodic that it is quite a shame that more people do not know of their existence; I’m sure this will change shortly. Their music is a delicate blend of acoustic instrumentation mixed with the kind of light atmospherics that tend to lull and enchant the listener into a blissful state. Six songs and 34 minutes later, one awakens from the experience to feel like it was more of a self-cathartic and introspective journey rather than a typical indie-rock record.
“Too Much Thought” starts the EP out with Jeremy Yocum’s broken chords on acoustic guitar followed by the meanderings of Stephen Kimbrell’s electric accompaniment. Additional instrumentation such as bass, viola, percussion, and synths are added to blend a sound that is uncharacteristically full for music of this nature. This song continues to be one of my favorites on the EP as I’ve listened to it about 30 times and have yet to grow tired of it. “The Beauty of Deep Lines” has the feel and aesthetics of some of the later works of Lullaby for the Working Class with its rich acoustic tonality and organic feeling instrumentation. Yocum’s delicately sung vocals are a nice touch that provides a sense of stillness and calmness for the song without boring the listener.
“On Your Path” continues to be a favorite of mine with its intricate blend of melodic harmonization on chiming guitars. Bradly Brown’s drumming keeps the perfect pace and mood, while Stephen Kimbrell’s effect-laden guitar provides just the right amount of ambience. Unique to this song is Eric Elterman’s accordion, which flows about quite nicely in the background, providing an interesting layer. “As Soon as We Find Our Way Through the City We Get Lost” takes on a bit of a darker and melancholy tone in comparison with the rest of the record. This fragile piece is loaded to the brim with rich layers of instrumentation that entice and entrance the listener – it is certainly well accomplished. “Vigils and Matins” is a bit more folk-influenced with a finger-picked acoustic guitar that seems to flow nicely. Elterman’s viola is melodic and top rate and you just know he must have played first chair in orchestra with his rich tonality. The disc ends with “New Moon,” a track that provides just the right amount of closure to this intricately constructed and subdued album.
Writing about unknown bands tends to be unrewarding at times when one is forced to critique a band that usually lacks talent, originality and depth. Contrary to this notion, I can say that Panda’s Twenty String EP proves to have a considerable amount of all of these qualities – something that tends to be a rarity these days. The band’s maturity and careful grace in songwriting in combination with their melodic ability and technical proficiency makes for a truly rewarding experience.