Formed in Yonkers, New York, Panama Dreams have an appealing sound—a little rootsy, a little arty, and often epic—and they exercise a remarkable level of quality control in their works. Every song is well crafted, beautifully written, perfect production, and the performances are incredible. I don’t think there’s anybody doing anything close to these guys, so the standard is their own. And on their latest single “Pale Blue” they’ve topped it.
Great jangly guitar tones, fantastic songwriting, very moving material here. Whether dealing in transcendental imagery or detail-rich true-life experiences, Panama Dreams contribute some of their genres most evocative and affecting turns of phrase. It’s as close to a perfect indie/alternative rock record as I’ve heard this year.
“Pale Blue” wastes no time in reaffirming what Panama Dreams does. The four-minute plus song spends its first third establishing a shuffling rhythm and dense layers of jangling guitar, over which the lead voice of Steven Williams (vocals, guitar, songwriting) creates its own winding melody, like a conversation that keeps shifting focus.
Once the core concept is in place, it’s time to play. The lyrics meander through some insightful ruminations, while the different instruments jostle for position as the song picks up and expands out.
Always in motion and with nice subtle tone changes, the guitar and melody mix perfectly resulting in a memorable song all up. It’s the perfect symmetry of tension and release that makes “Pale Blue” perhaps the best thing Panama Dreams have recorded.
The clean guitars sweep you away while the rhythm engine driven by Tony Ajdari (drums, bass) simmers just under the surface. Williams’ keen ear for vocal melody brightens and drag the song into transcendental territory. It’s this attention to songwriting that makes the song such an awesome experience all the way through.
The entire track is made up of plenty of these angular guitar moments that seem at odds with what precedes and follows it. But as the truest testament to how awesome this record is, it all works and feels completely necessary to the song.
The attention to detail is found on every square inch of this record. It doesn’t hurt that the musicians themselves have plenty of skill to show. Panama Dreams are able to mix technicality and accessibility into the instrumentation. Adjari is exceptional behind the kit as he provides the backbone for the sprawling track.
Still, the main instrument here is the guitar work. Steven Williams writes layered melodies and motifs for the guitar work. At the risk of stating the obvious the guitar has always been the backbone of rock music.
When you boil it all down and point your finger at the true reason people get off on rock of any type, you’ll find your index nail stuck firmly in front of that certain six-stringed instrument. And Panama Dreams, without a doubt, have their own personal way with the instrument. The song writing too, is complex enough to be an interesting study, while remaining entertaining enough to simply just enjoy the music.
Obviously Williams’ vocals also remain a focal attraction of the band, as his way of spinning words is especially pertinent here. All in all, Panama Dreams understand the principle of making impacting indie and alternative rock music, and lay their modus operandi out for all to see on “Pale Blue”. It doesn’t get much better than this. And the result is an epic tune.