Reviews Shallow Cuts Empty Beach Town

Shallow Cuts

Empty Beach Town

Sometimes I want to add a lot of back story, my own perspective coming into a record. While that certainly shapes the experience, sometimes you have to let it stand for itself. Shallow Cuts tie into a number of other bands: Dan Padilla, Madison Bloodbath, The Gateway District, Dear Landlord, Tiltwheel. Probably the whole of San Diego the way this sentence is shaping up. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been there. I hear the burritos are great and it’s sunny all the time, if the members of Shallow Cuts are to be taken at word.

All the bands listed above give context but this is a new band, their first full-length. Empty Beach Town is rough around the edges yet direct in tone and smooth in melody. It’s DIY punk at heart, but it’s a bit cleaner in both melody and production compared to much of that genre, straddling that line between Dear Landlord and Dan Padilla well but nowhere near confined to the overlapping Venn diagram between the two.

All three members alternate vocals though it’s mostly guitarist J Wang and bassist Matty Kirkley trading the microphone on Empty Beach Town, bringing notable guitar leads that push the songs along as drummer Brad Lokkesmoe pushes the gas pedal, structuring the songs from behind the kit and giving them their real power. While they take turns at the microphone, the styles are similar enough that it’s always smooth and seamless.

Lyrically it’s a heartfelt mix of hope and humility. Songs are confessional like “Snails Snails Snails,” personal like “Cynical Hearts,” and they always sound like they mean it. That sounds corny, but it’s the tone and honesty of the music that connects, and Kirkley’s easy delivery is able to walk the line between vulnerability and authoritative narrator. It’s subtle and it takes a while to fully click but when it does, its embracing. When the record ends on the line “it’s just a sentiment,” it fits the whole experience.

Shallow Cuts is certainly at home on No Idea Records but it’s also got a cleaner focus that pulls away from coarse (read: raspy) vocals and driving beats, instead pulling the tempo back just a step while looking inward at ourselves and outward toward the Pacific Ocean, burrito in hand as the hot sun helps us sweat another hangover away.

8.5 / 10Loren
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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