Shallow Cuts are a group of friends. Oh, they’re a group of musicians too. Some people call that a band. They’re a three piece, with members of Dan Padilla, Madison Bloodbath, and Dear Landlord/The Gateway District.
Oftentimes saying a band features members of XYZ isn’t the greatest descriptor, more caught in comparison than in what the side project is doing. In the case of Shallow Cuts, though, it’s fitting: the band is truly a sum of their parts and not a foray into new territory. It’s pop-structured and straight forward, with imperfect vocals, melodic hooks, and lyrics focused on finding one’s place. J. Wang of Dan Padilla (and more) handles vocals and his delivery is entirely familiar, making it hard to separate it from his other work. In Shallow Cuts, though, the pop is cleaner and more up front where Dan Padilla is gruffer. While Dan Padilla is more rough around the edges, with its heart being worn through working class struggle and life’s hardships, the driving emotion behind Shallow Cuts is more in coping with age and place—an intriguing theme from a band whose members are spread across the continent.
It sets the tone quickly in “The Mission,” a song utilizing geography—which is a detail that also features heavily in Dan Padilla lyrics—using the personality of a city to explore deeper character traits. It features clean production and something of a mid-tempo that’s more head-bop than fist-in-the-air. That mid-tempo, melodic base continues throughout and separates the band from the others named earlier. “SLC” has a nice guitar lead-in and is maybe the most similar to a Dear Landlord track on here, melody-wise and also with the group vocals at the chorus.
As a whole the songs are solid, though none in particular jumps off the wax as a clear stand-out. Nothing here strays too far from the (admittedly high) expectations given the members other projects and all four songs deliver a comparable and consistent sound, with a bit of blur-together even in just four tracks/nine minutes. While Shallow Cuts is a marriage of some great bands, it does have the feel of a side project still striving to hit their unique stride on this 7”. It’s good, but not great.
7.0 / 10
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