Following 2014’s 7” ‘Storm Watch’ and a split with Radon, Shallow Cuts finally release their first full-length, and it pretty much carries off where that 7” left off. Apparently, Shallow Cuts accidently and drunkenly formed a band, but you wouldn’t know it from this recording. Musically, this is superbly and cleanly executed, while still retaining a beating punk rock heart. Shallow Cuts play no bullshit, hook-laden melodic punk rock, like Epitaph used to churn out in the ‘90s. The spirit is partly from that era, with its catchy, mid-tempo nature, but there are also elements of today’s punk rock scene in Empty Beach Town. The Gateway District/Dear Landlord links to this band (from drummer Brad) is not without influence. The apathetic, Kerouacian tales of moving through ghost towns and dive bars are very du jour (particularly considering the band’s label) and some of the tracks here recall Banner Pilot’s slower songs, minus the raspy vocals.
The idea of being ‘left behind’ while others move on to greener pastures is the kind of underlying narrative of the album, where the protagonist is pictured in the title track “running around in an empty beach town in the winter time”. The track following this, “Snails Snails Snails”, is probably the pop-punkiest thing on the album and is great, probably the album highlight. Everything is pretty catchy, hook-y and heart-soaked, but, while Shallow Cuts is excel in executing all these things, their one-track nature holds them back somewhat. When all the songs are mid-tempo, driving and anthemic, they become a little bit indistinguishable. Banner Pilot are similarly considered in some circles to be ‘same-y’, but I don’t personally see it. Shallow Cuts debut LP is somewhat of a blur ultimately- it’s a catchy-as-hell blur, don’t get me wrong- but a blur nonetheless. I would like to see them branch out more, but for a debut LP, this is pretty good stuff.