On the surface, San Diego/Minneapolis trio Shallow Cuts don’t sound terribly dissimilar from their pop punk brethren, but there’s something lurking in their melodies, song structures, and chord progressions that lingers in the ether between the two genres. The cheery guitar line on Side A’s “The Mission” feels more like The Cure than Alkaline Trio, while recalling both. When placing “89 Suzuki” on a mixtape, it could play just as well next to Billy Joel as The Lawrence Arms. Side B’s “SLC” feels like a brighter Gaslight Anthem with lyrics by John Cougar Mellencamp, but it possesses a purity all its own. Final track, “Calamine” boasts an intro and breakdown that scream for a place in the life-affirming climax of a twee indie film, and finds ways to integrate subtle, refreshing key changes and vocal runs throughout. Its title, lyrics, album art, and marbled grey vinyl may seem foreboding, but Storm Watch is like an injection of serotonin and nostalgia straight into your brain.
–Kelley O’Death (No Idea, [email protected], noidearecords.com)