Jumping Away From Something Exploding
Devil in the Woods
Shallow is a very focused on being a rhythmic pop band. The beat of the drums, bass, guitars and sound effects are both subtle and driving at the same time. As a result, the “sway” the music creates in listeners is different for each song but quietly effective.
That might be because the music is sometimes hidden behind the clear, innocent-sounding vocals of lead singer Julie Shields. An obvious vocal reference point is the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, but perhaps it is more fitting to think of a 16-year old Harriet Wheeler. Not that Shield’s vocals are bad; they are just very distinguishable by their young sound.
The irony is that sweet sounds such as her vocals, the keyboard melodies, and the flute solos (!) are usually juxtaposed by a background of distorted sounds. There’s a lot happening in a Shallow song — the band’s name is an obvious misnomer.
Sometimes Shields’ harmonizing her own vocals during quiet parts is a little too cutesy, but the fault isn’t a major flaw. Shallow is simply usually at their best when the individual vocal style is used.
Live tracks on albums are sometimes ho-hum. However, the inclusion of “Missle Command,” from their previous album, High Flyin’ Kid Stuff , is interesting, because it shows that Shallow is not just a band that relies on studio gadgetry to concoct their appealing mixture.
It’s an impressive display and a welcome surprise. Other live tracks include a swelling original instrumental, as well as able versions of the Cure’s “Push” and the classic “Shoot the Drummer” (a.k.a. “The Little Drummer Boy”).
Jumping Away is a gem of an album that doesn’t sound like between-album filler. Additionally, if it’s any indication of what’s to come, the new album should be one to eagerly await.
Devil in the Woods, P.O. Box 11348, Berkeley, CA 94713; http://www.devilinthewoods.com