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Shin Guard - "Five Songs" EP review

Last week, someone sent an EP for review to the Skull Valley page. The sender described their band, Shin Guard, as a Pittsburgh-based post-hardcore band. "Well I owe it to this person to review it," I thought to myself, "but unfortunately I don't think I am going to like it." It didn't turn out so bad.


The cover of Shin Guard's Five Songs is okay. It's not great, but it's not bad either. I like the desaturated look, like porcelain or a colorized pfoto from a century ago. The pale color denotes a fragility to the image. Originally, I thought that the closeup of a nosebleed was way too similar to the infamous cover to Andrew W.K.'s I Get Wet. After looking at that cover again, there are actually very little similarities other than the nosebleed. Since that is the main focus, it's still kind of weird, but I think that a nosebleed makes sense considering the songs. When I think of someone having a nosebleed, I think of anxiousness, fights, embarrassment, or drug use; all of these things are relevant to the teenage problems expressed on this album. In that light, the cover is actually a good choice.


The first track of the Five Songs is "Bemis Point", seemingly a misspelling of the village Bemus Point, NY on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. The lyrics describe a failed relationship involving self-harm and maybe suicide. I don't think much of the lyrics here, but the musick is good! It has a more 90s sound than I expected, the guitar jangling like a less jammy Dinosaur Jr or a more rocking Julianna Hatfield Three. The vocals almost hit that unbearable pop-punk sing-song region but stray far enough away that it's just more of a standard pop style. I don't like "Corsages", at least the beginning. The screaming vocals sound somewhat comical, cheesy, and overdramatic. It has the same kind of lyrics as the previous song. Again though, the musick is really nice. I really like the fuzzy guitar and the snappy drums. The clean backing vocals add a nice touch as well.

On the third track, "You Turned Everything to Paper", I realized two things. First, there are only four songs here. Second, all the songs really are about breakups; it plainly says that. Anyway, "You Turned Everything to Paper", which I really wish was called "Everything Turns to Paper", reminds me of an anime I watched called Sola. Like this, it was also a little overdramatic, though the main things I remember are a character that seemed to be a vampire getting some juice from a vending machine and a really weird twist in the plot, similar to the title of this song, that made me uninterested in finishing it at the time. This track is way different than the others, a spoken word piece with ambient sounds behind. It flows really nicely, and there are some awesome sounds here too. The final track "Flubline" has more awful screaming vocals. I really like the drum sound, but the guitar sounds more generic. It's still not bad. I really can't stand the screaming vocals, though. Even beyond my standard dislike of screamy-ness, the delivery is weird. The weird glitchy feedback at the end is so awesome.

Where's the fifth song? Maybe it's a statement on loneliness, incompleteness. Maybe it's some kind of post-modern, internet-age reference to Fugazi's habit of naming albums after the number of songs. I found it interesting that it wasn't there.

Five Songs was better than I expected. As I said above, I generally don't like post-hardcore (along with emo, pop-punk, trap rap, death (and other kinds of) metal, D-beat/crust, hardcore, or modern pop country). There are always exceptions, though. While I still didn't love the vocals or the lyrics, and really didn't like the screaming vocals, I do think that Shin Guard did a good job. Though I don't really listen to this kind of musick, the tracks on Five Songs were different enough to be interesting. I really liked that there was a poem on here, and I thought the production sounded great. If you are a fan of these genres, I think you would really like this EP. Five Songs gets a Good.

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