This is a review of "The Waterfall EP" recorded by Shallowend. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2001.
Aaaaaghh I must cross the line forbidden to all reviewers and do the unthinkable....review someone I know! Yes now your thinking that's impartiality out of the window but let me explain. Mike and Dave Lott are not an unknown quantity as I spent many a hour in the same classroom as Mike and both come from the same part of Manchester. Now in the interests of being fair to both the band and you the reader, you will just have to trust me that have been completely impartial.
I hate start on a negative rather than a positive, but the fundamental flaw with this e.p. is the quality of the mixing which does no justice to the songs or the band. To allow myself the one customary pun of the review would be the best way to describe it - in saying that is positively 'watery' and masks the quality of Shallowend's songs through out.
Shallowend have a number of nice ideas and influences going on in their music - whether these influences are intentional or not I can not say but the two brothers voices often compliment each other in a style that is particularly reminiscent of Oxfordian shoegazers Ride and a number of times the guitars remind of indie softies The Lemonheads. Do not fear though, Shallowend are not stuck in some early 90's indie time warp and their rumblings have enough angst and grit about them to please the kids of today!
What Shallowend suffer from is the classic problem of structuring and all too often what I feel is missing is the ever important "repeat listening / go away whistling" element. Track 1 "The Waterfall Song" is a melancholic lick that strolls along at the expected pace. "Shadow Falls" picks up the tempo but is perhaps the most dry...sorry...in it's catchiness. "My Star Will Rise Again" is by far the best effort on the e.p. and if it is a sign of Shallowend's future offerings then it is particularly encouraging. In fact in talking of structuring why is this song 3rd on the e.p? Shallowend must be careful not to put off those listeners who aren't quite as persistent. Track 4 also shows an improvement in what the band can do with a quicker pace.
In all Shallowend show a lot of promise and have some nice ideas for melodies and harmonies, once they master the ordering of their songs there's no doubt there will be plenty of good stuff to come. The biggest let down is the production and that is all important these days especially as the music listening public is so spoilt with top quality production everywhere they turn. A professional studio next time would be a sound investment!