reviewed by Anna Alger
Nick Cevallos, also known as Shllw, is musing in abstracts and engaging listeners with his guitar heavy pop on debut full-length, SoHo. Shllw’s music recalls the sounds of various artists who have went onto achieve indie stardom, suggesting an encouraging path ahead for the young Hamiltonian.
Shllw opens with the title track, sunny guitar reminiscent of Deerhunter leading the track. Ethereal vocals wrap around the instrumentation. Next is the deceptively bright, “Afraid,” followed by the mellow bounce of “Mirror.” The vocals carry some of the desperation of early Death Cab for Cutie, the major key juxtaposing the lyrics and propelling the song forward. “Memories” soars instrumentally, with sparkling guitar riffs interspersed between Cevallos’ soft vocal musings.
“Versailles” is jaunty, yet its lyrical focus is on a desire to be “drifting away,” leaving behind a lifestyle or place for something better. Poppy guitar and a precise rhythm section provides the backdrop to the reedy vocal delivery of “Compare,” a song whose chorus nearly bursts with indie rock intensity. The downtempo mood of “Certain” is conveyed beautifully in the harmonious guitar present in the verses, jumping quickly into a comparatively hard and heavy chorus. “As We Know It” recalls the sound of Alvvays, its stripped back instrumentation and clear guitar melody providing a seamless transition from verse to chorus and back again.
Shllw excels in crafting intricate guitar melodies that are deeply evocative and provide direction for his crisp pop songs. Cevallos has crafted an album of strong, upbeat, guitar based tracks with SoHo, his lyrics starkly different from most of the music’s energy. This provides an intriguing juxtaposition, although some diversification of this structure could provide a welcome evolution for future releases.
SoHo is available as a free download via Bandcamp.
Top Track: “As We Know It”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)