Shortcuts - Guidance (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Guidance (2011)


Ever try and reconnect with a really good friend from high school that you haven't seen or spoken to in a few years? You meet up after work one day with a little apprehension, but once things get going, there is a certain kind of familiarity that sets your mind at ease. Good vibes start flowing as you reminisce over past glories, punchlines land where you expect them to, and their laugh is still the same as you remember. You start to question why you ever stopped hanging out in the first place. They didn't steal your boyfriend for a cheap one-night stand; they didn't start spouting off sexist, racist or homophobic crap; and they didn't borrow a large sum of money and never pay it back. You should do this more often! But then you start to realize that for all the comfort in this familiarity, it just isn't like you remember it. It all seems a little rehearsed and there isn't any real connection being made here. This is what it is like listening to Guidance by Essex's Shortcuts.

Shortcuts play melodic hardcore of a traditionalist variety, which is nice to hear in this day and age, but with the sheer glut of recorded music I don't tend to go out of my way to listen to something just because it is nice. It is hard not pick up the Ari Katz in guitarist/vocalist Joey Black's vocal delivery; you can predict every drum fill that comes along, and you know when the guitars are going to take break to let the bass ride out for awhile. You want to give the band daps and respect for not throwing in jarring breakdowns and gang vocals over some overproduced thing that Simple Plan would reject like a lot of current popcore/easycore bands. But like Chris Rock was apt to point out: Should you really brag about doing things you are supposed to do, or in this case not do? And that is kind of where any praise ends, because other than a few sparse occasions on "Had Heart" and "04/08/07" that show maybe they've got something going on, the EP is pretty bland. Actually, the band does step out of the box a little on the piano-laden "Stupid", but sometimes I'm not sure if it is good or if it dancing a little too close to Randy Newman territory.

I can't see too many people outside of Static Radio NJ fanboys really digging this too much. However, Shortcuts have only been around since late last year and this is only their second short-form release, so they still have plenty of time to mature as a band and let loose a little.