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The refreshing indie rock of The Shallowz

Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream


It’s difficult for musicians, or any artists for that matter, to be effortless.


We’re often so into ourselves, and so sure we’re this close to creating the next big thing, that we try way too hard. When we do this, we lose the essence of creation: spontaneity, letting ourselves go, getting caught up in the moment, just doing it for the music.

 

Indie rockers The Shallowz don’t have this problem. 


Because they know who they are and what they’re trying to do – they’re adults that spend their weekends making music they love – they aren’t overthinking it. They’re doing it for the fun and love of the music, and this redounds to their benefit on their latest album, More Songs, Same Barn.


Who are The Shallowz?

 

Northern Virginia quartet The Shallowz formed in 2011. The core of the band is hard-hitting guitarist Ian Kach, engaging lead singer Marc Dixon, and the strong rhythm section of Lee Presgrave (bass) and Scott McAll (drums). Other contributors include guitarist/background vocalist Jason Pualoa, guitarist Mike Heskett, and keyboardist Mike Smith.


The Shallowz released their first single, “Every Single Day,” in 2013. The catchy, upbeat, well-written rocker was a good indication of the direction the band would take.  

 

The Northern Virginia rockers followed up their first single with an EP, January 2020’s Barn Sessions, Vol 1. The solid four-song EP was another step forward.


Energetic opener “Walk Away” evokes Tonic and other classic 90s alternative rock, contemplative “Breathe Again” builds into a unique combination of ballad and hard rock track, and “Give Me Time” begins subtly but builds epically. An acoustic version of “Breathe Again” rounds out the release.


More Songs, Same Barn

The Shallowz have really hit their stride, though, with their latest album, June 2022’s More Songs, Same Barn. 

Their second non-single release, and the second widely available on streaming platforms, More Songs, Same Barn was mostly recorded in lead guitarist Ian Kach’s barn in Warrenton, Virginia. Most of it was recorded over the last couple years, though some tracks are from as far back as 2016. 

On the one hand, you can’t tell that it was recorded in the DIY style in a barn. The guitars are heavy and crisp, the vocals strong and up front, and the bass and drums sparkle. Sonically, More Songs, Same Barn fits the aesthetic of the band itself: they care, and they try, but they’re mostly just letting it happen naturally, which is rare for musicians. 

The indie, alternative rock of More Songs, Same Barn hearkens back to 90s alternative and indie rock in the best sort of way, but also has its own unique and contemporary sound. Touchstones include Pearl Jam, Tonic, and the heavier, more songwriting-forward moments of Hootie and the Blowfish (who were way cooler, and better musicians and songwriters, than they often get credit for, btw).

Energetic “I Don’t Give a Damn” begins the album. Marc Dixon’s vocals are a highlight, as they are throughout the album. His smooth, strong voice is at the forefront of the personality of The Shallowz, and they’re the better off for it.

The indelibly catchy, chunky alternative rock of “Soul Seeker” follows. Dixon’s voice is strong again, and the production sound is big and warm.

Many of the Shallowz songs build in almost an epic sort of way. They use dynamics well, especially on tracks like the midtempo swagger of “To Be Determined,” ballad-turned-rocker “Veritas,” and flowing 90s rock homage “In Another Life.”

“The Fall” is another highlight. It has an overall Springsteen vibe, especially the keyboard break in the middle. The guitar of Ian Kach especially shines on “Slow Burn” and closer “The End.”

The one word that describes The Shallowz

Effortlessness is in short supply in the music industry today, which is why The Shallowz are such a breath of fresh air. The one word that describes them? Refreshing. They’re a refreshing break from the often try-too-hard mentality that dominates today.

Erik Ritland is a songwriter and journalist from Nashville, Tennessee. He's released 13 records and EPs, most recently 2021's innovative movie album Old Dog Almost Gone. His journalism has been featured on Something Else! Reviews, Music in Minnesota, and more, and his articles have been shared by members of bands as diverse as KISS, the Monkees, Son Volt, and Low Cut Connie.