Handing out their strong 2012 demo at recent shows and online, Shorthand have followed it up this month with “Stunts Only Goons Attempt,” another free five-track EP that says a lot about these up-and-comers in a short amount of time.
Opener “Kokiri” starts off with a driving drum beat that sets the classic punk tone they maintain so well throughout before slowing it down for the building introduction of “Nameless.” The only track carried over from their demo, “Nameless” sounds better than ever here as the poetic lyrics retell a youthful love story gone awry: “She burned out like a comet, a thing of beauty / Then she disappeared and extinguished with her was my mind already weak from those years.” Listeners can practically hear the crowd chant along to the refrain: “Leave me alone / Let me slide down the wall / Watch my head smack off the foyer floor.”
The anger and sarcasm positively drip from the short and fast “Keep It,” and if the determined “Try Hard” doesn’t get your blood pumping, head bobbing, and fist pumping, then what are you doing listening to a punk record? Just as they are “not settling” for a wasted future, the Scranton-based storytellers don’t settle for recent genre trends, choosing clean, melodic vocals over indecipherable screams, and they’re not afraid to experiment with a richer sound on “Ten Toes,” appropriately featuring guest vocals by A Fire With Friends/Esta Coda singer Dan Rosler.
Recorded and mixed by Jake Clarke and mastered by Joe Loftus and Jay Preston of JL Studios in Wyoming, music fans who grew up on ‘90s punk rock will find plenty to enjoy here while younger listeners will recognize that Shorthand’s connection to Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, and The Menzingers is more than geographical. Make no mistake, though – Shorthand writes its own chapter in local music that has all the indie cred of a basement show and the mainstream likability of a Warped Tour headliner.
“I’m not the break you’re looking for,” are some of the last words uttered. Actually, after listening to this EP, Shorthand just may be.
Shorthand ‘Stunts Only Goons Attempt’ Rating: W W W W V