Shin Guard: “Five Songs”

Let me start off by saying that Five Songs is actually a four track album, because before I slid on my headphones and listened to it, I was desperately searching for that fifth song. I refreshed my laptop, went from Spotify to Bandcamp, and checked their Facebook, but, alas, nothing. There really are only four songs on an album entitled Five Songs. This alone intrigued me, so by the time I had finished listening to the four songs, I was more than intrigued…I was a fan of this young, Pittsburgh-based band.

“Bemis Point” opens the album and is undoubtedly my favorite song. The barely two and a half minute track holds its own against other songs in the album that contain more hardcore elements. Ryan Yester completely solidifies the song with his crisp, perfectly timed drumming. Not to mention the ripping on the electric guitar toward the latter end of the song. The chorus is great lyrically, as well as catchy, which takes a bit away from the disheartening factor that comes with it, but still maintains the idea of an unequal love in a relationship. “But I always thought that we would meet an end together/You talked about a way out/I talked about forever.”

Although, I cannot talk about lyrics that I loved from Five Songs without discussing “Corsages.” “Corsages” begins almost as an angsty poem, with every other line being yelled more than spoken or sung. Despite that interesting choice of vocals, the song is dynamite. The whole album is — as described by the band themselves — all about breakups, but they dwell on them in the simplest of ways. “Corsages” is a short story of a girl who saves all her flowers and holds onto them, and emotions, for too long. It’s a melancholy song, for sure, but showcases talent from every edge of the band; from guitar riffs to songwriting ability.

“You Turned Everything To Paper” is similar to “Corsages” but focuses more on the spoken word than the music, which I feel drains the listener. As someone who loves to truly immerse myself in music, I found that the two songs in the row like that were not ideal (for its despondent tone) and elevated it by taking away head-banging beats or toe tapping rhythms.

Even so, that is not to say that the song is not lyrically intriguing to listen to. Especially since it flows into the concluding song “Flubline.” This track is a hole in wall, mosh pit rager. It has so much potential. It feels like Nirvana and Yellowcard came together to create a Bring Me The Horizon song. It suits Shin Guard’s style, but the overall sound of it is a bit too reminiscent of other post hardcore or emo groups. But, I can’t deny my pull towards its beat and verses that Shin Guard so eloquently created.

Picture this: it’s 2004 and genres such as metalcore and garage rock are beginning to have their moment in the media and mainstream culture. Bands like All American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World, The Strokes, Korn, and Bullet For My Valentine are being played on radios, their CDs are sold in Target, their concerts are getting increasingly larger. Britney Spears and the pop scene are narrowing down, the resurgence of independent rock bands growing as they gain commercial success. Shin Guard, although the members of this local band were merely young children at this time, fit right into that world; the world where emo bands, screamo bands, and pop punk bands dedicated themselves to their music and thrived.