Bitter Shovel

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The energy is undeniable, but this engine is running on recycled fuel. The heavy tempos, walls of guitars, baritone emoting of singer David "E" Frazier, and so on, suggest that they can kick it on-stage. Beyond that, there's little to be said about Bitter Shovel in its own right. The songs don't linger that long, the quiet passages aren't quiet enough to provide effective dynamic contrast, the band relies more on volume than groove to hit its high points, hooks are blunt as well as scarce, and the limited vocal range casts a shadowy glaze over the lyrics after a few minutes. In this context, the Celtic-inflected opening to "Way I Am" sounds scarily reminiscent of Spinal Tap for a moment. Should every band be expected to change the world? Not at all. But with more and more artists clamoring for attention in these busy times, it may be harder to find the time for anything that's more about conforming to prevalent styles than challenging them.

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