Don’t be fooled by the jokey song titles and biography, Josh Shulkin is making straightforward, serious music, and his newest EP Milquetoast by Josh Shulkin’s Musical Endeavors is as clear an indication as any. He just hasn’t settled on a clear style. Milquetoast is clearly the work of a talented musician still finding his sound.
This batch of four songs runs the gamut from post-hardcore to emo to pop-rock while wearing a strong lo-fi tinge. Shulkin (while calling his music “Rubik’s Cube Pop”) throws the kitchen sink into these tracks as he mixes conventional power chords with tapping and plenty of electronics. And he clearly has a plethora of influences; listeners will be reminded of a slew of bands such as In: Aviate, Brand New, Blink-182, Minus The Bear, As Cities Burn, and Copeland—just to name a few.
Take for example the third track, “Lavender Gooms,” which begins with some Minus The Bear-esque tapping and finishes with two dance-provoking grooving guitars; this track highlights Shulkin’s musicianship as well as any on the album with it’s layered instrumentation and found sound. The combination of his very simple lyrics repeated over what sounds like blowing leaves might be the most beautiful moment on the album.
But while “Lavender Gooms” pours with potential and catchiness, the title track “Milquetoast” sounds like a pour mix of Sum41 and early Brand New— a style of music that has definitely seen better days.
Expect the less-than-serious “punk-inspired” aspects of Josh Shulkin’s Musical Endeavors to fall by the way side (starting with the name) as Shulkin comes into his own musically. He has a variety of directions to head, but seems to be most comfortable with stretches of distorted guitar jams combined periods of subtle taps and simple vocal melodies.
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