I recently spent a few days in Austin for the SXSW festival, where I was bombarded with the future: augmented-reality chambers, robot puppies, and more new music than anyone could responsibly ingest. I soaked up as much of it as I could, but I also gained a new appreciation for quiet, cozy Maine, where the tides go in and out but the trends pretty much stay the same. It’s a place where a new band like Shwill could transport me back to a time before alt-rock became “alt-rock,” and I can almost believe that no one here has heard of Creed yet. On its debut EP, (Balloon), the duo of Mitch Gosselin and Tyler Adams are already uncannily good at hiding big, Trojan Horse hooks beneath crusty guitars and clattering drums. “Waste Time” can pepper me with all the Single White Female lyrics it wants (“I think I’m crossing a line/Wish I were you”), it’s not gonna keep that booming riff out of my head. “The Cape” bites a glossy pop hit, in the grand Cobain tradition, turning the riff from Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” into a dingy punk howler. I know Gosselin and Adams didn’t emerge from time capsules. I know Mainers have lived through the likes of Bush and Creed and nü-metal and Maroon 5. But hearing (Balloon) in this state, where the vistas are always big and the changes reliably small, comforts me just the same.

— Joe Sweeney

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