I Couldn't Sleep

The New Lows

Independent release, 2012


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Spearheaded by veteran indie rock luminary Mike Levin, these days, the previously based New Yorkers The New Lows are back in Orlando, with Levin picking up a new band to help flesh out his punk rock-influenced tunes that place a lot of emphasis on rock. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Taking an approach that is usually associated with the No Idea Records camp just north of The New Lows, Levin and company refine their gritty, DIY roots and add a smattering of country, folk, and even classic rock feelings to their mature body of work. It results in a disc that's varied enough to bring to mind speedy punk like Husker Du, or even more pensive, warm sounds akin to The Weakerthans.

"Losing Streak" is a strategically placed opening track, a propulsive rocker with bouncy rhythms and a raw, old school vibe that brings to mind The Misfits. The punk ideas continue on with the following tracks "Ferposhknickt" and "Ghost," the latter reminding me of a less anthemic Swingin' Utters. The middle tracks here become a bit more restrained, as the pace slows down, though the song craft remains imaginative. Songs like "Stove" and "Abeyance" are tamer, sounding like a reflective, older punk band. However, near the end, "Bite Me" gets things back to full throttle with nice backing vocals and interesting guitar work attached to this upbeat rocker.

This is the kind of album that inspires people to pick up their own instruments and make noise. The New Lows is well versed in many dimensions of underground rock that are all represented well here. While tracks like "Arbor" shine like a subdued Lou Barlow tune, others, like the fluid alt-rock of "Goat Song," would have had A&R executives scrambling to sign the band in the post-Nirvana punk explosion. Though The New Lows is certainly obscure and mainstream outlets will probably overlook this release, I Couldn't Sleep is a solid, intelligent, and gripping 30 minutes.

Rating: A

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