Overnight Lows: City of Rotten Eyes Review
Though I am (arguably) the least punk member of Reviler’s staff, I do have an appreciation for the genre. It’s a highly reactionary appreciation though – These days I tend to enjoy punk albums more for what they aren’t than for what they are. And part of the reason why I have been enjoying City of Rotten Eyes by punk lifers Overnight Lows (formerly Coma) probably has more to do with my own narrow ideals than the band itself. They are gritty, un-melodic, and they don’t give a shit. They aren’t pushing a narrow minded political agenda. They aren’t bitching about how they got snubbed by the popular girl. Perhaps most importantly they don’t have that nasal, adolescent whine that appeals so much to teenagers. What they do have is aggressive fast paced rhythms, throbbing basslines with thrashy guitar accompaniment, as well as viciously bitter boy/girl vocals.
At less than a half an hour long, CORE’s twelve tracks whip by in a frenzied blur. Husband and wife duo Marsh and Daphne Nabors don’t take a lot of time setting up complex arrangements – in every track they seem to be in a hurry to get to the next one. Drummer Paul Artigues (of Die Rotzz and bizarrely also a Food Network featured chef) keeps a fire under the pair with propulsive, breakneck beats – though with the way the Nabors whip through songs it doesn’t even seem necessary. Noone stops to rest or takes time to explain – by the time you’ve sorted out what they’re yelling about the band is already several miles past you down the road.
But that isn’t to say the lyrics are throwaway. Songs like “So Well Read” and “Dirty Looks” have a sort of populist antagonism to them that works precisely because it doesn’t seem focused or too thought out. This isn’t a “let me tell you in great detail just why I am so angry” it’s more of an angry grunt, followed possibly with a boot to the face. It’s a style that evokes no frills Ramones-ish quickstep punk with most of the fun replaced with the bands’ dystopian anxiety. “Bad Times” is more or less a list of stuff that seems to freak Marsh Nabors out, and if you know the name of “Picked Apart (Left To Rot)” then you know about half the song’s lyrics already. For such brief, sporadic musical jaunts though the Nabors pack in enough skilled guitar and bass chords for a record at least twice as long.
Overall, Overnight Lows probably aren’t for everyone. If you grew up listening to more the melodic, pop punk sound of groups like NOFX, Anti Flag, or Bad Religion – well this sound might not be your truck. If you like your sounds gritty and abrasive though with heavy garage/rock influence – then you may want to give Overnight Lows a spin.
— Jon Behm
CORE is available now via Goner Records
Overnight Lows: Myspace