Carbon-copy grunge: Lowlives release fails to meet expectations

Kristen Kaelin, North Campus Editor

LA-based grunge quartet Lowlives released a “two-track single” this month. Legendary rock critic for the Guardian, Dom Lawson, describes the group as “an invigorating alternative to the modern era’s endless tsunami of cookie cutter, cut ‘n’ paste rock and metal,” but their recent release is in stark contrast to that statement.
In reality, the two tracks, “Hey You” and “Asking for a Friend,” are fine, nothing more. With the exception of some intentionally poorly-executed sound mixing, the songs are inoffensive. The problem is, they end up feeling kind of soulless. The melodies feel recycled from 1995, the backing guitar is simplistic, and the lyrics had a painfully generic “we don’t follow the rules” motif.
Lowlives may have a history of doing grunge right, but the “Hey You” release falls short. It isn’t so much grunge as it is something that really wants you to think it’s grunge.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the tracks are bad. They’re a good listen, and the potential is obvious. “Hey You” is fine, just a bit derivative. “Asking for a Friend” is a good song, just ingenuine. If the sound mixing hadn’t leaned so hard into (probably) intentional radio static, they’d fit right in with a throwback playlist to the mid-2000s emo-rock and post-punk revival.
In spite of the assertion that Lowlives produces off-the-wall fringe rock, this new release feels as cookie cutter as many of the other bands to make that claim. Dirty sound mixing isn’t a substitute for the rawness of grunge. This release isn’t the next “Come as You Are,” and that’s okay. If it had been billed as any old alternative album, it would have been much less disappointing.
“Hey You” is available for streaming and purchase as of Feb. 3.