REVIEW: Trouble Sleeping – “Imagine me driving in my car trying to wake up”

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Trouble Sleeping
Imagine me driving in my car trying to wake up

The name Trouble Sleeping seems entirely apt here, given the inherent angst in the music. This is the soundtrack to your twenties, aimlessly meandering from bar to bar, a shitty day or night job waiting for you, just so you have a little money for garbage beer, and maybe cigarettes depending on your level of bad decision making. This is the music you put on when you’ve pined after that special someone and it just didn’t work the way you hoped, and you just kind of lay around playing some video game all day, holed up in your basement room or snuggled up in bed or on some sloppy couch, just biding your time. I think that in some way or another, we’ve all been here, just dragging around the world, waiting for who knows what, and bummed that whatever that is didn’t get here quicker, just letting the world pass you by. In my case, that’s the basis for many of my regrets in not having embraced those moments to do more or live larger, and something about the music of Trouble Sleeping speaks to that very specific time in my life.

This is as DIY as it gets, channeling their inner Ty Segall or Car Seat Headrest, that kind of thing where the music just has to get out hell or high water. Recorded to a Tascam cassette four track, there are elements here of pure, unfiltered love of the craft, tape hiss, buzzing guitars that sound like they need fret work, and that overall thinness of recording to 1/8 inch tape. In a lot of ways, that only enhances the experience of the down-and-out slacker, the him, her, or other that just scrapes by with what they have living paycheck-to-paycheck. That malaise, the quiet, if not entirely bitter melancholy, is on display in the music, from the more relaxed and contemplative moments to the louder rockers.

Tracks like Swimsuit Season and Best Friends Theme sees the band at their most rowdy, the kind of lazy jams that make you want to wear shades and blast fuzzed out guitar all goddamn day. Interspersed throughout the album are various “messages,” theoretical or possibly even literal messages played out as if they were recorded to a voicemail for a specific party in mind. It’s a nice touch that speaks in some ways to a younger generation, one that in one way or another exists in as much in a digital space as anything else. I remember dearly that thrill of coming up with a song idea so potent that I had to call someone and share it, and these tracks trigger in me that sense of excitement or longing to be heard, even if it’s through a tiny condenser mic rendering it all but unlistenable. There is something so raw and human about that need that comes through on these recordings, which make for a compelling listen.

There is an easy vibe to this that never feels overwrought or anything but completely earnest. As I’ve written many times before, it’s unwise to assume sincerity in that case, but here context is everything. The songs are heartfelt and inspire in me a specific time and place, which is no easy task. Listen below and hear for yourself.

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