After three EPs of hooky, largely synth-driven indie-pop, L.A. trio DWNTWN whips out the distorted guitars and a driving ’80s bass line on their new single, “Bloodshot Eyes.” It’s DWNTWN’s first release since 2014’s self-titled EP, and the first single from their debut full-length, “Racing Time” (out July 21). Two years in the making, the album finds the trio — singer Jamie Leffler, guitarist-vocalist Robert Cepeda and drummer Daniel Vanchieri — working through the emotions of tenuous relationships, growing up and, for Leffler, coming to grips, years later, with the death of her father, former Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ bassist Howie Epstein, who died of a heroin overdose when she was 14. The album’s release date comes on what would have been his 62nd birthday.
The pulse-quickening “Bloodshot Eyes,” Leffler says, was written during a time “I was stuck in what seemed an endless cycle going nowhere, super frustrated with where I was in life, and didn’t know how to change it. I kept making the same decisions and expecting different results, which is pretty much the definition of insanity. The song stands as a reminder to myself to create my own fate and not let fear govern my decisions.” With Cepeda chipping in with vocals and the guitars breaking the speed limit, Leffler sounds like she’s fully convinced herself that her troubles are “only a state of mind.”
The album, by the way, closes with a guest appearance by Leffler’s stepmother, Carlene Carter, who sings on a cover of Anita Carter’s 1960s chestnut “As The Sparrow Goes.”
||| Stream: “Bloodshot Eyes”