Category: garage rock

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based garage rock trio and JOVM mainstays L.A. Witch — Sade Sanchez (lead vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass, backing vocals) and Ellie English (drums) — and with the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s self-titled effort, the band quickly established a jangling reverb-drenched guitar rock sound that drew from a number of sources, including late 50s-early 60s rock,  The Pleasure SeekersThe SonicsThe Black AngelsThe Brian Jonestown Massacre and others —while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay artists like  The CoathangersSharkmuffin and Death Valley Girls.

The members of L.A. Witch have readily admitted that the writing and recording sessions for their self-titled album was a casual affair — with the album’s material coming together over the course of several years. The natural and seemingly effortless creative flow hit a snag when the band’s profile and popularity grew and they began touring regularly. So when the trio got together to write and record their forthcoming sophomore album Play With Fire, they needed a new strategy.

Between their touring schedule, studio availability and the timeline for releasing an album this year, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of the writing for Play With Fire‘s material. The trio holed up during January and February for the writing process — before March’s mandatory COVID-19 related shutdowns across the world. “As far the creative process goes, this record is a result of sheer willingness to write,” L.A. Witch’s Sade Sanchez says in press notes. “When you sit down and make things happen, they will happen, rather than waiting to be inspired. ”The time constraints and tightly focused writing sessions forced the band into new territories. “I’ve definitely learned that having restrictions forces you to think outside the box,” the band’s Irita Pai says,. ““That structure really brings about creativity in an unexpected and abundant way.”

Essentially Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence — and while thematically, it may be some of their more sobering, serious work, the album isn’t a complete reinvention of their sound either. “Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.”

Play With Fire‘s latest single “Gen-Z” is a scuzzy, expansive, beer and whiskey fueled bit of garage psych rock centered around reverb-drenched jangle, thunderous drumming, Sanchez’s sneering vocals and some enormous hooks. And while being one of the most ambitious songs the JOVM mainstays have crafted, it seethes

“Gen Z,” Play With Fire‘s latest single is a whiskey fueled rockabilly-like blues, centered around reverb-drenched jangle, thunderous drumming, enormous hooks and Sanchez’s smoky and snarling delivery — but unlike their previously released material “Gen-Z” finds the JOVM mainstays seething with dissatisfaction and frustration that just feels like it perfectly encapsulates our contemporary zeitgeist.

“‘GEN-Z’ is inspired by a series of articles mentioning the high rates of suicide amongst the Gen-Z due to the pressures of social media,” Sade Sanchez explains. “At the same time I read about several music companies not doing well due to lack of interest in people to learn to play instruments. When I was a kid, music and guitar was my escape. Music was how I fought through my depressions. What will the future do to get through it? With constant pressure to be perfect and information/advertisements and brainwashing constantly being shoved in your face, you become a product of your environment. ‘GEN-Z’ is about being a slave to technology, specifically to our phones.” 

 

 

 

Suicide Squeeze Records · Death Valley Girls – Breakthrough

Throughout the bulk of this site’s ten year history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink writing about the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Death Valley Girls — founding duo Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Alana Amram (bass), Laura Harris (drums), Shannon Lay, members of The Make Up, The Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps‘ Laura Kelsey — can trace their origins back well over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the JOVM’s sound and aesthetic for much of their history was influenced by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics while thematically focusing on the occult.

Slated for a June 12, 2020 release through their longtime home, Suicide Squeeze Records, the band’s two-song seven-inch EP Breakthrough finds the JOVM mainstays covering two songs that have a deep and profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment: The EP’s first single is a cover of Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian act The Funkees.  Centered around grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ chords and an in-your-face, combative chorus, the Death Valley Girls cover, leans more towards The Funkees’ cover and although all three versions manage to hew closely to their long-held aesthetic, the song also manages to be remarkably contemporary, as it evokes an age-old desire to be free from all kinds of prisons, both real and mental.

The band was drawn to something far deeper than its melody and sound. “It spoke to me because of the lyrics about breaking free from an invisible prison… we all have invisible or visible prisons we are trapped in,” the band’s Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes. Interestingly, the song’s discovery coincided with the band’s interest in The West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols and his ability to endure his lengthy imprisonment by learning to astral project through meditation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays High Waisted Return with a Mischievous and Brightly Colored Visual for Achingly Vulnerable “Modern Love”

Founded back in 2014 by co-founder  Jessica Louise Dye (vocals, guitar) and Jono Bernstein (drums),  New York-based JOVM mainstays High Waisted have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from surf rock, garage rock, dream pop, Riot Grrl punk and punk rock, for a high-energy live show and their popular DIY concert showcase/booze cruise High Waisted at Sea.

The band’s Bryan Pugh-produced full-length debut On Ludlow further cemented their reputation for scuzzy, party ’til you drop rock — but just under the surface, the material revealed vulnerability and ache.  The JOVM mainstays spent most of 2016 and 2017 on a relentless tour schedule across the country opening for the likes of Brazilian Girls, Shannon and the Clams, Titus Andronicus, The Donkeys, Har Mar Superstar, JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, Jessica Hernandez, La Sera, Diarrhea Planet and La Luz, as well Riot Fest in both Chicago and Denver.

The JOVM mainstays have received praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Noisey, Paste, NME, who named them a “Buzz Band to Watch”  GQ, who declared them “The Ultimate Party Band” and they were named one of the buzziest bands of SXSW in 2018 and 2019 — all of which have helped to firmly cement their long-held reputation for being a non-stop party machine, while going through a series of lineup changes.

Since the release of On Ludlow, the the band contributed “Firebomb,” a scuzzy, ass-kicking, power chord-driven Lita Ford and Motley Crüe-like single to a split single with The Coax, which they supported with further relentless touring with Hundred Hounds, Beechwood and others.

Despite being badly injured in a car accident while biking in NYC last summer, Dye, Bernstein and company have remaining rather busy: they appeared in a NYLON feature, contributed to a Record Store Day release compilation with Bikini Kill, Lenny Kaye, and Atmosphere, wrote a song for NPR’s More Perfect and were featured on their podcast, played a headline show at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and wrapped up their successful  High Waisted at Sea booze cruise and showcase, released four music videos on Left Bank Magazine  — and completed work on their highly anticipated sophomore album Sick of Being Sorry.

Slated for a May 22, 2020 release, the JOVM mainstay’s sophomore album continues their ongoing collaboration with Tad Kubler — and thematically, the album focuses on finding hope in hopeless situations and having the strength to get up after being knocked down and having the world scream at you to stay down. Now, as you may recall, earlier this month, I wrote about album opener “Boys Can’t Dance,” a rousing, party anthem centered around a plucky, heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness while further establishing the sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere: a seamless hook-driven mix of surf rock, Riot Grrl punk, dream pop, garage rock and 60s pop. 

“Modern Love” Sick of Being Sorry’s latest single features a surf pop-like arrangement of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a strutting bass line and propulsive drumming   — and while continuing in a similar sonic vein as its immediate predecessor, the song may arguably be one of the most achingly vulnerable and tender songs in their growing catalog. Much like all love songs, “Modern Love” is centered around longing that familiar desperate longing for that object of affection but with the recognition that love in any and all forms is a sort of surrender to something other than yourself. But there’s an underlying irony to the song: love ain’t easy, because it’s full of contradictions and often makes very little sense. And as a result, you have to figure out a way to be protect yourself while figuring out how to remaining vulnerable and true to yourself. 

Directed by Jenni Lang and Logan Seaman, the recently released video for “Modern Love” is a mischievous mix of live action and brightly colored and lysergic animation and imagery as we follow the band’s Jessica Louise Dye through a fantastic adventure. “Jenni found a quote that says ‘to love is to destroy and to be loved is to be destroyed.’ That really inspired us to write a story about love and power. Jess would be the heroine in the story, not only because she looks badass on the stage, but because she represents many modern women. As her character lives a happy and love-filled life, she encounters situations where she needs to step out of her comfort zone in order to protect her love. It’s a metaphor for modern love. You can’t just live happily ever after like in the movies. There are moments in which we struggle. It’s a journey of learning to be yourself, and most importantly to be brave.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Bobby Lees Return with a DIY Visual for an Explosive New Single

Over the past roughly two years, the rapidly rising Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act The Bobby Lees — Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Kendall Wind (bass), Nick Casa (lead guitar), and Macky Bowman (drums)  — have begun to receive attention for a feral and frenzied take on garage punk and an unpredictable live show. And as a result, the rising punk rock act has opened for the likes of The Black Lips, Murphy’s Law, Boss Hog, Future Islands, Daddy Long Legs, The Chats, and Shannon & The Clams. 

Originally slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Alive Naturalsounds Records, The Bobby Lees’ Jon Spencer-produced full-length album Skin Suit has been pushed back to July 17, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — but what still remains is that the album finds the band crafting forceful and self-assured material centered around some of the most blistering and dexterous guitar work I’ve heard this year. So far, I’ve written about three of the album’s singles, the breakneck and explosive “GutterMilk,” a feral and unhinged cover of f Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,”‘ that nods a bit at George Thorogood‘s famous cover but with a defiant, gender-bending boldness and the sweaty, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-like “Move.” 

“Drive,” Skin Suit’s fourth and latest single continues a run of grungy and gritty garage punk centered around enormous power chords, mosh pit friendly hooks and a remarkably self-assured delivery. For such a young band, they seem poised to take over the world — with a youthful brashness and zero fucks given air. 

The recently released video for “Drive” features the band performing the song in front of a divey tattoo parlor, and it should give the viewer a great sense of the band’s frenetic and unpredictable live energy. 

“A couple of months ago we were heading down to Austin, TX for SXSW and playing shows along the way,” the members of The Bobby Lees explain in press notes. “By the time we got to Tulsa, Oklahoma our 9 SXSW shows had been cancelled because of the virus. So we made the best of our time in Tulsa and shot a video with our friends, while keeping a safe distance.”

New Video: Join High Waisted on a Wild and Hilarious Party

Founded back in 2014 by Jessica Louise Dye (vocals, guitar) and Jono Bernstein (drums),  New York-based JOVM mainstays High Waisted have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from surf rock, garage rock, dream pop, Riot Grrl punk and punk rock, for a high-energy live show and their popular DIY concert showcase/booze cruise High Waisted at Sea.

The band’s Bryan Pugh-produced full-length debut On Ludlow further cemented their reputation for scuzzy, party ’til you drop rock — but just under the surface, the material revealed vulnerability and ache.  The JOVM mainstays spent most of 2016 and 2017 on a relentless tour schedule across the country opening for the likes of Brazilian Girls, Shannon and the Clams, Titus Andronicus, The Donkeys, Har Mar Superstar, JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, Jessica Hernandez, La Sera, Diarrhea Planet and La Luz, as well Riot Fest in both Chicago and Denver. 

The JOVM mainstays have received praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Noisey, Paste, NME, who named them a “Buzz Band to Watch”  GQ, who declared them “The Ultimate Party Band” and they were named one of the buzziest bands of SXSW in 2018 and 2019 — all of which have helped to firmly cement their long-held reputation for being a non-stop party machine, while going through a series of lineup changes.

Since the release of On Ludlow, the the band contributed “Firebomb,” a scuzzy, ass-kicking, power chord-driven Lita Ford and Motley Crüe-like single to a split single with The Coax, which they supported with further relentless touring with Hundred Hounds, Beechwood and others. 

Despite being badly injured in a car accident while biking in NYC last summer, Dye, Bernstein and company have remaining rather busy: they appeared in a NYLON feature, contributed to a Record Store Day release compilation with Bikini Kill, Lenny Kaye, and Atmosphere, wrote a song for NPR’s More Perfect and were featured on their podcast, played a headline show at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and wrapped up their successful  High Waisted at Sea booze cruise and showcase, released four music videos on Left Bank Magazine  — and completed work on their highly anticipated sophomore album Sick of Being Sorry. 

Slated for a May 22, 2020 release, the JOVM mainstay’s sophomore album continues their ongoing collaboration with Tad Kubler — and thematically, the album focuses on finding hope in hopeless situations and having the strength to get up after being knocked down and having the world scream at you to stay down. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album opener “Boys Can’t Dance” is a rousing party anthem that further establishes the sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere — a seamless and hook-driven mix of surf rock, Riot Grrl punk, dream pop, garage rock and 60s pop delivered with a swaggering self-assurance. And while displaying a slick and polished studio production, the track is centered around a plucky, heart-on-your-sleeve earnestness. 

“I had been cooped up for a long week of work and was really itching for a proper night out with my girlfriends,” High Waisted’s Jessica Louise Dye explains in press notes. “This song was ripped directly from my inner monologue; wanting to let my hair down, eager for the weekend and ready to do something I might regret. It’s an anthem for letting yourself have some much-deserved fun. That weekend, I remember noticing the dance floor was shared mostly by ladies, as the guys lined the perimeter. And I thought, ‘oh, these boys can’t dance because they have their hands in their pockets!’ There’s nothin more freeing than getting lost in your favorite song and letting your body wiggle, shake and twist, void of worry or insecurities in the middle of a crowded room. Everyone deserves to dance.” 

Directed by Zachary Wright, the recently released video follows a down-and-out working stiff protagonist (Paddy Connor), who returns home from a long and exhausting day at an office job for a depressing dinner of cold cereal. His roommate (High Waisted’s Jono Bernstein) heads out on a date with a stunningly gorgeous woman. And while we may initially think that our poor, downtrodden protagonist may wind up spending his night alone, we see him as he pumps himself up, rocks out to his favorite song and heads out to a bachelorette party for a bride-to-be (High Waisted’s Jessica Louise Dye). When he arrives, he’s understandably nervous and the bachelorette party is — well full of shock and ridicule. But our hero quickly builds up the courage to be completely uninhibited, which wins over the party. As the video suggests, we often have fun when we lose our inhibitions and dance the pain and sorrow away.