I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink over the course of the site’s 11+ year history covering Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls. Although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band — currently founding duo and primary songwriters Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar, keys) 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 quite literally trace its origins as a sort of safe haven for its founding duo, as they navigated the difficult path of getting clean from hard drugs.
Understandably, for Schemel and Bloomgarden, the band was a kind of rebirth for them, and an outlet for a new — perhaps clearer and cleaner — way of living. Their newfound appreciation for life, inspired a thirst for communal celebration. And their earliest shows wound up taking on a mystical fervor: While their overall aesthetic is influenced by The Manson Family, B movie theatrics and the occult, they paired that with adrenalized swagger, scuzzy garage rock and punk, without the hardened nihilism.
Featuring a lineup of Schemel, Bloomgarden, Laura “The Kid” Kelsey (drums) and Alana Amram (bass), the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ 2016 sophomore album Glow in the Dark was a jittery and jubilant barnburner centered around scuzzy guitar riffle, rousingly anthemic choral hooks and thunderous rhythms. Thematically, the album sees the band reveling in the secret bond held between misfits and outcasts, who openly refused to submit to the crushing weight of “capitalism, classism and elitism” with the album’s songs being a rallying cry to like-minded souls. “Once you realize that money, government, and this whole system is a shitty construct that doesn’t work and stands in the way of our true magical infinite potential, we start to glow,” The Death Valley Girls’ Bloomgarden says about the album. “And we can see everyone that believes ‘cause they glow too!”
Physical copies of Glow in the Dark have been unavailable with the album being out of print since 2016. But thankfully, the good folks at Suicide Squeeze Records will officially re-issue Death Valley Girls’ sophomore album on August 27, 2021: The album will be available on all the digital platforms — and as an initial vinyl pressing limited to 2,000 copies (1,500 on Unite, Multiply, & Conquer splatter vinyl, 500 on Little Ghost tri-color vinyl).
To celebrate the re-issue of Glow in the Dark, the band released a new video for album single “I’m a Man Too.” Centered around enormous and rousingly anthemic shout along worthy hooks, scuzz spattered power chords and a forcefully chugging rhythm section, “I’m a Man Too,” the song is a joyful and defiant anthem that calls for the end of societal ideals of gender and gender roles, pointing out that they’re complete restrictive bullshit.
“What it means to be a man and what we expect from a woman has negatively impacted all our lives. How we treat each other and ourselves shouldn’t be based on society’s ideals of gender!” Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes, “Everyone is a unique combination of feminine and masculine energy. It’s constantly changing. Somebody outside of you telling you how to be yourself is the most ridiculous and harmful thing I can imagine. You are a beautiful combination of many different things. Get to know yourself, be the most authentic you you can be. Label yourself if you wanna, don’t if you don’t, respect yourself and who everyone else is; that’s who they are!”
The recently released video by Cherry and edited by Little Ghost is a surreal and nightmarish makeup tutorial set to the song.