Tag: Death Valley Girls

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Death Valley Girls Release a Joyful Children’s TV-Inspired Visual for “Little Things”

Throughout this site’s almost 11-year history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls. Currently featuring the band’s 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, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history — and yet throughout their history, the band’s overall aesthetic and sound has generally been indebted to The Manson Family, B movie theatrics and the occult.

Last year was a rather busy year for the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays: They started off the year with the two-song, 7 inch EP Breakthrough, an EP which featured a cover of  Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song the band originally discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian psych act The Funkees.  Continuing upon the momentum of Breakthrough EP, the JOVM mainstays’ longtime label home Suicide Squeeze Records released their fourth album Under the Spell of Joy late last year.

The album deriving its title from a the text on a t-shirt that the San Diego-based heavy psych rock act Joy gave to Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden, who wrote the shirt like a talisman ov er the course of the next five years. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!”

Interestingly, with their fourth album, the band sought to make a spiritual record — what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel” — with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship: Much of the album’s material is centered around chants, choirs and rousing choruses, written with the expressed purpose of encouraging people to sing and shout along. Unlike their previously released material, which found the band connecting to listeners in esoteric means, the album’s material sees the band attempting to tap into an age-old tradition fo connecting with people by inviting them to actively participate with them.

Although Bloomgarden and Schemel knew their intention for the album’s material before they had written a single note, the nature and direction of the music was initially inspired by the Ethiopian funk records they had been listening to while touring — but once they began playing and recording the material they had written, the music, which they claim came from tapping into their subconscious seemed to come from the future. 

Last year, I wrote about three album singles:

The Universe,” an expansive and mind-bending track which featured elements of shoegaze and  Pink Floyd-like psych rock.
“Hold My Hand,” a euphoric track that evokes the swooning sensation of new love — and the urge to improve oneself through deep, personal reflection.
“Under the Spell of Joy,” a hallucinogenic fever dream that’s a rock ‘n’ roll take on the good news, gospel stomp that sonically is a seamless synthesis of part Fun House-era The Stooges, acid-tinged psych rock, Giant Steps-era Coltrane.

“Little Things” Under the Spell of Joy’s fourth and latest single is an ebullient and upbeat take on jangle rock centered around a shout along worthy hook. And at its core, the song is a gently smiling reminder that when life turns shitty — which is more often than not — that you should focus on the little things: in fact, sometimes your dreams can be what keeps you sane. “We wrote ‘Little Things’ for a friend of ours, who has been fighting for his life in physical pain for years,” Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “While we talked about how stinky his health and living situation was, he realized how much he still loved dreaming. We both realized that if he shifted his focus to the part of his life he loved — even if it was just when he was dreaming/daydreaming, that was perfectly ok! Focus on the little things!”

Directed by The Little Ghost/Kelsey Hart, the recently released video for “Little Things” is a psychedelic fever dream inspired by children’s TV shows — and it captures the song’s infectious, child-like joy.

“My aim for this video was to reflect the unbridled hope and joy of ‘Little Things,'” The Little Ghost explains. “Bonnie and I discuss our dreams daily, so I wanted to create a cartoonish psychedelic dreamscape that invited everyone to dance, sing, and revel in the optimism of daydreaming! In order to keep the production of this video maximally Covid-safe, I used special effects to bring Death Valley Girls together digitally. I was inspired by Teletubbies, public access TV, and Tony Oursler.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays L.A. Witch Return with a Badass Biker Movie Influenced Visual

With the release of 2017’s self-titled debut, 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) — quickly established their sound and aesthetic: jangling, reverb-drenched guitar rock seemingly influenced by including late 50s-early 60s rock, The Pleasure Seekers, The Sonics, The Black Angels, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and others, that simultaneously drew comparisons to fellow JOVM mainstays The Coathangers, Sharkmuffin 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 last year’s sophomore album Play With Fire, they felt that they needed a new strategy.

Between their touring schedule, studio availability and the timeline for releasing an album last year, the members of L.A. Witch only had two months to write Play With Fire. The trio holed up during January and February — right before March’s mandatory COVID-19 related lockdowns put the entire world on pause. “As far the creative process goes, this record is a result of sheer willingness to write,” L.A. Witch’s Sade Sanchez said 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.”

Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence but while not being a complete reinvention either. And thematically, the album may arguably be their most sobering work of their catalog to date. “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.”

Last year, I wound up writing about two of Play With Fire’s singles:

“Gen-Z,”a scuzzy and expansive, beer add whiskey field rockabilly blues that seethes with dissatisfaction and frustration.
“True Believers,” a deceptive return to from with a subtle post-punk leaning that brings JOVM mainstays Ganser to mind; but much like its predecessor, “True Believers” it’s centered around a seething disgust over a morally bankrupt world — and a paradigm that needs too die.

Play With Fire’s latest single “Motorcycle Boy” is one part Phil Spector Wall of Sound production, one part Dum Dum Girls and one part scuzzy power chord-driven psych rock delivered with a sultry and badass air. “The song is inspired by Moto Boys like Mickey Rourke, Marlon Brando, and Steve McQueen, so of course we took a lot of inspiration from our favorite biker movies like The Wild One, Rumble Fish, On Any Sunday, Easy Rider, Hells Angels ’69 and The Girl on a Motorcycle,” L.A. Witch’s Sadie Sanchez explains,. ” I had worked with (director) Ambar Navarro and Max on another project and loved their other work, so we wanted to work with them on this. They definitely did their homework and came up with a cool story line. I got to feature my bike that I’d been rebuilding during the pandemic. It was nice to shoot a video where you get to do two of your favorite things, riding motorcycles and play guitar.”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls. The act, which currently features 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 UpThe Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps’ Laura Kelsey can trace their origins back to over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Interestingly, despite the fact that the band has had a series of lineup changes thrhgout their history, the band’s aesthetic and sound has been generally indebted to The Manson Family, B movie theatrics and the occult.

2020 has been a very busy year for the JOVM mainstays: Earlier this year, the band released the two song, seven-inch EP Breakthrough, an effort that saw the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays covering two songs that have a profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment. One of the songs included on the EP was  Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song the band originally discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian psych act The Funkees.  The Death Valley Girls’ cover leans more towards The Funkees’ version — thanks to grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ lines and an in-your-face, combative chorus — but all three versions are centered around the age-old desire to be free from prisons — both literal and figurative.

Continuing upon the momentum of Breakthrough EP, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays will be releasing their newest album Under the Spell of Joy through their longtime label home Suicide Squeeze Records on October 2, 2020. The album’s title is derived from the text on at-shirt that the San Diego-based heavy psych rock act Joy gave to Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden. Bloomgarden regularly wore the shirt constantly over the next five years, treating it like a talisman. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!”

With Under the Spell of Joy, the members of the Death Valley Girls sough to make a spiritual record — what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel” — with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship. And as a result, the album’s material is generally centered around chants, choirs and rousing choruses, written with the purpose of encouraging people to sing along. Where the band had once sought to connect people through more esoteric means, Spell of Joy finds them tapping into an age-old tradition of uniting people by inviting them to be an active participant.

Although Bloomgarden and Schemel knew their intention for the album’s material before they had written a single note, the nature and direction of the music was initially inspired by the Ethiopian funk records they had been listening to while touring — but once they began playing and recording the material they had written, the music, which they claim came from tapping into their subconscious seemed to come from the future.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the slow-burning and expansive, Wish You Were-era Pink Floyd-like “The Universe,” which featured elements of shoegaze and classic psych rock — and the straightforward and soaring “Hold My Hand,” a track that evoked the swoon of new love, and the urge to improve oneself through deep personal reflection. Interestingly, Under the Spell of Joy‘s third and latest single, album title track “Under the Spell of Joy” is a hallucinogenic fever dream featuring chanted lyrics, fiery blasts of saxophone, enormous hooks and even bigger power chords. Seemingly one-part Fun House-era The Stooges, one-part acid-tinged psych rock, one-part Giant Steps-era Coltrane, the track is a rock”n’ roll take on the good news gospel stomp — while centered around an ebullient and mischievous joy.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Death Valley Girls Release a Feverish Visual for “Hold My Hand”

I’ve also spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls throughout the bulk of this site’s 10 year history.  The act which features 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 to over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums).  And despite the fact that they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band’s sound and aesthetic for much of their history has been heavily indebted to The Manson Family and B movie theatrics — while thematically concerned with the occult. 

Earlier this year, the longtime JOVM mainstays released a two song, seven-inch EP Breakthrough. The EP found the Los Angeles-based act covering two songs which have a deep and profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment. One of those songs was Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian psych act The Funkees.  While the Death Valley Girls’ cover leans more towards The Funkees’ version — thanks to grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ lines and an in-your-face, combative chorus — all three versions of the song evoke the age-old desire to be free from prisons both real and mental.

Although they’ve been unable to tour because of COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays have managed to make 2020 a busy year: Slated for an October 2, 2020 release through their longtime label home, Suicide Squeeze Records, the band’s forthcoming album Under the Spell of Joy derives its title from the text on a t-shirt that the San Diego-based heavy psych rock act Joy gave to Death Valley Girls’ Bloomgarden. As the story goes, Bloomgarden regularly wore the shirt constantly over the next five years, treating it like a talisman. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!”

With Under the Spell of Joy, the members of the Death Valley Girls sough to make a spiritual record — what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel” — with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship. And as a result, the album’s material is generally centered around chants, choirs and rousing choruses, written with the purpose of encouraging people to sing along. Where the band had once sought to connect people through more esoteric means, Spell of Joy finds them tapping into an age-old tradition of uniting people by inviting them to be an active participant.

Although Bloomgarden and Schemel knew their intention for the album’s material before they had written a single note, the nature and direction of the music was initially inspired by the Ethiopian funk records they had been listening to while touring — but once they began playing and recording the material they had written, the music, which they claim came from tapping into their subconscious seemed to come from the future. Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about Under the Spell of Joy’s first single, the slow-burning. expansive and yearning “The Universe,” a track which seemed to simultaneously nod at Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd, 60s psych rock and shoegaze. 

Under the Spell of Joy’s second and latest single “Hold My Hand” is simultaneously a return to form and arguably one of the album’s seemingly more straightforward songs: centered around stomping drums, reverb drenched guitars, soaring organs and a rousingly anthemic hook, the song evokes both the urgent swoon of new love, as well as the urge to improve upon oneself deep personal reflection and through love. 

“Relationships are really tricky and can be super messy and complicated! I used to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again,” Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “I realized it’s cause I thought relationships were an agreement you made with another person. And that meant giving away my power to the other person and letting them navigate our way along our path. Then I realized things either happen to you or for you! Any relationship you have is an opportunity to make an agreement with yourself! It’s a chance to learn to be more compassionate and to grow stronger and more powerfully into the person you want to be and are meant to be! Hopefully, the other person will help along the way and grow with you! If not, peace and next, please.”

Curated by Andi Avery and Kate E. Hinshaw, the recently released video for “Hold My Hand” features painted film by a collection of artists. The end result is a visual that’s lysergic, urgent and feverish.  

Over the past handful of years, I’ve managed to write 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 as you may recall, 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 —but 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 felt that 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.”

Play With Fire finds the band pushing their sound forward with a muscular insistence but while not being a complete reinvention of their sound. Thematically, the album may arguably be their most sobering, serious work of their catalog to date. “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.”

Last month, I wrote about “Gen-Z,” a scuzzy and expansive, beer and whiskey fueled rockabilly blues that seethes with the sort of dissatisfaction and frustration that feels like our contemporary zeitgeist. “True Believers,” Play With Fire‘s latest single is a deceptive return to form. Sounding as though it could have been a single off their full-length debut, the track possesses an urgent post funk feel that subtly nods at JOVM mainstay Ganser — while possessing a seething disgust over everything. It evokes the recognition that we live in a morally bankrupt world; a world and paradigm that needs to die.

“‘True Believers’ is about being overwhelmed with the constant stream of news and information we see everyday,” L.A. Witch’s Sanchez explains in press notes. “It’s about feeling anger and frustration with the state of the world. In a way, the track mocks the All Lives Matter culture that has come to fruition in the U.S.

“At times when you’re traveling around and meeting new people, you get into conversations about social matters and different political standpoints. A lot of people don’t believe they have any power over the matters concerning them, and that can be frustrating. It can be difficult for people to see themselves having an actual impact with what we’re all facing in the world today, all you can really do is take it day by day, lead by example, and know that any and all change starts with you. It’s important to always believe in who you are, even through all the chaos.”

 

New Video: Frankie and the Witch Fingers Release a Menacing and Trippy Visual for Mind-Bending “Sweet Freak”

Currently featuring core trio Dylan Sizemore (vocals), multi-instrumentalist Josh Menashe and Shaughnessy Starr (drums), the Los Angeles-based psych rock act Frankie and the Witch Fingers can trace their origins back to their formation about a decade ago in Bloomington, IN. Since the band’s formation the band has developed and honed a reputation for restless experimentation, multiple permutations and a high-powered, scuzzy take on psych rock, centered around absurdist lyrical imagery — fueled by hallucinations, paranoia and lust. And as a result, the band’s material manages to be simultaneously playful and menacing. 

With the addition of Shaughnessy Starr, the Los Angeles-based psych rock act went through another sonic mutation that resulted in a lysergic and claustrophobic sound — while further relying on their penchant for Black Sabbath-style riffage. Building upon a growing profile, the members of the Los Angeles-based act has opened for the likes of JOVM mainstays Thee Oh Sees, Cheap Trick and ZZ Top. 

Written while on the road, the act’s forthcoming album Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters . . . is slated for an October 2, 2020 release through Greenway Records and Levitation Festival’s label The Reverberation Appreciation Society. Recorded in a breakneck five day recording session, the highly-anticipated follow up to ZAM, Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters finds the band taking the turbulence of its immediate predecessor and making the material much more insidious, evil and ambitious while capturing the band in the midst of massive personnel changes — longtime bassist Alex Bulli left the band, and as a result the band’s Menashe wrote and played most of the material’s bass parts with occasional contributions from Dylan Sizemore. Much like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Infest the Rats Nest, Frankie and the Witch Fingers’ forthcoming album sees the band crafting expansive, maximalist material — with fewer moving parts. (Interestingly, Death Valley Girls’ Nikki Pickle will join the band as a touring member.) 

“Sweat Freak,” Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters . . .’s latest single features crunchy, power chord-driven riffs, punchily delivered yet surrealistic lyrics and explosive horn blasts within an expansive, constantly morphing and expansive song structure. Sonically, the result is a song that’s one part King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard one part Stooges and one part Tool-like prog rock with a menacing and malicious air. 

Done by Spaghetti Jesus, the recently released claymation video for “Sweat Freak” features trippy visual effects by Slob Dylan and 2D animation by Mitchell Zeni — and the video is centered around monstrous aliens performing weird and bloody experiments on people and each other.  It’s hilariously disturbing and absolutely brilliant. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Death Valley Girls Release an Ebullient and Soaring New Single

Throughout the bulk of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve also spilled quite a bit of virtual ink cover the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls. Featuring core and 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, the JOVM mainstays can trace their origins back to over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). And although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band’s sound and aesthetic for much of their history was heavily indebted by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics — while thematically focused on the occult. 

Last month, the longtime JOVM mainstays and Suicide Squeeze Records, released a two song, seven-inch EP Breakthrough. The EP found the Los Angeles-based act covering two songs which have a deep and profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment, including  Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian psych act The Funkees.  While the Death Valley Girls cover leans more towards The Funkees’ version — thanks to a grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ chords and an in-your-face, combative chorus — all three versions of the song evoke the age-old desire to be free from prisons both real and mental. 

Although they’ve been unable to tour because of COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays have managed to make 2020 a busy year: Slated for an October 2, 2020 release through their longtime label home, the band’s forthcoming album Under the Spell of Joy derives its title from the text on a t-shirt that the San Diego-based heavy psych rock act Joy gave to Death Valley Girls’ Bloomgarden. As the story goes, Bloomgarden regularly wore the shirt constantly over the next five years, treating it like a talisman. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!”

With Under the Spell of Joy, the members of the Death Valley Girls sough to make a spiritual record — what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel” — with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship. And as a result, the album’s material is generally centered around chains, choirs and rousing choruses, written with the purpose of encouraging people to sing along. Where the band had once sought to connect people through more esoteric means, Spell of Joy finds them tapping into an age-old tradition of uniting people by inviting them to be an active participant. 

Although Bloomgarden and Schemel knew their intention for the album’s material before they had written a single note, the nature and direction of the music was initially inspired by the Ethiopian funk records they had been listening to while touring — but once they began playing and recording the material they had written, the music, which they claim came from tapping into their subconscious seemed to come from the future. 

centered around soaring and soulful saxophone, shimmering keyboard arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, a propulsive bass line and a shout along worthy chorus, “The Universe,” Under the Spell of Joy’s first single is a slow-burning and expansive song with a cosmic sheen that yearns and arches itself into a higher — and seemingly lysergic — plane of existence. Simultaneously nodding at Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd, 60s psych rock and shoegaze, the song bristles with a mischievous and ebullient joy that’s infectious. 

“The world is crazy right now and it feels like we should be doing more than just trying to perpetuate joy,” Bloomgarden says. “I think music becomes a part of you. Like Black Sabbath’s first record is as much a part of me as my own music. I think you can listen to music or song to get lost in it, or you can listen to music to find something in your self or the world that either you never had or just went missing. I want people to sing to this record, make it their own, and focus on manifesting their dreams as much as they can!” 

Directed by Bradley Hale, the recently released video for “The Universe” is a collage of newspaper and magazine clippings featuring occult and horror films, astral projection, UFOs and abductions and psychedelic blasts of color. And all of it centered around the desire to seek something beyond oneself, beyond their limited plane of existence and knowledge. 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the Seattle-based indie act The Grizzled Mighty —  Ryan Granger (vocals, guitar), Jojo Braley (drums) and Jewel Loree (bass)  — have developed and maintained a reputation for crafting fuzzy and dirty, garage rock-tinged psych rock, influenced by The Stooges, T. Rex, Motorhead and others — and sweaty, high energy live shows. Building upon a growing profile, the members of The Grizzled Mighty have shared bills with The Dandy Warhols, Built to Spill, Death Valley Girls, Andrew WK, and a list of others.

The band’s third album Confetti Teeth is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Freakout Records — and from the album’s first single “Rewind” is a Nirvana and Ecstatic Vision-like take on psych rock: layers of fuzzy and distortion pedaled power chords, a fiery and explosive guitar solo, propulsive and thunderous drumming, enormous hooks and howled vocals meant to be played loud.