Tag: The Funkees Breakthrough

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.  

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. 

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.