Track Of The Day: Death Valley Girls – ‘Little Things’

Death Valley Girls’ new video for ‘Little Things’, a track from their recent album Under the Spell of Joy, provides a determinedly optimistic slant on life’s difficulties. The track was inspired by a friend of the LA band’s response to living with chronic pain and the lyrics emphasise allowing ourselves to take respite and pleasure where we can – a theme with particular resonance at the moment. The accompanying video recalls the work of Michel Gondry: charming, DIY, and pleasingly absurd – a dreamscape of homemade clouds and singing moons. Director Kelsey Hart has clearly succeeded in the stated aim of “reflect[ing] the unbridled hope and joy” of the track.

Musically, the track recalls some of the band’s West Coast contemporaries. The lead guitar line, a shimmering surf melody, is reminiscent of Seattle’s La Luz while the rhythm section drives the song along like a sunnier Chastity Belt. And sunny is certainly the word for a song like this; everything from the lyrics to the chord progression – even the lightly up-tempo rhythm – seem specifically designed to put a smile on the listener’s face and a spring in their step. The chorus, where the rest of the band join lead singer Bonnie Bloomgarden on vocals, is nothing short of delightful.

On this basis, the band’s cosmically inspired album, Under The Spell Of Joy, released last year on Suicide Squeeze Records, is certainly worth delving further into. 

Gregory Metcalfe

Photo Credit: David Fearn

LISTEN: Death Valley Girls – ‘Under the Spell of Joy’

Inspired by the text on a t-shirt that Death Valley Girls‘ vocalist & guitarist Bonnie Bloomgarden was gifted from the heavy psych rock band Joy, ‘Under the Spell of Joy’ is the eponymous new single from the band’s upcoming album. Set for release on 2nd October via Suicide Squeeze, the L.A. rockers have shared the title track with the instructions to sing along to their “space gospel” sounds.

“The world is crazy right now, and it feels like we should be doing more than just trying to perpetuate joy,” Bloomgarden explains. This awareness and positivity inspired the band’s new single and record, both of which are filled with psych-rock riffs and chant-worthy lyrics. “There is a lot to be really angry about…but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!” she continues, and that’s what Death Valley Girls’ have channelled their energy into. With its stomping beats and rallying vocals, their new track is a celebration of the universe and all it has to offer (even though that doesn’t feel like much at the moment.)

Listen to ‘Under the Spell of Joy’ below and follow Death Valley Girls on bandcampFacebook and Spotify for more updates.

Photo credit: David Fearn

Kate Crudgington

LISTEN: Death Valley Girls – ‘Hold My Hand’

A fuzzy, energetic dive into discovering yourself whilst you’re getting to know someone else, L.A. rockers Death Valley Girls have shared their latest single ‘Hold My Hand’. Lifted from their new album Under the Spell of Joy, which is set for release on 2nd October via Suicide Squeeze Records, the track is full of slick guitar riffs, rolling beats and fiery vocals.

Fuelled by a desire to turn rage and sadness into joy and compassion, Death Valley Girls craft edgy, cosmic rock and roll tunes that blast away feelings of angst and apathy. On ‘Hold My Hand’ the girls revel in the fact that “you gotta let go and believe” if you’re going to be your whole self when entering into a new relationship. Vocalist & guitarist Bonnie Bloomgarden explains further:

“Relationships are really tricky and can be super messy and complicated! I used to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. 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.”

That’s a sentiment we agree with here at GIHE! Listen to ‘Hold My Hand’ below and follow Death Valley Girls on bandcamp, Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: David Fearn

Kate Crudgington

EP: Death Valley Girls – ‘Breakthrough’

Los Angeles five-piece Death Valley Girls have made their name in evoking a certain kind of late ’60s/early ’70s rock and roll – the point where the raw power of The Stooges and the MC5 meets the horror glam of The New York Dolls and The Cramps, with a hefty dose of the era’s psych flavour laid on-top. 

But one of the lesser known outfits of the period – or certainly, where this writer is concerned – is Atomic Rooster, an offshoot of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, whose track ‘Breakthrough’ is being covered here. And even though that would normally be on-trend for DVG, the song actually found them via a cover by ’70s Nigerian rockers The Funkees. If that wasn’t circuitous enough, the single’s PR also cites the band’s contact with Damien Echols as another inspiration for the EP of the same name – specifically the development of his powers as a magician, master meditator and expert on astral projection, whilst serving eighteen years on death row, when wrongfully convicted as part of the West Memphis Three.

That complexity aside, the track is a rip-snorter. Initially built around a full minute of pulsing organ chord and riff-tastic guitars, the song really kicks into gear with lead singer Bonnie Bloomgarden’s vocals, echoey and ethereal, but powerful with it. Its chorus verges on stadium anthemic, with the phrase “I gotta make a breakthrough!” on repeat, before the word “NOW!” brings in its middle eight organ reprise and funky guitar licks. 

At a full five minutes and twenty-six seconds, this is no latter-day to-the-point banger, but the kind of old-style garage rawk experience that you can really live in, with a rhythm section that starts simple but builds in intensity towards its crescendo close. Its foot-stomping is most reminiscent of fellow psych-revivalists GOAT – perhaps unsurprising given that both bands have come to their sound via Afro-rock – although here it’s served with a quintessential US growl and underscored by a mix of Cali trippiness and Southern fried fretwork.

The reference to Echols’ experience is made pretty clear by the song’s lyrics, with their reference to breaking out of the prisons, both visible and invisible, in which we find ourselves.

The EP’s other side is another cover, albeit from a very different source. Having gigged briefly with the late alt-indie great Daniel Johnston, DVG have covered his ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll / EGA’ from the 1994 album Fun by way of a tribute. 

Clearly, for the group, there’s an emotional resonance to both tracks and it’s no coincidence, perhaps, that the EP’s release comes at a time when individuals are looking for sweet relief at a difficult time. The Johnston song, with its refrain of “That rock n roll / It saved my soul”, coupled with the EP’s title track, is a clear indicator of where Death Valley Girls currently find themselves – looking back to the past, for some guidance of where to go next. A little bit of retro-rock might just be what we all need to break through.


Breakthrough is out today via Suicide Squeeze Records. Order here. Or listen on Spotify.

John McGovern

Photo Credit: Abby Banks