Five Favourites: Death Valley Girls

Having been big fans of LA’s Death Valley Girls for a few years now, I’m super excited to hear that they will be announcing their new album, Islands In The Sky, at the end of the month. Our second taster from the upcoming release (following 2021’s ‘It’s All Really Kind Of Amazing’) comes in the form of truly dreamy new single, ‘Sunday‘. Oozing a glistening, ethereal splendour, ‘Sunday’ offers a sweeping slice of anthemic, soul-strewn psych-rock. Building with a fizzing energy, it harks back to the psychedelic sounds of the ’70s California scene, whilst showcasing the bands’ ability to create something that is utterly unique. A beautifully immersive trip into the cosmic world of Death Valley Girls.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of the upcoming album, we caught up with Death Valley Girls’ front woman Bonnie Bloomgarden to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. So, read about her five favourite ever albums, and check out the wonderfully trippy new video for ‘Sunday’ below!

Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda
Did you know music is allowed to sound like this? And has the ability to affect your entire existence? To reframe your view of consciousness and reality. To massage your light, and your soul with in. To feed you, the you inside your body!! To take your earth body, gently lie it down, turn it off for the time being, and lead your spirit to a journey in the astral realm?? It is, it can, and with Alice Coltrane it often does! 

Otis Redding – Pain in My Heart
Wow, I could not imagine my world with out this record. I cry every time I listen to ‘These Arms of Mine’ – chills go down my spine and I remember I am alive, and it’s good ‘cause I getta feel things like this. His voice is epic, on the top ten most important voices of all time to me. It’s hard to imagine what a break up would feel like with out this record – I wouldn’t know, cause I’ve never tried!

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Without pause, even for a fraction of an instant, my all time favourite album is Black Sabbath’s first record. Up until the point I miraculously chose Black Sabbath from a stack of nearly 50 rock and roll records my cousin gave to me, I had only heard soft music. I am forever grateful to all the music I’ve heard, but I had primarily listened to what I know now to be goofy in the scope of my current taste. Like for my first ten years, I exclusively heard show tunes, Billy Joel, vocal jazz, and the Indigo Girls. Before that was all piano, orchestral, and acoustic guitar driven music. To hear electric guitar, in all its evil glory, by the God that is Tony Iommi, for the first time!! Can you imagine at ten how deviant that felt! Also, for the first time to truly understand instrumentation. Getting to know each and every single note by those master musicians! I can not imagine where I would be, or what I would think a great bass line, or guitar riff, or vocal melody, or drum part is, if not for that divine record.
Black Sabbath!! Black Sabbath!! Black Sabbath!!

Ronnie SpectorUnfinished Business
First of all, the concept of being the original bad girl of rock and roll could not have been any more exciting to me as a kid! I love Ronnie, and what she stood for, and how she stood for it – way back when, when it was practically impossible to do so. Her voice, her wickedness, her unapologetic nuances and phrasing, mixed with her immaculate harmonies… Oh my goodness. She also was considered one of the boys, and got to tour with the Stones and Beatles, what career highlights! RIP Ronnie!!

Iggy Pop – The Idiot
What an amazing story and collaboration! Only this type of decadence and decay could have been created by Bowie and Iggy trying to get clean from drugs in Berlin. We are so lucky for this type of art. Something that seems as though it could have just as easily never made it to the light of day. And yet, it did. And it is pure, raw, unadulterated fun, mixed with the suffering they must have been feeling between their realities. Very grateful for these two, and their collaborations!! 


Must add as all time greatest influences:

  1. Tina Turner 
  2. Aretha Franklin 
  3. Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  4. Lightning Hopkins

Massive thanks to Bonnie for sharing her Five Favourites (and more!) with us! Watch the new video, directed by Arturo Baston, here:

Islands In The Sky, the upcoming new album from Death Valley Girls, is set for release on 24th February via Suicide Squeeze Records – pre-order here. And catch Death Valley Girls live when they’re over in the UK later month – more info here.

Photo Credit: Neto Velasco

New Track: Death Valley Girls – ‘Sunday’

Having been big fans of LA’s Death Valley Girls for a few years now, I’m super excited to hear that they will be announcing their new album at the end of next month. Our second taster from the upcoming release (following 2021’s ‘It’s All Really Kind Of Amazing’) comes in the form of truly dreamy new single, ‘Sunday‘.

Oozing a glistening, ethereal splendour, ‘Sunday’ offers a sweeping slice of anthemic, soul-strewn psych-rock. Building with a fizzing energy, it harks back to the psychedelic sounds of the ’70s California scene, whilst showcasing the bands’ ability to create something that is utterly unique. Reflecting on the process of addressing your pain and being honest with yourself, it’s a beautifully immersive trip into the cosmic world of Death Valley Girls; stepping away from some of their previous scuzz-filled post-punk offerings, but no less stirring. So, bathe in ‘Sunday’s blissful haze as Bonnie Bloomgarden’s distinctive impassioned vocals ripple throughout this uplifting shimmering soundscape.

Of the track, Bloomgarden expands:

Recently I realized I have been numbing, medicating, intellectualizing, and avoiding my pain and feelings for most of my life. Over the past few years I learned you have to feel and move through your feelings or they get stuck, and then you become a vessel or container for all the feelings you are trying to avoid! If you acknowledge, feel, and process them, you get to release and move them out of you! This song is to honor that process! Feel your feelings, be so sad you wanna cry forever, and then move on, you gotta keep moving!”

‘Sunday’ is accompanied by a wonderfully trippy, animated, Alice-In-Wonderland-inspired video, directed by Arturo Baston. Watch here:

Islands In The Sky, the upcoming new album from Death Valley Girls, is set for release on 24th February via Suicide Squeeze Records – pre-order here. And catch Death Valley Girls live when they’re over in the UK next month – more info here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Neto Velasco

WATCH: Death Valley Girls – ‘Sanitarium Blues’

Death Valley Girls’ new video for ‘Sanitarium Blues’ is taken from the LA band’s soon-to-be re-issued debut album Street Venom and provides the perfect psychedelic back-drop to the dystopian doom-rockers’ take on honest suffering. The track flew onto paper following vocalist Bonnie Bloomgarden’s stay at a professional institution amidst a serious battle with her mental health. The revival of this track as an uplifting and life-affirming reminder that there will be better days could not be better timed.

The release of a new video for this single serves as the perfect throwback to the LA-based group’s most authentic and direct work. The new video, directed by Wiktor Lekston, captures the band’s intention to depict a mental episode as an out-of-body experience through a mixture of surreal and hallucinogenic inspirations. This is produced through a series of repeated fuzzy holographic images created in analog and intensified by the feedback signals. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is you’re looking at – everything from skeletons and non-lifelike faces, through to what appears to be memories merged with dreams, have been compared by Lektston to the “POST-MTV’s clips from the ’80s.” The band’s aim to visually capture an astral projection, without necessarily directly conveying that to the audience, is a huge success.

Scuzzy guitars from Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel, married with a transcendent use of reverb and delay as the chords ring out throughout the verse, provokes an apocalyptic and lucid-dream state in the mind of the listener. We’re then thrown into a starkly contrasting chorus filled with propelling riffs and a deliberately sinister beat from Patty Schemel on the kit that confines us; it’s claustrophobic, lonely and the perfect sonic portrayal of how isolating a mental illness can truly be. BUT it’s not all gloom from the doom-punk outfit, as there is hope and reassurance in this track’s honesty and also in Bloomgarden’s message ahead of the re-issue:

Life is hard, but you are not meant to suffer… There are lots of places to get help. It just seems hard to find sometimesRealising that you are not meant to suffer (no one is!) and seeking help is so huge. Do it ‘cause you deserve it! A healthy you can change the world! And the world deserves your healthiest you, too.”

Street Venom, the re-issue, is set for release on 30th July and will consist of a deluxe edition of the album available both digitally and on vinyl, courtesy of Suicide Squeeze Records. Pre-order here.

Lauren Roberts
@robauren

Photo Credit: Mara Breene

Track Of The Day: ĠENN – ‘Feel’

For Brighton-based four-piece ĠENN, the new year brings the release of a new single, the second from their forthcoming EP Liminal – but also, a freshening, furthering and more fully rounded version of their sound. The last couple of years have been something of a wild ride for the group, who released debut album Tittymonster back in 2018 and have supported the likes of PINS, The Orielles and Honeyblood. That list’s blend of post-punk and garage largely typifies the sound of Tittymonster, whilst their singles from last year showed other strings to their bow. The new wave-y ‘Duda Dance’ and the grungy, more political ’23rd March’ with its Nirvana-style riff. But it’s their sometime support of psych rock legends Acid Mothers Temple that makes the most sense in light of the strong psych influence on latest track ‘Feel’, which sees the band moving into less angular, and more free-flowing territory.

The track opens with a rattle of drums and picked percussion, settling into a garage-y groove, and the kind of funky bass-line that pops up on many a Tarantino soundtrack. There’s something a little Death Valley fried about the guitar riff that sits over the top of everything as well, resting with an other worldly grace, like oil on deep water.

Through it, Leona’s vocals cut, riding the sonic waves like a yacht. “I can’t see / but I can feel”, she sings in the song’s chorus – typical of the lyrical simplicity of the song (another psych hallmark), but no less effective for it. If anything, this is exemplar of the best things about a genre that focuses on release, often with a side of intoxication – or, as Leona sings: “I’m blitzed / I’m finally letting go”. She gives up on the lyrics and moves to straight-up vocalising throughout the song’s middle eight and its instrumental desert rock-meets-Savages outro. When all the guitar lines and percussion fall away, the last two aspects of the song are Leona’s vocals, barely above a whisper, and that bass-line, deep and enticing.

The video for the track – directed by Leona – features a woman musing whilst in a launderette, finding herself in different locations, intermixed with animation, before walking into a room where ĠENN are performing. It’s a nod to the way that fantasies are often born out of the most humdrum of activities, as well as introducing the surreal fish-headed creature from the cover of Liminal. But it’s also a kind of tacit acknowledgement of the times we’re in: the empty spaces, the distance between people, and the covering of faces (albeit not usually with fishes). Even the sight of a band performing seems somewhat wistful and nostalgic at time of writing. Psych is at heart – about the connection, on a deeper level, between people, across distance, through music. With that in mind, ĠENN might have just found the sound we need.

 

Feel‘ is out now, taken from ĠENN’s upcoming EP Liminal, set for release 30th March via Everything Sucks Music.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego