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

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
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: L.A. Witch – ‘Gen-Z’

There’s a hazy feeling that comes with listening to the music of Californian trio L.A. Witch. Their grungy vocals and psychedelic guitars have a way of transporting you to the Californian desert with the taste of last night’s whiskey on your breath.

The band have a unique way of combining vintage appeal with fresh subject matter and ‘Gen-Z’ is the perfect example of this. A four minute track inspired by the high suicide rates among Generation Z due to the pressures of existing in a social media age. Of the track, guitarist & vocalist Sade Sanchez expands:

“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.”

L.A. Witch’s 2017 self-titled debut oozed swagger through its laidback sound, possibly due to the band’s organic and slow-paced songwriting process. But upcoming album Play With Fire came to be under different circumstances; between their hectic touring schedule, studio availability, and the timeline for releasing records, they found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of the writing.

Despite the limited time frame, however, ‘Gen-Z’ showcases a band on top form; with its gritty energy and swirling bewitching haze, it’s a perfectly hypnotic slice of psych-infused desert rock.

 

Play With Fire, the upcoming album from L.A. Witch, is set for release 21st August via Suicide Squeeze Records. 

 

Ellie Ball
@ellie__ball