EP: Deap Vally – ‘Digital Dream’

It’s often repeated that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations, but limitations can eventually outlive their usefulness – as Deap Vally discovered when cracks began to show in the band’s creative partnership. With two acclaimed albums of maximalist blues-rock behind them, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards began to feel the strain of working democratically as a duo. The ‘enemy’, it turns out, could in fact be the absence of a deciding vote.

Going through a form of couples therapy helped them to re-evaluate and open up their process and, feeling rejuvenated, they set out to make an album of collaborations. Digital Dream is not that album, but it features four songs originally planned for it – each one distinct from the other and pointing in several interesting directions for Troy and Edwards to progress in.

For a band named Deap Vally, they certainly have a few friends in high places. The guestlist for Digital Dream reads like a page from the Who’s Who of the L.A. music scene: Peaches, KT Tunstall, Soko, Jenny Lee Lindberg of Warpaint and Jamie Hince of The Kills all contribute. Behind-the-scenes videos from the recording process offer a glimpse into how these songs were pieced together, with experimentation, a little frustration and heaps of mutual respect. Those sessions took place way back in 2018, but ‘Look Away’ and, especially, ‘Digital Dream’ feel strangely relevant to our current situation. That Lindberg co-write ‘Look Away’, with its lovely three-way harmonies, is – by Deap Vally’s own standards – almost shockingly sedate. Vulnerability creeps into the framework of the song but a steely resistance remains at its core, driven by the confident, repetitive rhythm and the insistent command to not gaze too long at the past.

‘Digital Dream’ is something else altogether. Soko’s star turn here is as narrator from the year 2068 where human interaction is all but extinct and resistance to the post-apocalyptic technocracy is less than futile (think E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, without the redemptive arc). Together, the three women successfully build a Stockholm syndrome song-world, complete with atmospheric bleeps and blops, zeroing in on illusions of pleasure within the vividly dystopian context. Then, as the extended outro fades, we’re jolted back into the present with the cocksure swagger of ‘High Horse’. Tunstall, Troy and Edwards grandstand from the get-go – “I could be fucking anything I want / Yes, I’m driven, I use what I’m given” – and the chorus is close to euphoric. Things take a turn for the gloriously absurd when Peaches comes in with a typically audacious rap. Who else could rhyme ‘Devil Wears Prada’ with ‘boys on Truvada’ and ‘douche with java’ with ‘been to Bratislava’? It’s good, unpolished fun.

Finale ‘Shock Easy’ is less instantly attention-grabbing but reveals itself over several listens to be quite revelatory in its own right, with some masterful guitar work from Hince. A chilling reflection on the very American epidemic of mass shootings, it has the sort of detached, observational insight that made Sheryl Crow’s early albums so refreshing. “It was all too easy, now it’s all too heavy,” they rasp over blown-out drums and a starkly contrasting, almost-gospel backdrop that elevates and punctuates the song. It’s four for four, then, in terms of breaking all the Deap Vally ‘rules’ – and to largely great effect.

By following their instincts rather than self-imposed red lines, Troy and Edwards have discovered new doors where once they saw only walls. With more music promised later in the year, we won’t have to wait long to find out where they lead.

Listen to Deap Vally’s Digital Dream EP here.

Photo Credit: Kelsey Hart

Alan Pedder
@_neverdoneing

LISTEN: Hari Debi – ‘Bang’

A slow-burning guitar anthem that celebrates the power of female sexuality, London rockers Hari Debi have shared their latest single ‘Bang’. Accompanied by a smoking set of monochrome visuals featuring vocalist Maddy Jones cutting loose and enjoying herself in front of the lens, the track is a riff heavy ode to female desire that simmers with riotous passion.

Formed of Maddy, Mark Docherty (guitar), Jack Hall (bass) and Luis Bezzi (drums), Hari Debi take inspiration from The Kills, Saint Agnes and Dead Weather to create their bold rock and roll sounds. They released their first EP Loose Thread in 2020 and are planning to share a second EP later this year, with ‘Bang’ being the first taste of what’s to come.

“Musically the song is a metaphor for passion,” the four piece explain about the track. “It burns fast and frantic, then evens out into a slow riff before reigniting to an explosive conclusion.” Through Mark’s killer riffs and Maddy’s fervent vocals, the band celebrate the confidence and autonomy that comes with a healthy sexual appetite, even though women often experience sexist double standards when they choose to embrace their own.

Watch the video for ‘Bang’ below.

Follow Hari Debi on Spotify, Instagram &  Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Hari Debi – ‘Cabron’

Filled with gritty guitar riffs, snarling vocals and crashing percussion, London based Hari Debi have shared their latest single ‘Cabron’. Lifted from their debut EP Loose Thread, which is set for release on 25th September via We Can Do It Records, the track is a riotous take down of the industry gatekeepers who attempted to stand in the way of band’s authenticity.

Formed of Maddy Jones (vocals) and Mark Docherty (guitar), Hari Debi take inspiration from The Kills, Saint Agnes and Dead Weather to create their bold rock and roll sounds. On ‘Cabron’ – which literally means “dumbass goat” in Spanish – the pair channel their frustrations at a former manager into abrasive riffs and bittersweet vocals. Docherty produced, mixed and mastered the track himself, adding an extra cathartic edge to the track’s context.

Speaking about the track, the band explain: “‘Cabron’ is a tale of seeking revenge on a villainous figure. The figure in question is a seedy ex manager whom Hari Debi parted ways with due to false promises and financial skullduggery. In writing what we thought was a simple revenge story the song became something more: an anthem for any person who feels downtrodden by the actions of someone else. Whether you’re fighting for equality, have just been dicked over, or you just hate your boss, we hope ‘Cabron’ scratches that revenge itch and helps you through the day. Screw the people standing in your way, if you have a dream chase it.”

Listen to ‘Cabron’ below and follow Hari Debi on Facebook, and Spotify for more updates.

 

Pre-order your copy of Hari Debi’s debut EP Loose Thread here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Dolls

After sharing their debut EP Pop The Bubble in 2018, garage-rock duo Dolls have been busy writing new material and working with Producer Margo Broom (Hermitage Studio Works) to create more of their energetic guitar tunes. Filled with buoyant riffs, crashing percussion and strong vocals; their new EP, Eggshells, is a retrospective take on “Losing friends, creepy men, the strive for perfectionism, and day-to-day anxiety.”

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Dolls’ vocalist & guitarist Jade Ellins to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her writing techniques. Check out Jade’s choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for Dolls’ track ‘Eggshells’ at the end of this post.

1. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
I felt like I got into PJ Harvey surprisingly late considering I have loved female-fronted bluesy rock for most of my life. When I first started gigging in London about 8 years ago, I used to get compared to her so I thought “I should really give her a listen2. This was the first PJ album I listened to and it blew my mind. I loved everything about it – her vocal performance, the production, the lyrics – it was all incredible. It really influences my song writing and I especially like the way she plays with dynamics on this album. She manages to make one riff sound interesting for over five minutes with her arrangements, which I feel is one of the hardest things to do. My partner bought me this on vinyl and I honestly find it hard to listen to records all the way through without zoning out but this album keeps my interest the whole time.

2. Deep Purple – Made In Japan
I used to listen to this album on car journeys when I was little all the time. I love Deep Purple, and this live album showcases how brilliant they are live, even if Ritchie Blackmore likes to go off and do his own thing a lot of the time! I love every song on this album but my favourites are ‘Highway Star’, ‘Lazy’ and ‘Space Truckin’. This album has a lot of good memories for me and Ritchie Blackmore is still one of my favourite guitarists. I wouldn’t say I directly use Deep Purple to influence my song writing but I feel like parts of them must come out as I have listened to them so much.

3. Pixies – Doolittle
I actually used to hate the Pixies, and I did see them live when I was 21 and was bored. Then about 4 years later I listened to some songs of Doolittle and it was a light bulb moment (I thought it might happen with The Smiths but I still hate them!) I think my music taste really changed as I wanted to be more experimental with song writing. Pixies have an amazing way of making certain songs that really shouldn’t work sound interesting and engaging. My favourite song off the album is ‘Hey’. When I listen to it I sometimes want to cry because it is so good. Every single musician brings something unique to the band and I feel like every part fits together perfectly. It’s probably why when seeing them live now it isn’t quite the same as they don’t have Kim Deal anymore. I have watched old live videos and she definitely brings the energy and has such a distinctive voice. Raspy and angelic at the same time! I love you Pixies, I’m sorry I doubted you.

4. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Is this one of the best live albums/shows of all time? I think so! I sometimes put the show on just so I can run around with them. The song writing is magnificent and I love how in the show they gradually build up the stage, I couldn’t believe it when I first watched it. The only thing I can’t work out is everyone is wearing a similar outfit but the drummer is wearing a bright blue polo shirt, it annoys me slightly but I’ll let it go one day. I love Talking Heads’ use of vocal harmony and much like most of the albums I have put on this list – every instrument has its own essential part. Some bands you can feel that they haven’t been bothered to push themselves to think of a better bass line or guitar part but each instrument and choice made on these Talking Heads songs creates an essential part in a well-oiled and groovy machine.

5. The Kills – Keep On Your Mean Side
A friend at music college introduced me to The Kills and out of the largely male led duos I was listening to at the time. I loved the fact that there were male and female vocal parts. I thought Alison Mosshart was the coolest person ever and such a brilliant performer. I don’t listen to The Kills much anymore, but when I was first starting Dolls they played a big role at influencing my song writing. My favourite song from the album is ‘Fried Your Little Brains’. Much like PJ Harvey, they manage to make one riff throughout a whole song sound brilliant. I think that is largely down to Jamie’s rhythmic guitar playing. I used to watch him a lot to help with guitar playing ideas for Dolls. Out of the big duos at the time (The Black Keys, The White Stripes) Jamie’s guitar playing was my favourite. Not too showy but still unique.

Thanks to Jade for sharing her favourites with us!
Listen to Dolls’ new EP Eggshells on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Keira-Anee Photography