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DEATH VALLEY GIRLS

Death Valley Girls

Glow In The Dark - Reissue

    Death Valley Girls’ sophomore album Glow in the Dark (2016) is a white-hot distillation of their sound and spirit a jittery and jubilant joyride of barnburner guitar riffage, goosebump-inducing choral hooks, pounding rhythms provided by drummer Laura “The Kid” Kelsey and bassist Alana Amram, and an overarching aura of some secret and subversive power. The band wastes no time detailing their strategies as they crash out of the gate with the title track. Bloomgarden and auxiliary vocalist Jessie Jones issue the song’s call to arms “unite, multiply, and conquer” as a rallying cry to likeminded souls.

    “Once you realize that money, government, and this whole system is a shitty construct that doesn’t work and stands in the way of our true magical in­nite potential, we start to glow,” says Bloomgarden about Glow in the Dark. “And we can see everyone that believes ‘cause they glow too!” It’s hard to not feel that magical tingle during the riotous stomp of “Disco,” the old school rattle-and-raze of “Death Valley Boogie,” or the -re-and-brimstone proselytizing of “Seis Seis Seis.”

    While the initial line-up of Death Valley Girls featuring the core duo of Bloom-eld and Schemel with bassist Rachel Orosco and drummer Patty Schemel ruminated on the hellish realities of the modern world on their debut album Street Venom, the Glow in the Dark-era Death Valley Girls reveled in the secret bond between the mis-ts and outcasts who refused to bow to crushing weight of “capitalism, classism, and elitism.” Up until now, Glow in the Dark has been as elusive and mysterious as the forces behind its title, with physical manifestations of the album being out of print since 2016.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Glow In The Dark
    2. Disco
    3. Death Valley Boogie
    4. Seis Seis Seis
    5. Pink Radiation
    6. I’m A Man Too
    7. Love Spell
    8. Horror Movie
    9. Summertime
    10. Wait For You

    Death Valley Girls

    Street Venom (Deluxe Edition)

      With a name like Death Valley, one would assume early cartographers were actively deterring people from its boundaries. It’s now recognized as an ecosystem with its own unique beauty and wonder, though it’s not without its element of danger. That landscape is a fitting reference for LA’s blazing rock troupe Death Valley Girls, whose particular blend of garage punk, proto-metal, and communal music drapes an air of occult mystery and white-hot energy over an underlying celebration of life and vitality. Their 2020 album Under the Spell of Joy was the clearest distillation of the band’s ongoing mission—creating a sound that was both riotous and transcendental, brimming with positivity even as it navigated dark melodies and rowdy riffs. That said, Death Valley Girls felt fully realized the moment they appeared on the scene and never lost track of their initial daredevil energy. Their debut album, 2014’s Street Venom, was given only a modest roll-out consisting of a small run of cassettes, but the songs were so infectious that they continue to be staples in the band’s live set.

      For the fi­rst time, Street Venom is receiving its proper due with a Deluxe Edition courtesy of Suicide Squeeze Records. Death Valley Girls began when vocalist/guitarist/organist Bonnie Bloomgarden moved to Los Angeles to get clean from drugs. Figuring that playing music would be a positive distraction, she put her feelers out for potential bandmates and was eventually introduced to Hole drummer Patty Schemel and her guitarist brother Larry. Bassist Rachel Orosco was brought into the fold soon after. “We spent a year messing around and jamming ‘cause we all needed to play and have something safe to do that wasn’t AA,” Bloomgarden says of the band’s infancy stage. Not wanting to land shows only off the merits of their drummer’s credentials, Death Valley Girls opted to make a record before playing out live. They spent two days at Station House Studios in Echo Park with producer Mark Rains and cranked out the nine-track album Street Venom.

      The deliciously scuzzy guitars and righteous chorus of album opener “No Reason” immediately set the tone for the album. There’s an undeniable swagger to tracks like “Arrow” and “Shadow,” a sultry allure to songs like “Get Home” and “Paradise Blues,” and a life-af­rming electric spirit to “Girlfriend” that sound more like the output of a seasoned, road-tested band than the debut offering of a bunch of mis­ts. Combined with the follow-up long-out-of-print seven inch single “Electric High” b/w “Gettin’ Hard,” this Deluxe Edition of Street Venom captures the ­ery beginnings of one of LA’s most exciting and inspirational underground rock bands while bolstering the sound with a new mix and a remaster.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. No Reason
      2. Sanitarium Blues
      3. Arrow
      4. Get Home
      5. Shadow
      6. Gettin’ Hard
      7. Paradise Blues
      8. Run Run Rocky
      9. Red Glare
      10. Girlfriend
      11. Electric High

      Death Valley Girls

      Under The Spell Of Joy

        The album opens with “Hypnagogia,” an ode to the space between sleep and wakefulness where we are open to other realms of consciousness. The song slowly builds along a steady pulse provided by bassist Pickle (Nicole Smith) and drummer Rikki Styxx. Tripped out saxophone bleats from guest player Gabe Flores swirl on top of the organ drones laid out by guest keyboardist Gregg Foreman. The band’s choral objectives for Under the Spell of Joy are established right off the bat, with Bonnie Bloomgarden’s melodic invocations bolstered by a choir, giving the album a rich and vibrant wall-of-sound aesthetic. The song ominously builds on its hypnotic foundation until it opens up into a raucous revelry at the four-minute mark.

        The portentous simmer of the opening track yields to the ecstatic rocker “Hold My Hand,” where verses reminiscent of Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting For The Man” explode into big triumphant choruses. From there the band launches into the title track, which marries the griminess of The Stooges with an innocence provided by a children’s choir chanting the album’s primary mantra “under the spell of joy / under the spell of love.”

        Death Valley Girls have always vacillated between lightness and darkness, and on “Bliss Out” they demonstrate their current exuberant focus with a patina-hued pop song driven by an irrepressibly buoyant organ line laid down by keyboardist The Kid (Laura Kelsey). A similar cosmic euphoria is obtained on “The Universe,” where alternating chords on the organ help elevate soaring saxophone and keyboard lines out beyond the stratosphere. If you’re looking for transcendental rock music, look no further.

        “Death Valley Girls are a gift to the world.” Iggy Pop.

        “If Charlie Spahn Ranch girls had formed a band that was part-Stooges, part-Bikini Kill, all groove, then they’d have sounded like this.” Classic Rock Magazine.

        “A striking record, all brazen fury and bratty beats, something resembling hard rock before Sabbath” Noisey.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: A ruthless, but melodic jaunt through snarling punk riffs, snapping percussion and fists-in-the-air groove from Death Valley Girls here. Expertly toeing the line between distorted drive and more thoughtful, slow numbers. Utterly essential, and a superb early morning blast.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Hypnagogia
        2. Hold My Hand
        3. Under The Spell Of Joy
        4. Bliss Out
        5. Hey Dena
        6. The Universe
        7. It All Washes Away
        8. Little Things
        9. 10 Day Miracle Challenge
        10. I’d Rather Be Dreaming
        11. Dream Cleaver

        Death Valley Girls

        Breakthrough

          One-Time Pressing Limited To 750 Copies. Half Purple & Half Black Color Vinyl. Includes Download Coupon. A-Side Cover Of “Breakthrough” By Atomic Rooster. B-Side Cover Of “Rock ’N’ Roll / Ega” By Daniel Johnston. LA's Death Valley Girls have made a name for themselves by churning out a desert-blasted blend of rowdy proto-punk and primitive heavy metal steeped in cosmic idealism and third-eye consciousness.

          Their first new offering since tearing a hole in the sky with their 2018 album Darkness Rains comes in the form of a two-song seven-inch, "Breakthrough." The title track is a cover by Atomic Rooster, though the band discovered the track through a rendition by Nigerian outfit The Funkees. With its grimy guitar riffs, fire-and-brimstone organ, and combative chorus, it's as if the song was originally written with Death Valley Girls' brand of stark transcendental rock in mind. But it wasn't just the pulse and melody that drew the band to the song.

          "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," says vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden. The song discovery coincided with the band's interest in Damien Echols of West Memphis 3 and his ability to endure his imprisonment by learning to astral project through meditation. The b-side is another cover - a ramped up version Daniel Johnston's loud-quiet-loud anthem "Rock 'N' Roll / EGA." It's a total rager, but it's also a bittersweet song for Death Valley Girls as they had the rare privilege to briefly serve as Johnston's backing band. Ultimately, the two songs have a deep and profound connection to Death Valley Girls, both in their spirit and in their aural alignment.

          Death Valley Girls

          Darkness Rains

            At the core of Death Valley Girls, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel channel a modern spin on Funhouse’s sonic exorcisms, ZZ Top’s desert-blasted riffage, and Sabbath’s occult menace. On their third album Darkness Rains, Death Valley Girls churn out the hypercharged scuzzy rock every generation yearns for, but there is a more subversive force percolating beneath the surface that imbues the band with an exhilarating cosmic energy. Album opener “More Dead” is a rousing wake up call, with a hypnotic guitar riff and an intoxicating blown-out solo underscoring Bloomgarden’s proclamation that you’re “more dead than alive.”

            The pace builds with “(One Less Thing) Before I Die”, a distillate of Detroit’s proto-punk sound. At track three, Death Valley Girls hit their stride with “Disaster (Is What We’re After)”, a rager that takes the most boisterous moments off Exile On Main Street and injects it with Zeppelin’s devil’s-note blues. Darkness Rains retains its intoxicating convocations across ten tracks, climaxing with the hypnotic guitar drones and cult-like chants of “TV In Jail On Mars.” “Death Valley Girls are a gift to the world

            TRACK LISTING

            1. More Dead
            2. (One Less Thing) Before I Die
            3. Disaster (Is What We’re After)
            4. Unzip Your Forehead
            5. Wear Black
            6. Abre Camino
            7. Born Again And Again
            8. Street Justice
            9. Occupation: Ghost Writer
            10. TV In Jail On Mars


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