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SUICIDE SQUEEZE

The Coathangers

The Devil You Know

    In their early years, Atlanta trio The Coathangers were very much of the classic punk ethos—the band was a live entity, and the records were a document of the charisma and chaos projected from stage. But after 12 years of relentlessly touring on a steady flow of EPs and LPs, The Coathangers finally took a moment to recalibrate before diving into the creation of their sixth studio album The Devil You Know. The band regrouped to make an album that captures all the vitality of their early years while honing their individual strengths into new communal achievements. It’s a record that takes their established takes on vitriolic punk, playful house-party anthems, and heartworn ballads and melds them into a new sound that retains all their former live show glories while revealing a new level of songwriting and nuance. “The writing process was done with an open heart,” says guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel. “Everything that came before had to go away. And we started there, at ground zero.” With each album, you could hear the individual songwriters honing their style. But with The Devil You Know, it feels like we’re hearing the first Coathangers record written as a true unit.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Bimbo
    2. 5 Farms
    3. Crimson Telephone
    4. Hey Buddy
    5. Step Back
    6. Stranger Danger
    7. F The NRA
    8. Memories
    9. Last Call
    10. Stasher
    11. Lithium

    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

      L.A. Witch

      Play With Fire

        Where L.A. Witch's self-titled album oozed with vibe and atmosphere, with the whole mix draped in reverb, sonically placing the band in some distant realm, broadcast across some unknown chasm of time, Play With Fire comes crashing out of the gate with a bold, brash, in-your-face rocker “Fire Starter.” The authoritative opener is a deliberate mission statement.

        “Play With Fire is a suggestion to make things happen,” says Sanchez. “Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.” And by that line of reasoning, “Fire Starter” becomes a call to action, an anthem against apathy. From there, the album segues into the similarly bodacious rocker “Motorcycle Boy” a feisty love song inspired by classic cinema outlaws like Mickey Rourke, Marlon Brando, and Steve McQueen. At track three, we hear L.A. Witch expand into new territories as “Dark Horse” unfurls a mixture of dustbowl folk, psychedelic breakdowns, and fire-and-brimstone organ lines. And from there, the band only gets more adventurous.

        Play With Fire is a bold new journey that retains L.A. Witch’s siren-song mystique, nostalgic spirit, and contemporary cool. Despite the stylistic breadth of the record, there is a unifying timbre across the album’s nine tracks, as if the trio of young musicians is bound together as a collective of old souls tapping into the sounds of their previous youth.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Fire Starter
        2. Motorcycle Boy
        3. Dark Horse
        4. I Wanna Lose
        5. Gen-Z
        6. Sexorexia
        7. Maybe The Weather
        8. True Believers
        9. Starred

        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.

          SadGirl

          Water

            With their new album Water, Los Angeles trio SadGirl taps into the romantic and nostalgic spirit of their native city while exuding a time-tested authenticity suggesting they’ve had a peek behind the curtain of the glitzy boulevards and relentless sunshine. It’s a collection of breezy pop songs captured with the timbre of old-time recording techniques. Songs like “Little Queenie” touch upon the yesteryear reverberations and longing of a Ken Boothe ballad. Similarly, a tormented love song like “Miss Me” transports the listener back to slow dances at a previous generation’s sock hop, only to be subverted by a chorus of “miss me with that bullshit.”

            It’s as if guitarist/vocalist Misha Lindes, drummer David Ruiz, and bassist Dakota Peterson want to conjure an idealized past only to remind us of innocence lost. “If you want to learn about water, go to the desert.” It’s a piece of wisdom that made an impact on Lindes. “Here we are in Los Angeles, a desert, ping-ponging between drought and El Niño. This record is an attempt to share a small portion of my experience growing up and living here,” said Lindes. “It’s basically about the fluidity of water and its power and importance.” “L.A.’s SadGirl make slow and hazy pop perfect for your summer soundtrack” 

            TRACK LISTING

            1. The Ocean
            2. Chlorine
            3. Hazelnut Coffee
            4. Miss Me
            5. Breakfast For 2
            6. Little Queenie
            7. Mulholland
            8. Strange Love
            9. Avalon
            10. Water

            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

              Guantanamo Baywatch

              Desert Center

              Guantanamo Baywatch’s new album ‘Desert Center’ opens with ‘Conquistador’, an instrumental track displaying enough fretboard savvy and fiery twang to make The Challengers proud. However, any notion that Guantanamo Baywatch are strictly adhering to one facet of rock ‘n’ roll’s classic era is dispelled by the soulful swagger and unabashed pop of ‘Neglect’.

              It’s an inadvertent juxtaposition maintained through the entirety of ‘Desert Center’, with blazing instrumental nuggets like ‘The Scavenger’ alternating with the proto-grunge and golden oldies mash-up of a track like ‘Blame Myself’.

              Like their 2015 album ‘Darling… It’s Too Late’, ‘Desert Center’ was primarily tracked in Atlanta at Living Room Recording with Justin McNeight and Ed Rawls, with Jason Powell doing the bulk of the guitar tracks on his own at Jungle Muscle Studios.

              While Guantanamo Baywatch initially made a name for themselves with their early blown-out recordings, ‘Desert Center’ retains the raw aesthetics of a Hasil Adkins single but has the added heft and thump afforded by a modern studio. This balance is perhaps best captured on ‘Video’, where bassist Chevelle Wiseman drives the tune with a thick, throbbing riff while drummer Chris Scott ruthlessly pounds his kit with a crashing clarity guaranteed to please even the most snobby analogue audiophile.

              TRACK LISTING

              Conquistador
              Neglect
              The Scavenger
              Mesa, AZ
              Interlude #1
              Witch Stomp
              Blame Myself
              Area 69
              Video
              Interlude #2
              The Australian

              ‘Gift Of Life’, the first proper full length by VHS, follows in the footsteps of their previous EPs, with the band self-recording their amalgam of Lost Sounds’ trashy discontent, early Big Black’s trebly guitar stabs and ‘Only Theatre Of Pain’-era Christian Death’s black reverberations. These are brash and bitter territories to occupy but the band sees no other choice for their musical direction, citing the daily grind as the impetus behind their music.

              The harsh reality of frontman Josh Hageman’s day-today existence working on the periphery of the medical field played a direct role in the overall theme of the album. Those fatalistic views and medical themes are on full display on ‘Wheelchair’, where a punk pulse underscores Hageman’s harrowing description of a life lived in chronic pain with drugs serving as the only escape.

              The album continues on to ‘Hospital Room’, where wiry guitar leads and ominous chords provide the soundtrack to a scene of misery and tragedy within the sanitized walls of Western medicine.

              Elsewhere, the themes of addiction and exposure take on more universal themes, such as on the culturegorging lament of ‘Binge Everything’ or the panopticon-paranoia of ‘Public Act’.

              TRACK LISTING

              Fully Realized
              Wheelchair
              Hospital Room
              Public Act
              Crooked Echo
              Binge Everything
              Art Decay
              Constant Hiss

              From the opening bedlam of barnburner ‘Counting The Days’, Audacity demonstrate that while their songwriting has become more nuanced, their delivery has gotten more savagely precise.

              With recording duties handled by longtime friend and tourmate Ty Segall, Audacity sound like they’ve finally found someone who can capture the frenetic drive of a song like ‘Hypo’, the off-kilter hook of ‘Riot Train’, the undeniable melodic appeal of ‘Fire’ and the cowpunk influence of ‘Previous Cast’.

              “I feel like we get portrayed a lot as a sunshine-y, carefree California band,” guitarist / vocalist Kyle Gibson says “But lots of our songs deal with melodramatic subject matter. The fact we’ve all lived in Fullerton pretty much the whole time we’ve been in the band has some effect on the music. Driving around town, there’s a memory or a ghost on every street. People die or move away or get in trouble, or groups of friends drift apart and start hating each other and get in fights. It’s not demoralizing; it’s a part of life, but of course it affects the music.”

              That frustration manifests itself on songs like ‘Overrated’, where you can almost hear the spit and sweat hitting the microphone, before the band turn around to bask in the unapologetically gratuitous pop swagger of album closer ‘Lock On The Door’.

              TRACK LISTING

              Counting The Days
              Not Like You
              Riot Train
              Umbrellas
              Baseball
              Dirty Boy
              Hypo
              Fire
              Previous Cast
              Overrated
              Awake
              Lock On The Door

              Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles

              Oh Man, Cover The Ground

                ‘Oh Man, Cover The Ground’’s softly-stated melodies and breezy air operates on its own sense of time. Though the songs still settle comfortably into threeminute parcels, their gestation bucked at the convention of pop music’s stringent time format.

                “I’m really into meandering, fingerpicked open-tuned acoustic guitar, like John Fahey and Robbie Basho,” says Shana Cleveland. “I started playing guitar in that style during a year right before I moved to Seattle when I was lonely and bummed out in the San Fernando Valley and found solace in spending long afternoons fingerpicking slow moving improvisations.”

                This casualness is evident in the music - you can hear it in the airy ambience of album opener ‘Butter & Eggs’, the gentle piano and strings accompaniment on the title track, the particularly Fahey-esque explorations of ‘Itching Around’ and ‘SPATM’. Even the timeline of the album’s development seems to defy the ephemeral haste that permeates so much contemporary music.

                The bulk of ‘Oh Man, Cover The Ground’ was recorded in Shana’s basement. “I wanted it to sound casual and kind of loose like my favorite folk albums, so we didn’t practice much before recording and a few of the musicians were playing the songs for the first time.”

                TRACK LISTING

                Butter & Eggs
                Holy Rollers
                Oh Man, Cover The Ground
                Itching Around
                Potato Chips
                Golden Days
                (death Riff)
                SPATM
                Rounding The Block
                City To City
                Sucking Stones
                Quiet As Skin
                Change In The Ocean

                On ‘Visits’, Tammar pulls off a pretty incredible trick with each and every one of its post-punk anthems. They mine the classic sounds of paranoia, malaise and misanthropy (Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, The Fall and early 90s alt-rock) and fill it all with so much exuberance and joy of playing that each song becomes a triumph over anxiety and ennui.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Heavy Tonight
                2. Summer Fun
                3. The Last Line
                4. Deep Witness
                5. Arrows Underwater
                6. Yung Jun
                7. Frost Meter

                The Magic Musicians

                The Magic Musicians

                  This Seattle band features John Atkins (764-Hero) and Joe Plummer (Black Heart Procession) and are recommended if you like Quasi, the Replacements, 764-Hero and the Blues Explosion. They reach to stretch the elastic of modern indie-pop music while adding an appreciative nod to the SST-era of punk rock when Husker Du and the Minutemen were kings. Aggressive where it needs to be, loose when it should be, the Magicians second self-titled album matures and furthers what was started on 2001's "Girls" and shows that the band's got plenty more to offer.


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