There were a couple of Glasgow bands I had a deep fondness for, as they delved into the darker, more nihilistic forms of rock. One was Sons & Daughters and the other, well The Amazing Snakeheads, which unfortunately due to the sad passing of Dale Barclay, we will never hear from again. It is very rare to stumble upon this form of rock, but I think I may have found it in LA-based Death Valley Girls. Their new album, Darkness Rains, out on Suicide Squeeze Records is scuzzy, bluesy and boldly hedonistic.
Death Valley Girls has at their core, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel and their unabated touring schedule means that the rest of the group is rounded out by whichever like-minded compatriots can get in the van. On this new album, Darkness Rains, bassist Alana Amram, drummer Laura Harris, and a rotating cast of guests like Shannon Lay, The Kid (Laura Kelsey), and members of The Make Up, The Shivas, and Moaning help elevate the duo to more of a hypercharged force. There is this exhilarating cosmic energy throughout the album which has head nods to the likes of Jefferson Airplane and yet they retain their raw rock sound. The band’s second album, Glow In The Dark, was based on the concept that we are all trying to find enlightenment, whereas Darkness Rains takes it maybe a tad too far, considering how we are all connected once we have surpassed life.
The album opener, More Dead, is short, rhythmic, with filthy riffs, a great intro to the rest of the record. (One Less Thing) Before I Die certainly knocks the pace of the album up a notch or two before we are indulged with the more bluesy number, Disaster (Is What We’re After), which has hints of the great Led Zeppelin, and yet also The Kills. Unzip Your Forehead immediately recalls Heart’s Barracuda with that riff. Wear Black feels like it’s more than just black they are wearing, multi-textured and layered with seedy synth, filthy guitar and raunchy drums. Born Again and Again reminds me of Sonic Youth and the solo work of Thurston Moore, with those repetitive riffs, whereas Occupation: Ghost Writer certainly has more of a sixties sound to it, touching on the psychedelic, yet still raucous. TV in Jail on Mars is by far the longest track on the album, drawing elements of Ghost Rider in the Sky into their final track, not too dissimilar from the vibe they are opting to create with this album, a hypnotic trance of blues scuzz.
After this effort, I must admit I look forward to the next in Death Valley Girls’ line of releases. It’s been a while since I have found a rock frolic as satisfying as this one.
Photos courtesy of Michael Haight.
Darkness Rains is out via Suicide Squeeze Records.