Los Angeles dystopian punk glam rockers Death Valley Girls have just dropped their new album Under the Spell of Joy via Suicide Squeeze Records. Combining feisty rock n’ roll with magical lyrics there is a timely aspect to their release, ideal for this season that has befallen us.
Death Valley Girls has at their core, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel and their stalled unabated touring schedule means that the rest of the group is rounded out by whichever like-minded compatriots can get in the van. This band have always sought to wield that magic is like ancient mystics, creating psychic bonds with willing ears through the medium of their fiery rock n’ roll. With this most recent offering, the band becomes more transparent on this and delve even deeper into this magical cosmic energy.
The album title itself comes from the text on a t-shirt from San Diego heavy psych rockers Joy that was handed off to Death Valley Girls’ vocalist/guitarist Bonnie Bloomgarden, who wore the shirt for five years straight. An LP loaded with chants, choirs, and rousing choruses, Under the Spell of Joy is intended for people to sing along. They are now tapping into the more traditional means of uniting people by inviting them to be an active part of the music.
The initial inspiration for the record came from the jubilant spirit of Ethiopian funk records the band had been listening to on tour. However, this is not entirely obvious on a listen. In the weeks leading up to recording, Death Valley Girls relied on their subconscious and seemingly effortlessly wrote and recorded the LP’s eleven tracks as if they’d tapped into the Akashic Chronicle and pulled the music from the ether.
Album opener, Hypnagogia, is an ode to the space between sleep and wakefulness where we are open to other realms of consciousness. That opening riff of Hold My Hand is one that gets my attention, the punky blues frothing at the top on tracks such as these. Title track is repetitive but retains a punky Stooges edge that makes it a “Joy” to listen. Bliss Out allows you to do precisely that, with that organ intro to a patina-hued pop song. Hey Dena is a wonderfully textured bluesy track that has a touch of the never ending saga to it, but for all the right reasons. I’d Rather Be Dreaming equally kicks off with a monumental yet ominous organ solo before the drums and bass kick in. Hazy, dreamy and bluesy, we could half expect Josh Homme or Iggy Pop to voice in at any moment but the Death Valleys need no such help. Sultry, yet feisty it’s another great track for the Girls. A transition entirely to something more spellbound, this new LP is a fabulous addition to their catalogue, cementing my interest in their work.
Under the Spell of Joy is available now, via Suicide Squeeze Records.