Call it a lazy journalism but this review should start and end with the following statement: Go and grab yourself Death Valley Girls` new album ‘Under The Spell of Joy’, there are still some copies left of magnetic lodestone vinyl version on their Bandcamp (gold and silver vinyl are already sold out), cause when the record comes out on 2nd October you may miss it and not even CDs will be left in store. You have been warned.
OK, not-so-lazy- review version, for those who have no idea we are talking about a cult band here. While you lost souls have been distracted by lads bands, the Los Angeles based four piece have released three critically acclaimed albums: ‘Darkness Rains’ (2018), ‘Glow in the Dark’ (2016) & ‘Street Venom’ (2014) and toured the world gathering legions of fans.
Led by vocalist and guitarist Bonnie Bloomgarden, Death Valley Girls also include guitarist Larry Scheme, bassist Nicole “Pickle” Smith and drummer Rikki Styxx. The band often expands their line up by adding guests musicians, such as saxophonist Gabe Flores or keyboardists Gregg Foreman and Laura “The Kid” Kelsey. This rotating caravan of musical masters has created some incredible material for ‘Under The Spell of Joy’.
Take the lead single ‘Hold My Hand’ for example. It’s a psychedelic masterpiece, laced with 70’s styled harmonies, big beat drums and punky vocals. Nobody does garage/space rock these days like Americans. From Vermont`s King Tuff, to NYC based Pan Arcadia and all the way to the sunny California where Hooveriii and Dream Phases reside, the amount of artists that dabble in neo-psychedelic revival is jaw dropping. Death Valley Girls seem to be on the front lines of this musical movement.
You see, the band brings much more to the table than just awesome tunes. They have this incredible artistic vision fof what they want to achieve. Some of their concepts are so detailed that it takes weeks to bring them to life. For the ‘Hold My Hand’ video the band commissioned Andi Avery and Kate E. Hinshaw of Analog Cookbook who then gathered 61 artworks from artists across the United States and animated them into a visual representation of the song using 16mm film as a medium. The effect is a cacophony of colours, shapes, lyrics and symbols that could easily be exhibited in art galleries as a video installation.
If the previous three records placed Death Valley Girls in the top tier of best bands on the indie circuit, ‘Under The Spell of Joy’ will take them much further, right into mainstream and towards bigger audiences. We have seen something similar with Bambara earlier this year.
The band is scheduled to play some UK dates in December. Time will tell if the gigs can happen but it would be ideal if they could come to Birmingham. Just imagine Death Valley Girls, Cherry Pickles, Tables Scraps and The Cosmics on one bill. Preferably at The Night Owl. It would surely compensate for a shitty year.