Death Valley Girls, “Sunday”

Posted: February 2, 2023 in MUSIC

For the first six years of their existence, LA’s Death Valley Girls purveyed scathing garage-rock and Suzi Quatro-esque glam with true-believer monomania, with very few detours into mellower territory. Sure, bands that rock hard and heavy could fill the Grand Canyon, but Death Valley Girls did it with more conviction and skill than 93% of the pack.

The thing is, they’d taken that style as far as they could, and it was time for a paradigm shift. So, beginning with 2020’s “Under the Spell of Joy”, Death Valley Girls loosened up a bit, psychedelicized to a degree, and broadened and added depth to their sonic palette (one inspiration was Ethiopian funk), and the changes did them good.

You can hear Death Valley Girls Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, organ), Larry Schemel (guitar), Rikki Styxx (drums), and Sammy Westervelt (bass, vocals)—inching further away from their garage-rock roots on their forthcoming album, “Islands in the Sky” (out February 24 via Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze label). “What Are the Odds” flirts with a fuzzy brand of bubblegum pop; “Journey to Dog Star” traffics in the sort of dark psychedelia that Echo & the Bunnymen took to the bank in the ’80s; “Watch the Sky” cruises elegantly down the Autobahn with krautrocking panache. The latter is Death Valley Girls most cosmic moment.

The group’s expansive sound arises partially from auxiliary musicians Gabe Flores (sax), Mark Rains (percussion), Gregg Foreman (synth, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ), and backing vocalists Little Ghost, Pickle, and Kelsey R. And on “Sunday,” the second single from “Islands in the Sky”, they venture into gospel’s holy caverns and show they got soul to burn.

Elevated by Foreman’s Hammond and Flores’s sax, Bloomgarden turns in a show- and time-stopping vocal performance, and the rave-up coda with the backing singers urging, “keep on movin’” perfectly caps off this thrilling, motivational anthem for Death Valley Girls. To quote the last song on Island, “it’s all really kind of amazing.”

The band have shared its latest single, “Magic Powers,” via a music video. The band’s bassist/co-lead singer Samantha Westervelt directed the video, which features the band in a video game.

The band’s main singer Bonnie Bloomgarden had this to say about the “Magic Powers” in a press release: “I was walking down the street, and all of the sudden it dawned on me that almost all the things that kids bullied me about, or I got in trouble for in school, or was told would make me never amount to anything, were actually my magic powers! My voice isn’t too high, or funny, it’s how I cast my spells! I’m not a bad student, I love learning, and being a seeker! And I’m not a crazy person with weird ideas, that will never fit into society, I’m a witch, and I have magic powers!”

Westervelt had this to say about the video: “This was a really exciting video to work on. The concept of the song and the concept of the video go hand-in-hand: facing challenges in life are part of the obstacle course we go through when we are training to get Magic Powers. No situation is ever going to be perfect and mistakes or adversity will challenge us, but if we stay true to who we are in the face of the lessons we’re served, and try try try again no matter what stands in our way, we can have magic powers. I am a firm believer in reincarnation, manifestation, and divine timing, and the video also plays around with those ideas, in addition to playing with a recurring theme from our ‘What Are the Odds’ video (i.e., living in a simulated world).” 

Death Valley Girls are releasing a new album, “Islands in the Sky”, on February 24th via Suicide Squeeze.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.