Posts Tagged ‘Sade Sanchez’

L.a. witch octubre clean version

Produced by Gregg Foreman (Cat Power, Delta 72). L.A. Witch’s eponymous debut album tapped into the allure of warm nights on the West Coast while hinting at the loneliness and lawlessness of living on the periphery of a country founded on a dark past. The three-piece composed of Sade Sanchez, Irita Pai, and Ellie English culled sounds from the outlaws of warmer climes, whether it was 13th Floor Elevators’ lysergic rock n’ roll or the cool hand fatalism by The Doors on songs like The End. It’s an album transmitting subdued revelry while also smirking at the inevitable consequences of the night.

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There is no better season for these kinds of songs than the autumn, when the promises of summer have abated and the nights of reckoning grow longer. L.A. Witch seized the moment by revisiting some of their early tracks and reshaping them into Octubre, a five-song EP that delves deeper into their darker side.

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Though the band hails from Los Angeles, they do not partake in any sort of witchcraft. Yet their ability to conjure a specific time and place through their sound does suggest a kind of magic. On their eponymous debut album, L.A. Witch’s reverb-drenched guitar jangle and sultry vocals conjure the analog sound of a collector’s prized 45 from some short-lived footnote cult band. The melodies forgo the bubblegum pop for a druggy haze that straddles the line between seedy glory and ominous balladry; the production can’t afford Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound, but the instruments’ simple beauty provides an economic grace that renders studio trickery unnecessary; the lyrics seem more descendent of Johnny Cash’s first-person morality tales than the vacuous empty gestures of pre-fab pop bands.

This isn’t music for the masses; it’s music for miscreants, burnouts, down-and-out dreamers, and obsessive historians. Album opener Kill My Baby Tonight is the perfect introduction to the band’s marriage of ‘60s girls-in-the-garage charm and David Lynch’s surreal exposés of Southern California’s underbelly. Sade Sanchez’s black velvet vocals disguise the malicious intent of this murder ballad, with the thumping pulse of bassist Irita Pai, the slow-burn build of drummer Ellie English, and Sanchez’s desert guitar twang helping beguile the listener into becoming a willing accomplice to the narrator’s crimes. Brian follows the opening track with a similarly graceful, if not somewhat ominous, slow-mo take on a well-worn jukebox 7”. It’s a vibe that permeates the entire album, from the early psychedelic hue of 13th Floor Elevators on tracks like You Love Nothing, through the motorik beat and fuzzed-out licks of Drive Your Car, to the grittier permutation of Mazzy Star’s sleepy beauty on Baby In Blue Jeans.

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Listening to L.A. Witch is like willingly being put under a spell. One that transports you to California in the late ’60s, when the air was ripe with magick and the music was felt, not just heard. Los Angeles has always been a home for misplaced souls, and L.A Witch has the sound to go with it, dripping with nostalgia, heavy reverb, and glamour.

With Sade Sanchez’s crooning vocals and melodic guitar, Irita Pai’s pulsing bass, and Ellie English’s striking drums, L.A. Witch’s eponymous debut full-length album is a tour through an unseen Californian landscape.

Released on September 8th through Suicide Squeeze Records, coming after almost three consecutive years of touring for the band, who never expected to release a full-length. “All the songs on this album are songs that we’ve written over the few years that we’ve been a band. We were just excited to find each other, we weren’t thinking, ‘Oh, labels and albums.’ So when we were writing, we weren’t writing necessarily for an album, we were kind of just writing. So this is going to be some of our favorite and best songs,” the band says.

The band refers to their sound as “dark and fuzzy,” the sort of music that would soundtrack a cinematic murder spree, as proven by the album intro “Kill My Baby,” or just a late-night drive through Hollywood, as with “Drive Your Car,” windows down and neon lights twinkling. This is the sort of album that transports you to an unfamiliar place that feels familiar, with a sound that’s both evocative of and nostalgic for the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll.

The album, which was recorded at Hurley Studios in Costa Mesa in three days between tours, has soul to it a grit and energy that can’t be fabricated. “It was really hard [recording this] because in that little bit of time, you’re doing something that’s such a permanent thing and you want to nitpick it because you’re your own worst critic and you want it to be perfect. And maybe there is such thing, but in our mind, it’s never going to be perfect,” the band says. But these so-called imperfections are what makes the album so much fun to listen to. Whether you’re blasting “Baby in Blue Jeans,” a slower ballad that gives Lana Del Rey a run for her denim, or “Good Guys,” with its spiky and punctuated chorus, these songs are best left unpolished, exposing the dark underbelly to sunny Californian life.

Technically, there’s no underlying theme to the assemblage of the album, though the down and dirty and inherently rebellious spirit of these songs make a statement with each play, especially when seen and heard in person. The three women all have their own distinct sense of style, in what could be described as a hodgepodge of “mod goth glam rock.” They’re reminiscent of iconic bands like The Cramps, whose unapologetic aesthetic and sound created an experience one had to see to believe. Their sartorial inspiration also comes from icons like Johnny Thunder and “his suit era,” Kurt Cobain and his “just not giving a fuck” attire, and Jeffrey Lee Pierce and his “gothic cowboy” style.

Although it’s easy to assume L.A. Witch has been put in a box for being an all-woman band, they think about it differently. This is a band that isn’t meant to be put in any category, especially not one that denotes gender for the sake of it. To simply think of L.A. Witch as a “girl rock band” severely underestimates their scope and talent. To put them in a box is to beg them to break out of it. “Personally, I don’t pay attention to gender, I pay attention to what you’re actually doing,” Sanchez says “I’ve never been phased by, ‘Oh that’s a girl doing this, or a girl managing a band.’ I don’t necessarily agree that it’s a male-dominated industry. I think there’s a lot of women involved, and there just hasn’t been as much attention on them as there is now. I don’t know if it’s a fashion thing, I don’t know what it is.”

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After a few years in the making, L.A. Witch is setting the scene to cast their spell. With tours across the United States and Europe this year (see the details below), not to mention their debut full-length, the three-piece is finally weaving their magick with their old-school southern California charm. As for what we can expect from the band going forward, the answer is pretty simple. A sophomore album in the future, plenty of more touring, and the sort of dark rock that tempts you to unleash your inner vixen.

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UK DATES
SEPTEMBER
18 Bristol, The Crofters Rights
19 Brighton, Acid Box
20 London, Moth Club
21 Glasgow, Mono
22 Liverpool, Psych Festival

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Los Angeles-based bad girl trio L.A. Witch released a new single today, “Kill My Baby Tonight,” off their forthcoming album, to be released later this year. They’re also embarking on a semi National tour, aptly named the Kill My Baby Tour 2015. I am all for a “kill my baby” reference. It reminds me of Bonnie and Clyde gone bad, love overdoses in the Badlands, and rounds of Russian roulette over tears and bottles of bourbon.

Which is kind of what they sound like.

L.A. Witch, consisting of Sade Sanchez on vox/guitar, Irita Pai on bass, and Ellie English on drums, got off to a tricky start. Their original drummer up and left, but that didn’t dissuade them. Once English enrolled in their cool school, the band played any show that would have them (including a show at What Youth last summer that still haunts our halls in the best way), fine-tuning their now undeniable aesthetic, complete with leather jackets and reverb-drenched chords.

Their sound is a combination of culty surf in the vein of Link Wray, with Sanchez’s riffs slow and steady until that breakdown knocks you off your chair, mixed with drugged-out cowboy twangs and that speckle of rock and roll to keep it all fuzzy and lo-fi. And “Kill My Baby Tonight” is right on that track, which makes me real thirsty for that debut LP – the band released a mini three-track EP last March listen above here.

These chicks know how to play music, especially English, who is one of the best female drummers I’ve heard or seen. She plays loud and fast and hard, harder than you’d think by looking at her sweet face. And Pai, with her miniskirt stance slapping her bass, keeps the rhythm section cinched like a gold chain. Sanchez’ vocals, sultry and powerful and gently gnarled like an emphysema patient, deliver the lyrics without pretense. In “Kill My Baby Tonight,” she pleads, “What am I to do / if I can’t be with you.” And fuck do I feel her.