A Band You Should Know: Death Valley Girls
November 30, 20108 | by Jocelyn Hoppa
Death Valley Girls make music that feels dangerous, fun, in your face, and weird — all the right elements to pack into your rock 'n' roll pipe and smoke on it.
Taken from the press release:
"The group feels less like a band and more like a traveling caravan. At their core, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel channel Death Valley Girls’ modern spin on Fun House’s sonic exorcisms, early ZZ Top’s desert-blasted riffage, and Sabbath’s occult menace."
The band released their third album, Darkness Rains, this past October on Suicide Squeeze, and as much as the music reigns, there are some deeper messages lurking under the bombastic soloing, fuzzed-out distortion, far-out psychedelia, and combined female vocals that emerge like chants or some kind of supernatural call to action.
Take album opener "More Dead" that gets right to the point by proclaiming you're "more dead than alive." One scan of song titles gives plenty of insight into what's in store: "Disaster (Is What We're After)," "Unzip Your Forehead," "Wear Black," and — my personal favorite — "Occupation: Ghost Writer" all convey the realm Death Valley Girls inhabit.
Though there is a somewhat rotating cast of musicians contributing to Death Valley Girls (Shannon Lay, The Kid, and members of The Make Up, The Shivas, and Moaning), the core creators here are vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel.
Schemel says of their brand of rock: "Songs come from beyond and other worlds, you just have to tune into the right radio wave signal to dial into them. Our signal happens to be in the 1970 Dodger Charger Spaceship." Not to be confused with Clutch's spacey rager about a 1973 Dodge Swinger — there is a difference. Further proof of this difference is the fact that Death Valley Girls often show up to play in all black, with capes and pentagrams or 666 drawn on their foreheads.
With a healthy dose of proto-punk and horror punk, some of the best tracks on Darkness Rains come on the later portion of the record, a sign of a superbly mixed album.
"Abre Camino," with it's reference point to Friday the 13th's Jason Vorhees chh-chh-ahh-ahh (the reverse sneeze!), satiates those amongst us who celebrate Halloween all year long. "Born Again and Again" features nightmarish, repetitive guitars, an overall slower jam in the mix, but the pause to drift is welcome. "Street Justice" picks the pace back up and almost reminds one of The Go-Gos gone goth. Ending on "T.V. in Jail on Mars," this is maybe the most perfect track for us all to line up and file out of 2018 to.
Though the band just finished up a massive tour covering the U.S., we have the feeling you'll have plenty of upcoming chances to catch them next time they come to your town. In the meantime, Darkness Rains is available (for now) in a limited pressing of 1,500 copies on translucent blood red and black splatter vinyl with a locked groove on track 10. Purchase Darkness Rains over at their Bandcamp page. (Or first, listen in full below).
Watch the video for "Disaster (Is What We're After)" featuring Iggy Pop in which he recreates Andy Warhol's Eating a Hamburger