(Los Angeles, USA /// Burger Records,Suicide Squeeze)
While studies have been conducted aiming to understand the science behind music, our inexplicable ability to tap into the emotions of another human being by way of arrangements of sonic frequencies still seems a bit like magic. LA’s Death Valley Girls have always sought to wield that magic like ancient mystics, creating psychic bonds with willing ears through the medium of their fiery rock n’ roll. On the surface, previous albums like Glow in the Dark and Darkness Rains were rowdy mash-ups of early American punk, sun-baked psych rock, and proto-metal fire-and-brimstone guitar worship, yet there was always an undercurrent of some kind of strange, celebratory communal ritual in their music. With their latest album Under the Spell of Joy, the band dives even deeper into that magical cosmic energy.
The album title Under the Spell of Joy 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, treating it like a talisman. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!” The band sought to create a spiritual record—what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel”—with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship. It’s a record loaded with chants, choirs, and rousing choruses, all for the purpose of encouraging people to sing along. Where the band had once sought to connect people through more esoteric means, they now tap into the age-old tradition of uniting people by inviting them to be an active part of the music.