Platforms like Levitation exist to bring live concerts to people at a time when people choose not to go to live concerts because they’re in self-isolation and trying to stay socially distant. But artists need to keep creating and showcasing their work, so it’s not surprising there has been a deluge of live-streamed musical events over the past several months.
On September 5th, Levitation unveiled a concert from alt-rock band Death Valley Girls, a Los Angeles-based group made up of front woman Bonnie Bloomgarden, bassist Pickle, drummer Rikki Styxx and the sole male, guitarist Larry Schemel. Death Valley Girls, Live from the Astral Plane! was recorded at The Cone recording studio in LA, with former freelance writer-turned-producer/engineer Dante White-Aliano and video and visuals by Railroad Bill.
As far as online concerts go, this was a compelling one (it will continue to be available until October), with the quartet putting forth their distinctively intriguing sound—peppy, subversive, inky undertones couched in cheer. The concert precedes the group’s imminent album release, the 11-track Under The Spell of Joy, which bows on October 2, and features their 2019 release, “Dream Cleaver,” which the group performed in a video filled with fairy lights and rose hued-tones, a pleasant counter-balance to their otherwise edgy works. Bloomgarden, the singer-guitarist-keyboardist, has a soulful, gritty timber to her voice, and the song has lyrics that speak to the melancholy of the times in which people live.
“Live just for yourself/ Nobody else will ever know/ We are just one/ Do all you can before we go. Close your eyes/ And decide/ Go back into your life/ You’ll steal it/ When you believe it/It’s yours to find….It won’t be long before it’s gone.”
The concert opened with the group’s 2018 song “Abre Camino,” with its percussive, strident drumming driving a short, staccato melody and sparse vocals. They also performed “Street Justice,” from their 2018 album, Darkness Rains, which in parts feels reminiscent of the 1980s, with a bass-forward melody and sharp, incisive drumming. Another fave among followers is “More Dead,” which is brash and vaguely punk-flavored, anarchic and edgy in its tone.
As far as the album goes, the inspiration came it was reportedly derived from Ethiopian funk music, which is a suitably esoteric source. Other anchor songs from it include “Hypnagogia,” which, as its name suggests, is a dreamy, drifty piece that builds slowly in intensity. In “Hold My Hand,” there is a classically exuberant chorus, that illustrates once more how this musical quartet so seamlessly and playfully glides between the shadows between light and dark, interpreting the strangeness of the ‘new normal’, and yet fortuitously able to convey their specific brand of visceral messaging through a virtual medium.
Fittingly, the group ended their set with one of their earliest releases, 2014’s “Electric High,” the song largely believed to have garnered them their initial—and enduring—following. It has dystopian undertones who still remaining oddly rousing and almost whimsically trippy. Which might be an apt description for this one-to-watch group.
File Photo Credit: Mauricio Alvarado