Death Valley Girls - Under the Spell of Joy Music Album Reviews

Death Valley Girls - Under the Spell of Joy Music Album Reviews
Harnessing the allure of the occult and the power of self-help, the Los Angeles garage rockers break free from their roots and ascend to the realm of spiritual psych-jazz rockestra.

Death Valley Girls ringleader Bonnie Bloomgarden has said that her band’s initial bucket-list goal was to meet Iggy Pop. On their first two albums—2016’s Glow in the Dark and 2018’s Darkness Rains—they set the bait, in the form of sassy, saxy garage rock that hit the sweet spot between the Stooges and Shangri-Las. The gambit worked: Not only has Iggy given the group his blessing (calling them “a gift to the world”), he starred in the video for their 2018 single “Disaster (Is What We’re After),” spending its entire four-minute runtime chowing down on a cheeseburger with pure Warholian ambivalence. But now that they’ve fulfilled their dream of meeting Iggy in the physical world, Death Valley Girls are challenging themselves to commune with him in the metaphysical one, by channelling the animalistic abandon and sax-blasted ferocity of the Stooges at their Fun House freakiest. Under the Spell of Joy is not a soundtrack for eating cheeseburgers—it’s music for barfing up the poison in your soul.
Death Valley Girls have always dabbled in the language and iconography of the occult—the title Under the Spell of Joy isn’t much of a thematic stretch for a group whose repertoire already includes “Love Spell”—but this time they dial down the camp to harness its sinister allure and ceremonial grandeur. They’ve also grown their flock of parishioners, adding Delta 72 frontman/Cat Power sideman Gregg Foreman on keyboards, album MVP Gabe Flores on sax, and a small cast of singing children to enhance the commune vibe. And yet, for all its black-mass organ drones, apocalyptic sax squeals, and demonic girl-group chants, Under the Spell of Joy is an album that radiates positivity, a psych-punk self-help manual that suggests finding happiness in a world of shit requires some black-magick intervention.

Recently, Bloomgarden has spent less time name-dropping musical heroes than philosophical ones, like psychedelic oracle Terence McKenna and occult historian Mitch Horowitz, and their liberation philosophies permeate her lyric sheet. She spends most of this record floating—up in clouds, through dreams, into alternate realms—as a means to free herself from the demands of everyday life and realize her true potential. “Highlight what you see, this is the dream,” she shouts atop the hypnotic bass throb and scrambled sax frequencies of “Hypnagogia,” before enshrining her self-affirmations as a daily ritual: “Rise, shine, and repeat!” The winsome Ronettes-via-“Sister Ray” romp “Bliss Out” is even more explicit in its live-for-the-moment directives: “Be here right now, ’cause we’re all gonna die,” Bloomgarden sings, leaving us with the reassurance that “we’re just traveling time/we’re all in the sky/so bliss out.”

But even as it revels in new-age proselytizing, Under the Spell of Joy never treats inner peace as a given—it’s something achieved by going on the offensive, by engaging in continual struggle. The title track’s heavy soul-punk stomp transforms its circular mantra—“under the spell of joy/under the spell of love”—into a war cry, while the “10 Day Miracle Challenge” reframes Horowitz’s namesake motivational strategy as a blistering garage-punk attack on complacency and insecurity. Under the Spell of Joy’s most effective advice arrives in the form of its mesmerizing centerpiece “The Universe,” where Death Valley Girls not only offer a design for life, but immediately put it into action. “Live freer than the freedom that you trust/Dream bigger than the things that lift you up,” Bloomgarden preaches, as the band break free from their garage-punk roots and ascend to the realm of spiritual psych-jazz rockestra atop a cloudbed of misty organ drones and saxophone smog. It’s quite the dramatic turn of events for a band whose concept of joy used to involve watching horror movies on TV and going to the disco. But Death Valley Girls are ready to forgo simple pleasures in pursuit of eternal ecstasy.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Death Valley Girls - Under the Spell of Joy Music Album Reviews Death Valley Girls - Under the Spell of Joy Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, November 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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