DEATH VALLEY GIRLS - Rock n’ roll has always served as a means to elevate the fringe of society, though it’s accentuated the plights of the outcasts and misfits in different ways throughout the years. In its infancy, rock was a playful rebuttal against segregation and Puritanism. In the ‘60s, it became a vehicle for an elevated consciousness. In the years following the Summer of Love and the clampdown on Flower Power, that countercultural spirit adopted the aggravated and occasionally nihilistic edge of bands like The Stooges, Black Sabbath, MC5, and The New York Dolls. And then as the ‘80s approached, popular rock n’ roll turned into a relatively benign celebration of hedonism and decadence, but that contingent of dark mystics from the ‘70s who lifted the veil and used music as a means of rallying people to altered planes had left their mark. It was an undercurrent in rock that would never die, but would percolate in corners of the underground. Today we can see it manifest in LA’s Death Valley Girls.
The group feels less like a band and more like a travelling 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. Their relentless touring schedule means that the remainder of the group is rounded out by whichever like-minded compatriots can get in the van. On their third album Darkness Rains, bassist Alana Amram, drummer Laura Harris, and a rotating cast of guests like Shannon Lay, The Kid (Laura Kelsey) and members of The Make Up, The Shivas, and Moaning help elevate the band from their rogue beginnings to a communal ritualistic musical force. On the surface level, Death Valley Girls churn out the hypercharged, in the red, scuzzy rock every generation yearns for, but there is a more subversive force percolating beneath the surface that imbues the band with an exhilarating cosmic energy.
CROCODILES - The first American group to sign with Deaf Rock Records, the duo Crocodiles released Love Is Here (The End Is Near), their seventh album this year. Electrically charged with time, the album expresses heartbreak and anxiety on a global scale. But with 20 years of friendship and music backing them, Charlie Rowell and Brandon Welchez (creators of Crocodiles) know how to take on adversity: by persevering and banding together to create 10 songs like lightning bolts in a stormy sky.
KATE CLOVER (of exSage) - With the looks of Debbie Harry and the attitude of Iggy Pop, it’s no wonder she’s setting fire to the L.A. music scene with her band ExSage. A natural-born performer, she doesn’t lack confidence on stage nor does she hesitate in trying new things in front of an audience. Her solo material is very raw and direct and in the spirit of punk rock.