Is it some sort of magic to conjure a brand new song out of the air? To cast a spell over an audience that keeps them mesmerized from opening chords to the final, clamouring crescendo?
Despite the name, L.A. Witch claim not to partake in any sort of witchcraft, though they do admit to their Los Angeles heritage. Yet their music has an under-worldliness that wouldn’t be out of place beside a cauldron or two. And there are three of them, all female, so perhaps – just maybe – Shakespeare’s weird sisters are making a comeback in the 21st century in psych-rock form.
Their self-titled debut album, L.A. Witch, pulls together several tracks which were previously released as singles with new songs, creating a hard-hitting collection that encapsulates the band’s no-nonsense, reverb-pulsing style. Opening with “Kill My Baby Tonight”’s distinctly ’60s pop intro (did The Animals ever get out of that place? Did Gerry and the Pacemakers’ ferry ever get across the Mersey?), Sade Sanchez brings in her edgy, aggressive vocal, leaving no doubt that this is rock – nasty, in-your-face rock that makes neo-punk sound tame.
Who is “Brian”? He is slow, he is pulsating,and we guess he sweats a lot, too. Heavily instrumental, this track defies the listener to overwrite their story, triggering recollections of bleak nights in back alleys. But before things get too dark, “Untitled” pops in a country vibe. Sanchez is no Dolly Parton, though. A caller for a night of zombie line-dancing, she places her inimitable vocal challenge into the genre while bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English provide a driving backdrop to her tripping, rocking guitar.
Melding early The Beatles (including Ringo’s cheeky tambourine moments) into film-noir, L.A. Witch unleashes “You Love Nothing”. Avoiding nihilism with the merest whisker of chirpy pop musicality, this is a ballad of latent admiration for cold-hearted rejection. And while we’re talking about The Beatles, “Drive Your Car” may well be a modern feminist response to their 1965 call “Drive My Car”. There’s something compelling in the music here, too. Those Witches can rock their instruments!
Echoing with the impending doom of an outlaw in town, “Baby In Blue Jeans” is measured and unhurried in its delivery. Registering a confidence that could be arrogant – except it comes from three years on the road, honing their sound, and knowing what really works – the song just sticks in your head, and if played on vinyl, there might be a temptation to move the speed up a notch. It’s deliberate; the band describes their sound as a “slow-mo take on a well-worn jukebox 7-inch.” “Feel Alright” enters at the same sauntering pace, but just when you think you’ve got the measure of the music it pops up a gear or three. Whatever the tempo, there’s energy in the sound that maintains an edge-of-the-seat attention and begs the question, “What could L.A. Witch do live with a room full of psych-rock music lovers?”
Penultimate track “Good Guys” pushes and pulls on a punk vibe. Sneering along with the best of them, there is no soft side to the delivery as it crashes into “Get Lost” – the ultimate sign-off for an album that takes no prisoners and demands to be heard on its own terms, and on repeat.
There are tour dates happening now, including several dates in Europe. Click here for details.
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