Burger Records seems like the fry cooks of records labels (no pun intended), consistently promulgating artists that share the same fuzzy, lo-fi sound. So many artists, in fact, that one begins to wonder if they regard quantity over quality. But rest assured, among the myriad of sub-par psych and garage acts, there are remarkable gems destined to move on to bigger, and perhaps more selective, labels. Death Valley Girls is one of those bands.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean to denigrate the label or the artists that are on their roster. In fact, Burger is very successful at promoting many up-and-coming LA acts and giving them a platform for exposure. However, as long as Death Valley Girls maintain the spirit of their self-proclaimed “California doom boogie,” they will most likely look back on Burger in future years as a stepping stone on their path to success.
Death Valley Girls only formed three years ago, but they’re rapidly picking up steam around the LA scene and beyond. The (mostly) girl group likes to regard themselves as a “sexually liberated dystopian chain-gang” fixated on aliens, mummies, and the supernatural. When you listen to their most recent release, 2016’s Glow In The Dark, you’ll hear these obsessions manifest themselves through punk-infused rock ‘n’ roll evocative of The Runaways, Blondie, and The Breeders (also three gals and guy).
The band was formed by Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel in Echo Park, and now consists of the two founders plus Jesse Jones and the ferocious Laura Kelsey, aka “The Kid.” The band believes in embracing the dark, eccentric weirdness, and the unadulterated spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. They exude an electric, dance-able energy that rarely lets up; even on more subdued tracks like “Pink Radiation,” the band exploits their “chain-gang” chanting and shrouds the instrumentals in fuzzy reverb. Bonnie’s shaky, trembling Joan Jett vocals on tracks like “Death Valley Boogie” and “Wait For You” are a huge aspect of what makes the thrashy group so spirited.
The album sounds as though it’s from another time, one when rock ‘n’ roll was a little doomy and needed to be experienced live, which is what I recommend you do if you want to get the full Death Valley Girls experience. Join the band this Thursday at The Echo as they celebrate their album release with fellow Burger artists Peach Kelli Pop, Frankie and The Witch Fingers, and Burger Records DJs.
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