In the dimly lit interior of a small nightclub, where the stale smell of a thousand extinguished cigarettes drowns out the smell of spilt beer and broken dreams, a band plays against a backdrop of cheap golden tinsel. Outside, palm trees line the nights horizon. In the years to come, the streets will swell into highways and interstates, but for now Los Angeles is still a young city growing daily with transplants from across the United States, all looking for a new life. Its still a city largely cut off from the rest of the country, and in the years before the Manson family forever tarnishes the infinite hope of the Western enclave and before the Hells Angels of Altamont interrupt rock n rolls peaceful trajectory with unprecedented violence, there is still a dreamy California sound for those dark rooms suffused with neon light. The three women of L.A. Witch wouldnt be born for several decades, but their sound transports you back to those warm Californian nights in smoky rooms.
The name is a partial misnomer. Though the band hails from Los Angeles, they do not partake in any sort of witchcraft. Yet their ability to conjure a specific time and place through their sound does suggest a kind of magic. On their eponymous debut album, L.A. Witchs reverb-drenched guitar jangle and sultry vocals conjure the analog sound of a collectors prized 45 from some short-lived footnote cult band. The melodies forgo the bubblegum pop for a druggy haze that straddles the line between seedy glory and ominous balladry; the production cant afford Phil Spectors wall-of-sound, but the instruments simple beauty provides an economic grace that renders studio trickery unnecessary; the lyrics seem more descendent of Johnny Cashs first-person morality tales than the vacuous empty gestures of pre-fab pop bands. This isnt music for the masses; its music for miscreants, burnouts, down-and-out dreamers, and obsessive historians.
Album opener Kill My Baby Tonight is the perfect introduction to the bands marriage of '60s girls-in-the-garage charm and David Lynchs surreal exposs of Southern Californias underbelly. Sade Sanchezs black velvet vocals disguise the malicious intent of this murder ballad, with the thumping pulse of bassist Irita Pai, the slow-burn build of drummer Ellie English, and Sanchezs desert guitar twang helping beguile the listener into becoming a willing accomplice to the narrators crimes. Brian follows the opening track with a similarly graceful, if not somewhat ominous, slow-mo take on a well-worn jukebox 7. Its a vibe that permeates the entire album, from the early psychedelic hue of 13th Floor Elevators on tracks like You Love Nothing, through the motorik beat and fuzzed-out licks of Drive Your Car, to the grittier permutation of Mazzy Stars sleepy beauty on Baby In Blue Jeans.
L.A. Witch was recorded at Hurley Studios in Costa Mesa and mixed in Highland Park, Los Angeles, though early incarnations of several songs from the album originally surfaced on limited edition singles released over the last several years. The bands initial aspirations were humble. We never really thought we would or could release an album, the band says. We were really just finding each other and finding our sound. But after touring nearly non-stop for the last three years, L.A. Witch developed a singularly seductive, haunting, and wistful sound that enamored the garage rock, dream pop, psych, and broader indie communities.
Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to release their debut album on September 8th, 2017. L.A. Witch is available on CD, digital formats, and 1500 LPs on translucent pink vinyl with a download card.