California's L.A. Witch
have been gaining momentum ever since they joined The Kills
for the North American leg of their 2016 tour and they show no signs of stopping. Their debut sounds incredibly polished and mature, no doubt because they put three straight years of touring under their studded leather belts before recording their self-titled.
While retro in vibe, Sade Sanchez (vocals/guitar), Irita Pai (bass), and Ellie English (drums) managed to conjure up a sound that is undeniably fresh. Their music reminds me of the Pulp Fiction
soundtrack, but they also wouldn't have been out of place if they were standing between Nine Inch Nails
, The Cactus Blossoms, and Lissie
onstage at David Lynch's Bang Bang Bar in the Twin Peaks
Revival. They're clearly influenced by classic surf and rockabilly, but they infuse the familiar with a gothic darkness that sets them apart.
This "creepabilly" sound belongs in dive bars and desert roads. Driving - or drifting - is a clear theme on the album, from the cover art to the song titles. One of the few songs re-recorded for the album, "Drive Your Car," is a stand-out track with its sense of urgency. The rest of the album slithers rather than races, and the overall slow pace of songs like "Get Lost" and "Brian" sends a message that you may be getting out of town but you're still going nowhere. Overall, the lyrics on this album are restrained but they aren't emotionless. Everything about them screams "cool," even when Sanchez is muttering about how she's going to kill her baby so she can keep him forever.
Sanchez's muddy vocals slur together, making you feel as faded as your favorite vintage denim, but English's expert precision on the drums provides a constant heartbeat to bring you back just in time for an infectious bassline or guitar riff. L.A. Witch chose an apt name for themselves. It's difficult not to fall into some sort of occultish trance while losing yourself in their nine tracks.