Death Valley Girls have again dipped into their sacred well of mystical music, pulling from its murky waters a new incantation with a sweeping title, “The Universe,” and their deliciously droney sound (with some twists). Yes, it still feels as if the L.A. quartet is casting spells as much as making rock ’n’ roll.
“The Universe” is the first single from DVG’s forthcoming fourth album, “Under the Spell of Joy.” The band, guided by singer/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel, along with bassist Nicole Smith (aka Pickle) on bass and Rikki Styxx on drums, have reliably released albums in even-numbered years since their 2012 debut. The new album is out Oct. 2 via Suicide Squeeze.
“‘Under the Spell of Joy’ is a space-gospel record,” Bloomgarden says. “We believe we served as channels for what we think are guides. As we learn what the songs are about we realize they are meant to be sang like chants, hymns or spells. Most of the songs were recorded with 12 voices, including a kids choir! We are learning that words with intention and energy hold so much power, especially when said or sang with a group. ‘The Universe’ is a song to sing, a space to be, a time to think, remember and truly feel that not only are we all connected, but we are also being guided.”
“The Universe” oozes out from underneath dense keys from guest Gregg Foreman and bubbles with bursts of saxophone from guest Gabe Flores as Bloomgarden turns what could be a doomy hymn into an inspirational: “Fly higher than the highest height above / Dream bigger than the things that lift you up / Live freer than the freedom that you trust / Dream bigger than the things that lift you up,” she sings.
Produced and engineered by Mark Rains, the album derives its title from the text on a T-shirt from the San Diego psych-rock band Joy. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden says. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly.
That thinking applies to the album in general.
“The world is crazy right now and it feels like we should be doing more than just trying to perpetuate joy,” she says. “I think music becomes a part of you. Like Black Sabbath’s first record is as much a part of me as my own music. I think you can listen to music or song to get lost in it, or you can listen to music to find something in yourself or the world that either you never had or just went missing. I want people to sing to this record, make it their own and focus on manifesting their dreams as much as they can.”
Besides “The Universe,” the album features the previously released song “Dream Cleaver.”
||| Stream: “The Universe”