Come for the riffs, stay for the red beehive wigs (and the dog).
Sounding every bit like they’re conducting a seance on speed, mystic garage-rockers Death Valley Girls today return with a lightning-strike of a new single, “What Are the Odds.” The song introduces the quartet’s fifth full-length, “Islands in the Sky,” out Feb. 24 via Suicide Squeeze Records.
Not that they’re playing to conspiracy theorists (or fans of “The Matrix”), but singer-guitarist Bonnie Bloomgarden is wondering, “What are the odds that / We live in a simulated world.” The chorus makes it more definitive, while offering a nifty twist on Madonna: “We are living in a simulated world / And we are simulated girls!”
DVG bassist Samantha Westervelt directs the video, which is partially set at a pool party that may or may not exist in a parallel universe.
Bloomgarden says of the new song: “When we wrote [2016’s] ‘I’m a Man Too’ we were trying to revisit No Doubt’s ‘I’m Just a Girl,’ but through a new lens. ‘What Are the Odds’ is in the same way an investigation/revisitation of Madonna’s ‘Material Girl,’ but with a DVG spin. We love to think about consciousness, and existence, and we very much believe in some type of reincarnation, but also that this experience isn’t linear, there isn’t a past and future, there’s something else going on! What is it? Is it a simulation, are we simulated girls??!”
The album began to take shape when Bloomgarden and drummer Rikki Styxx retreated to a cabin in the California woods on New Year’s Day 2022. With guitarist Larry Schemel spking the mix and the addition of new bassist and co-lead singer Westervelt, the band made “Islands in the Sky” at Mark Rains’ Station House Studio in Echo Park.
That followed a five-month period during the pandemic during which Bloomgarden was bedridden with what in the press announcement described as a “mysterious illness.” She explains: “When I was sick I had to sleep most of the day. I kept waking up every few hours with an intense message to take care of the island, feed the island …I have no idea why, but making music for the island kept coming up.
“When I was sick, I started to wonder if it would be possible to write a record with messages of love to my future self. This was really the first time that I consciously thought about my own suffering and what future me might need to hear to heal. I struggled so much in my life with mental health, abuse, PTSD and feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. And I don’t want anyone — including my future self — to suffer ever again. I realized that if we are all part of one cosmic consciousness, as we [Death Valley Girls] believe, then ‘Islands in the Sky’ could serve not only as a message of love and acceptance to myself, but also from every self to every self, because we are all one.”
Even if, it seems, a simulated one.
||| Watch: The video for “What Are the Odds”
||| Previously: “When I’m Free,” “Under the Spell of Joy” (album), “Under the Spell of Joy,” “Hold My Hand,” “The Universe,” Quarantunes, Live at the Lodge Room, “Dream Cleaver,” “Disaster (Is What We’re After),” “Glow in the Dark” (album), Live at the Echoplex, “Disco,” Live at the Echo, “I’m a Man, Too,” “Glow in the Dark”