RSVP HERE: Death Valley Girls Stream via Levitation Sessions + MORE

Photo Credit: David Fearn

Looking to unblock your pineal gland with some otherworldly guidance this fall? You’re in luck! Los Angeles proto-punk psych-rock band Death Valley Girls will open your third eye with their new space gospel soaked record Under the Spell of Joy due out October 2nd. Dipping their feet into the Akashic records isn’t new territory for the band, who are brave enough to write their lyrics the morning before they record with the help of spirits from other layers of our universe. Their latest record was inspired from the text of t-shirt that guitarist/vocalist Bonnie Bloomgarden wore every day for five years – its words ‘Under the Spell of Joy’ became a motto and inspiration for Bloomgarden to manifest her desires. With Larry Schemel on guitar, she wrote the record with the intention to bring people together with its hypnotic choirs and chorus’ to chant along to. The next chance to raise your vibration with Death Valley Girls live is the Levitation Sessions livestream via Seated on Saturday, September 5th! We chatted with Bloomgarden about her favorite alien race, connecting to alternate dimensions and the pandemic’s effect on her views of life, death and societal growth.

AF: What experiences, records, and other media forms inspired your upcoming release Under the Spell of Joy?

BB: The main sources of inspiration were studying the dream state, Terrence McKenna, trying to access the akashic records, the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast, his guest Mitch Horowitz, and learning about Neville Goddard.

AF: After writing a record that channels something from “somewhere in the future,” has your perspective on what the future holds changed?

BB: The more I think about it, I think what we channeled was not necessarily in the future or the past or even time as we understand it at all! I think we just connected to an energy, alternate dimension, or some type of higher being and that gave us access to these songs.

AF: Do you feel like the pandemic as a whole will lead to a greater spiritual evolution/awakening for society?

BB: We believe so, because we have to. It is horrible and terrible that anyone has to suffer or that our society seems like it has to completely implode for justice to prevail. However, the only way we can look at this all is as an opportunity for growth. When we grow we become strong and compassionate; this is just part of that journey.

AF: What have you learned in the past few months about yourself as a musician and how you operate as a band?

BB: Mostly the last few months I’ve realized I was only a musician the last few years, not really a human. We were on the road like five tours a year for I think three years. I built no life for myself at all! I basically gave everything I had energetically for a month on tour, then cocooned silently in my room until we had another tour, nothing in between. Now that we don’t have tour I’m learning how to not cocoon (while also quarantining, so that’s pretty far out!). I got my first plant! And got a printer so I can make art. Trying to get excited about stuff like that.

AF: Now that the fall is creeping up on us, do you have any accounts of paranormal activities you’d like to share? Are you partial to any specific alien race?

BB: Haha! I’m not actually a contactee! I’m involved with contactee and abductee support groups, but I’m not one myself. I definitely love the Pleiadians and their message. I would love to hear from them someday!

AF: I read in a past interview that you were kind of excited for end times because you really want to have a compound to be with your friends. Have you created or thought out your apocalypse compound or have any other doomsday plans?

BB: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it non-stop! I lived on a compound-esque farm in upstate New York so I kind of have an idea of what I would want. And if I were alone in the world I would definitely make it happen. But I live with my little nephews now, and being with them and them being safe is the most important thing. Freedom and compound will come when the world is safe for them!

AF: Have these past months in lockdown changed your views on life, death, the afterlife, and spiritual transcendence?

BB: That’s a good question! When I thought about the black plague or other major world altering events I never really thought of the individual people and their experiences. I think this time has given me a new perspective in the sense that we are like caretakers for the earth. We come and go and teach and learn, and in the end hopefully we leave the earth better than we found it.

AF: What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond?

BB: Learn, grow, create, write, sing, fight, love, and on and on…

RSVP HERE for Death Valley Girls via Levitation Sessions on 9/5, 8pm ET. $3.98-100

More great livestreams this week…

9/4 Patti Smith via Murmrr Theatre. RSVP HERE

9/4 Long Neck, Cheekface, Shay, Diners and Pinkshit via Twitch. 7pm ET, RSVP HERE

9/5 Death to Museums: Organizing + Mutual Aid via YouTube. 12 ET, RSVP HERE 

9/5 I’m Talking to White People: Your Role in the Fight For Justice by Kenny A. Burrell. 11am ET, $50, RSVP HERE

9/7 The New Colossus Fest: Blushing, Ceremony East Coast, Elijah Wolf, Jelly Kelly, Michael Rault, Pearl Charles  via YouTube. 5pm ET, RSVP HERE 

9/9 + 9/10 Margo Price via FANS – Live from Brooklyn Bowl Nashville. 8pm ET, RSVP HERE

9/9 Devendra Banhart via Noonchorus. 9pm ET, $15, RSVP HERE

9/10 LA Witch (album release party) via DICE. 10pm ET, $11.30, RSVP HERE

9/10 DEHD via KEXP at home. 4pm ET, RSVP HERE

Track Review: Rodrigo Amarante “Tardei”


Brazilian singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante is best known for his work with Little Joy, Los Hermanos and Orquestra Imperial, but it’s the very personal journey back to Rio that informs his first solo record, Cavalo.  Out in May in the US via Easy Sound, Cavalo (that’s horse in Portuguese, but also Amarante’s conceptual alter-ego) was released in Brazil last year. In an artist statement, Amarante described the development of this album, written in many lands, as a strange and enlightening experience. “It was as a foreigner, separated from others and yet still somehow attached to the furniture I had left behind, bits of myself I hung up around me like dead mirrors I could no longer turn my face to, that came to focus the beauty of the empty room ahead, a hint,” he says.  The first single, “Hourglass” provided a lively introduction, but Amarante slows things down quite a bit for his latest offering, “Tardei,” the final track on the record.  Featuring the likes of Fabrizio Moretti, Kristen Wiig, Devendra Banhart, Adam Green, and Josiah Steinbrick as a backing choir, it’s a fitting and memorable swan song for the heady record.

While comedian Kristen Wiig’s appearance seems surprising, Moretti’s involvement as drummer in Little Joy makes a natural bedfellow for Amarante, though here Moretti lends only vocals. Devendra Banhart’s explorations of Latin flair within the New Weird America movement fall in line alongside Amarante’s style, and it’s likely that producer and multi-instrumentalist Josiah Steinbrick brought in Adam Green as he is a frequent collaborator of both Banhart and Green. On the surface, putting these voices together seems arbitrary, but they are all connected in some way – as musicians representing different genres, as non-musicians, as Latinos, as Americans, as friends.  And they remain mostly anonymous, featured as a ghostly chorus rather than brought to the forefront.

That element of “Tardei” is a great example of the explorations that inform the album; the song is full of smokey darkness, though it remains fairly minimal. Cavalo hinges on looking at oneself from a distance, a kind of depersonalization that allowed Amarante to discover his own interiority. It thinks of the human body and mind as a space that can be explored. Amarante’s words make this concept vivid: “To give room to this double that appears as an echo, that shows itself with distance reflected, I opened up space as much as I knew how, subtracted all undue, threw adjectives away and using different languages I was forced to a new conciseness.” The echoic, almost lo-fi qualities to the track make it feel like an ephemeral artifact, hearkening to a frightening open sky in an unknown place, or the feeling of being lost in the wilderness of a strange city. Amarante sings with powerful enunciation – even as a non-Portuguese speaker, it is easy to understand which words have more power than others. There’s something incredibly visual about the background singing which strikes a chord between ominous and beckoning, traits brought out by Amarante’s stoic humming and simple strumming.

Give “Tardei” a listen with a window nearby, so as to let your thoughts drift with this enchanting melody. And don’t forget to check out the rest of Cavalo: