Album of the Day: L.A. Witch, “L.A. Witch”

Over the past several years, beginning with their 2014 self-titled EP, L.A. Witch have stood out from an abundance of West Coast garage rock bands with their fresh and forceful blend of post-punk, retro girl group, and reverb-heavy psychedelic bubblegum. Recently, the trio released a handful of singles (many of which ended up on their debut LP) and have become a mainstay in Los Angeles, gigging around the city and developing a cult following with their high-energy live shows. For a group that’s already toured Europe and opened for The Kills, this debut comes with a fair bit of anticipation attached.

L.A. Witch is the ideal introduction to the group’s range, with mid-tempo shoegaze highlights like “Brian” transitioning into seamless rockabilly raveups like “Untitled.” Lead singer Sade Sanchez delivers her tales of lust and loss in a powerful howl that shifts between muffled snarl and clearly enunciated directness to great effect. “I’ve seen you ride / I’ve seen you feel like you just might die,” she sings on “Baby in Blue Jeans”; “I’ve been hypnotized / I’ve just never seen you cry.”

Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English round out a rhythm section that adds force and vigor to heavy thrashers like “Get Lost” and “Drive Your Car.” Throughout the album, the band balance the grungy melodicism of bands like Nirvana and Pixies with the blurry retro psychedelia of Brian Jonestown Massacre (a major influence) and the Cramps. The result is an arresting introductory LP that underscores the band’s newfound melodic chops while staying true to their noisy goth-grunge origins.

Jonathan Bernstein 

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