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Ear to the Ground: Death Valley Girls’ “No Reason”

June 4, 2014

It’s easy to mistake Death Valley Girls for a biker gang. First of all, the members of this snarling garage-rock quartet all look like they jumped out from the pages of Karlheinz Weinberger's Rebel Youth (an amazing book documenting '50s and '60s juvenile gangs). And at any one of their shows, a row of ratty, raked-out choppers can be seen lined up in classic motorcycle-club formation.

Even their names are reminiscent of vintage biker B-movies: Bonnie Bloomgarden is the leader of the pack. Peering out from a straight line of jet-black bangs is a bass player who just goes by “Rocky.” Death Valley Girls also have a secret weapon in Patty Schemel from Hole on drums. Her brother Larry plays fuzz-heavy guitar like he just might be the bastard son of Davie Allan.

Speaking of guitar, you'd be hard-pressed to find a meaner one than the opening riff for “No Reason,” the most menacing song from DVG’s debut album Street Venom. It basically sounds like Larry plugged his guitar straight into a hornet hive and then kicked it. When the rhythm section kicks in, Patty and Rocky give the song a sinister kind of rumble that would make Link Wray proud. Bloomgarden’s snotty, bratty vocal sneer cements their sound with old-school girl-gang attitude. deathvalleygirls.bandcamp.com