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Ear to the Ground: Bonfire Beach's “Spit U Out”

In the mood for sultry noise rock? Dexy Valentine sounds like she was born to keep rock ’n’ roll dangerous.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, being a Southern California garage-rock band meant adhering to period-correct tones, gear, and aesthetics of the 1960s. Thankfully, the anachronism police of yesteryear have moved on, grown up, or vanished into their Etsy stores. And this leaves bands like L.A.’s Bonfire Beach a lot more creative freedom than the Vox-guitar-and-Beatle-boot-clad set of yesteryear.

You also have to commend Bonfire Beach for scaling down its lineup to a simple quartet. (What is it with all those Los Angelino garage/shoegaze hybrid bands having between seven to 10 people onstage just to create a simple sound, anyway?)

To be fair, Bonfire Beach’s “Spit U Out” has more in common with Love and Rockets or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club than bands like the Warlocks or Brian Jonestown Massacre. It starts with Steven Fleet’s sinister fuzz riffing over a seductive beat provided by Charlie Woodburn and Brandon Robert’s pulsing, voluptuous bass lines. But it’s not until guitar strumming chanteuse Dexy Valentine comes in that the song takes life. Her haunting tenor is as alluring as a young Debbie Harry filtered through the dark charisma of Alison Mosshart.