Release Date: Oct 8, 2013
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It all ends with a moving snippet in which Deap Vally remind us – a cappella except for a tambourine – that constancy is important and that old people were young once. They may be direct, but Deap Vally are certainly not as straightforward as they might appear..
This LA-based female duo comes barreling out of the gates with a debut album full of seething guitar riffs and roaring drums. It’s 11 songs of nonstop, downright raunchy blues with lyrics that ooze malcontent and feminism. Sure, it’s not breaking any new ground, but once you hear the tambourine-backed singing tacked onto the last track, you realize these girls have a hell of a lot of soul, something a lot of today’s blues music lacks.
Full of ragged, primitive, and stomping hard rock rhythms, distorted and greasy blues riffs, and shouted, shrieking vocals, the San Fernando duo Deap Vally, made up of guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards, sound like the White Stripes or the Black Keys made over from the female side of things, with a sound that hits the same crunchy, thumping, swampy groove and looseness. Never mind that they met in a crochet class; these women can rock and make noise with the loudest and brashest out there, and their songs seethe with lust and frustration, pride and anger, drugs, drinking, and partying, with Troy's ragged, monster Led Zeppelin riffs and Edwards' wild mustang drumming keeping everything urgent and edgy. This duo aren't afraid of being political, either, or feminist, and some of their songs can be like impassioned, raging sermons, but they rock like hell, full of chaos and conviction, and if you want to talk about Girl Power, this is it.
It always seemed to me that New York has the literal and metaphorical edge over California when it comes to music. Maybe it’s because all that sunshine softens Californians up, or that New Yorkers have no other choice but to deal with each other in close proximity, and this comes out through music. However, you could say that over the past few years Californian music has risen again, with bands like Rilo Kiley cracking multi-platinum success, so perhaps things are changing out amongst the orange groves.
In an era where two girls are more readily associated with ‘one cup’ than huge, dirty, bass-driven stomprock, Deap Vally have exploded out of California with a sound that is always going to capture the attention of anyone who wraps their ears around it. How you adjudicate it, though, is another matter. Sistrionix is so straight-up and unabashed that questions over authenticity will undoubtedly surface.
Sistrionix is only the first album by Deap Vally. Nonetheless, the Los Angeles duo have been courting the British music press for the best part of a year via a series of festival appearances, big-ticket support slots and noisy interviews. The band’s eagerness to put themselves out there in spite of the lack of recorded material is testament to the potency of their live show.
It's depressingly easy to imagine male record-company executives drooling over Deap Vally. LA-based duo Lindsey Troy (guitars) and Julie Edwards (drums) are young, glossily gorgeous and make an uncompromisingly raw racket at the crossroads where Led Zeppelin meet the White Stripes. That makes half the songs on their debut album sound much better than they are: End of the World is awful, with earnest lyrics about global love relentlessly repeated over a rudimentary riff and dragging drum line; Raw Material is worse, all princessy squeal and guitar puke.
Californian rock duo Deap Vally tend not to wear a huge amount of clothing, something that seems to have caused a low level tizz in some corners of the indieverse. I guess I can see both sides of the argument – on the one hand they should clearly be allowed to wear what the fuck they want, and it seems to me like there's something uncomfortably akin to slut-shaming in the more vehement criticisms. On the other hand, there's surely something calculatedly attention grabbing about it all, and I suppose if you’re the sort of person who finds Anthony Keidis and Flea trooping rounding the semi-altogether a bit off-putting, it’s only consistent to extend that to the ladies.
Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy are making explicitly feminist music, but there’s almost nothing feminine about it. The Los Angeles duo known as Deap Vally employ a sound and style that’s been generally tagged as “masculine” — mostly just because a good proportion of women choose not to make this kind of music. Troy on electric guitar and Edwards on drums (who met in a crocheting class in Los Angeles) receive comparisons to Jack White and Led Zeppelin on a regular basis.
Some are born controversial. Some cause controversy. And some knit their own pullovers. It can be said that the reception given to Deap Vally by the music press so far has been somewhat mixed, alternately enthusiastic (Kitty Empire), borderline sarcastic (another Guardian writer), politely informative (some other magazines) and namedropping Jack White and Robert Plant in the same sentence (Deap Vally themselves).
‘Baby I call hell!’ lead singer/guitarist and Deap Vally girl Lindsey screams – and it’s a scorcher! I’ll add to that, and say baby I call hell yes! Hell yes to this record, hell yes to two hot tin-roof LA women who kick ass and don’t give a toss about much else but rockin’ and rollin’. And if this is what hell sounds like, I wanna be condemned. The yelps, caterwauling and guttural screams come to you from a rich line of influence including Janis and Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux fame.
Deap Vally first burst onto the scene with an angry, pounding manifesto of intent; “I’m gonna make my own money, gonna buy my own land. ’ They’ve got the same basic idea at heart, but their absolutely frenetic and slightly terrifying brand of rock makes Virginia Woolf look rather meek in comparison. Playing off the two sparse elements of the band with thrashing aggression, much of this album is grating series of notes held up by crashing drums and Troy’s unstoppable vocals that roar and screech in one onslaught.