I first discovered Los Angeles’ garage-blues duo Deap Vally in August, when skimming through a set of photos taken by Spin Magazine at San Francisco’s 2013 Outside Lands Festival. In the set were two photos of Deap Vally in the middle of a song. The first photo shows vocalist/guitarist Lindsey Troy banging out a chord on her Fender Mustang guitar, her hands blurred and her hair flying in front of her face. The second features drummer Julie Edwards whipping her own hair towards the sun, her eyes closed in an expression of rock and roll bliss.
I can’t quite explain it, but there was something about those photos that struck a chord with me. I discovered the band’s video for “Gonna Make My Own Money,” and I was amazed at the juxtaposition between the imagery of the video (Troy and Edwards eating pizza, swimming and being friends) and song’s gritty, fuzz-filled sound. I was hooked, but I was also dismayed to see that their debut album, “Sistrionix,” had no release date at the time. Last week, however, I saw it sitting on the new releases rack at Newbury Comics.
“Sistrionix” opens with “End of the World,” a pounding, optimism-preaching blues-rock anthem that immediately turns the energy and guitar distortion up to 11. Next comes the brazenly feminist “Baby I Call Hell,” an empowering tune that sets the lyrical tone for the rest of the album. “If you wanna serve me/show me you deserve me,” snarls Troy.
“Walk of Shame” shoves slut-shaming right back into the face of misogynists, “Gonna Make My Own Money” is a brilliant brag-track about independence, and the wickedly funny “Creep life” needs to be heard to be fully understood. “Your Love” flips traditional gender roles, featuring Lindsey Troy shouting at her cheating lover: “You are mine/you are mine/you belong to me!”
“Lies,” an angry breakup song, showcases the duo’s impressive instrumental skills with syncopated drum beats and multifaceted guitar parts. The band’s troublemaking image is solidified with the extremely catchy “Bad For My Body,” as the chorus sings, “if our mothers only knew/the trouble that we get into.” “Woman of Intention” and “Raw Material” both introduce a tinge of soul influence to their pounding riffs and blasting choruses, and the nine-minute closing track “Six Feet Under” is a badass blues jam in the vein of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Derek Trucks.
Deap Vally is excellent and “Sistrionix” is a creative and layered piece of loud, angry blues-rock that’s the rawest and most confident I’ve heard in years. Lindsey Troy plays guitar as fuzzy as Jack White, and Julie Edwards’ drumming gives The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney a run for his money.
It is great to see an unapologetically feminist perspective in a world populated majorly by guys in skinny jeans singing about breakups, especially an album executed so well. I may have waited a while for “Sistrionix,” but it was absolutely worth it.