On their newest record, Under The Spell Of Joy feels like a blast into a subsonic 1970’s revival where the psychedelic rock foundations never died but instead were built upon to form sculptures of sound. Consisting under the direction of Nikki ‘Pickle’ Smith on bass, Rikki Styxx covers the thumping percussive sections and backing vocals as well. Also featuring is Gregg Foreman on the organ and synths and perhaps the central minds of Larry Schemel and Bonnie Bloomgarden who together cover the guitar work while Bloomgarden uses her vocal apparencies as driving forces.
Throughout the massive attack of 11 tracks over 38 minutes, much of the awe of Under The Spell Of Joy comes from Death Valley Girls chemistry together both on and off the stage. Especially on the more charismatic tracks like “Hold My Hand” which through depth and layering, become solid walls of sound to the amps. Through the intense bass work from Smith or the forgiving use of feedback on the guitars, Death Valley Girls are the perfect blend of both beauty and acidity.
When the title cut “Under The Spell Of Joy” breaks through the glass membrane, Death Valley Girls recruit Gabe Flores for the underlying saxophone that eventually controls the track. While the vocalists all chant together “Under the spell of joy” like a cultish backing, the saxophone comes in to be more destructive than constructive. With percussive and guitar being the repetitive mantra, the horns are illicit and form a fantastic emotional draw.
This hypnotizing continues throughout much of Under The Spell Of Joy but is eerily present from the organ from Laura ‘The Kid’ Kelsey that mesmerizes and bonds to the audience. This is where the early flower power theme enters and rather than decimating or dominating the mind, seems to expand and really push thought forward.
For what seems like a millennium, bands like Death Valley Girls needed a mainstage stamp in the cosmic playlist for their ability to absolutely gather every eye in the room. From their electrifying performances to their conquering stance on sound, Under The Spell Of Joy is a medicine that not only goes down smooth but begs for more servings after.