When you think of Californian shoegaze, Mazzy Star might come to mind. Like their predecessors, L.A. Witch put a particularly West Coast spin on things. There are overtones of rock, surf, rockabilly, and country music in the Angelina trio’s downbeat drawl. Throughout the record, layers of echo and reverb bring to mind Duane Eddy, The Tornadoes and The Shadows, along with more contemporary acts like Black Lips and Audacity. The street-fighting undertones are only exacerbated by the snarling lyrics that seem to deride and condemn in equal measure.In Sade Sanchez' voice there is a noticeable debt to L7’s Donita Sparks; she delivers a sultry vocal redolent of ‘90s PJ Harvey.
From the noir opening of ‘Kill My Baby Tonight’, L.A. Witch build an ominous atmosphere that persists to the closing notes of their recent single, ‘Get Lost’, which closes the album. A few of the songs on this eponymous debut album have seen the light of day as singles and EP tracks over the last five years, including the deceptively breezy ‘Brian’.
L.A. Witch are proponents of Massive Attack’s mantra that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing slowly.This band put the down in downbeat. To wit, the casual threat of ‘You Love Nothing’ oozes menace as it sidles up to you with razor sharp riffs. ‘Drive Your Car’ is a tale of empowerment written about an occasion when Sanchez drove Vincent Gallo’s car around Los Angeles. ‘Baby In Blue Jeans’ has a Bossanova-era Pixies feel and would fit neatly on a Tarantino soundtrack. ‘Feel Alright’ has a Pixies vibe too, while ‘Good Guys’ nods to The Kills. There’s a shared musical lineage with Primal Scream too and L.A. Witch often echo the Glaswegians' Sonic Flower Groove on this record.
L.A. Witch is an understated but fully realised debut but, ultimately, it lacks the dynamic variation to hold your interest all the way through. It becomes dull on repeat listening. The combination of languid tempos and the violent undercurrent to the music make it a compelling listen but you have to wonder how often you will come back to experience it again.