Admittedly, when I first heard the name L.A. Witch, I thought they would sound a whole lot different than they actually do. I expected hair metal from some tired and ruthlessly worn out Sunset Strip party bros, maybe a mullet or two, definitely a lot of studded leather, a couple scarves thrown in for good measure and songs about strippers and blow -- stuff like that. I had no such (bad) luck. Just goes to show: You just never know what you’ll get before you press play.
Instead, a mix of forlorn pysch folk, lethargic lo-fi blues and boozy garage rock drones steeped in moody, drugged-out surf reverb hit my stereo when I turned on L.A. Witch’s debut self-titled EP [listen/buy it here]. Although the band (who are set to play the Hideout on May 25) settle in somewhere between Dum Dum Girls, Velvet Underground and Warpaint, they almost seem like they’re from another dimension altogether.
The trio (comprised of guitarist/singer Sade Sanchez, bassist/keyboardist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English) just as easily throw down the scuzzy Black Rebel Motorcycle-style jam of “Get Lost” before switching gears entirely for the very next song -- the dreary acoustic, goth sway of “Heart of Darkness.” Never sounding precise or overly rehearsed, the group is all about ramshackle hypnotism -- each song threatening complete disintegration amid broken guitar strings, blown amps, barely-there structure and a monumental amount of ennui.
Knowing that sound is only half the battle these days, L.A. Witch complete their vintage ‘60s psych rock aesthetic with the near-grindhouse feel of their first official video [watch it here], filtered through a kaleidoscope lens and grainy, Super 8 film footage. “Save me from myself,” Sanchez sings throughout, the words falling from her mouth like a slow-cooked insult rather than a request.
With only the odd compilation single here and there and the three-song Manimal Vinyl EP to their name, it’s hard to know exactly what L.A. Witch are all about. If these tunes are any indication, though, they could probably care less about identity, hype and expectations. They'll be just fine.
Even if they’re not hair metal.