L.A. Witch formed slowly, summoned from the smog and sprawl of their eponymous city like a specter hovering just around the corner on your walk home. A feeling that becomes a presence that becomes a fully real thing, corporeal and strange and beautifully magnetic but always just beyond your fingertips. It’s that haunted feeling that characterizes one of the most exciting bands to emerge in the 2010s.
Over the past several years Sade Sanchez, Ellie English, and Irita Pai have put in some serious dedication to their musical witchcraft, moving up through the ranks of the LA scene of small and sweaty clubs to major tours in the US and Europe supporting such wide-ranging acts as The Kills and Uncle Acid and the deadbeats, building a reputation as the coolest of the cool. The band released their debut full length on storied indie label Suicide Squeeze in 2017 and for those that have followed them since the early days it was readily apparent that L.A. Witch was finally poised for very big things very soon.
On November 1st, 2018 the band announced a surprise release immediately available digitally with a physical vinyl release planned for early 2019. What made this announcement so special is that rather than a selection of new songs, Octubre saw L.A. Witch revisit some of their oldest material with all of the new skills and perspective earned from years on the road. The result is spectacularly retrospective while providing a taste of what’s currently marinating in the band’s sonic cauldron.
L.A. Witch prove they know how to brew a potent potion by selecting all the right ingredients. Essential flavors are all present; hauntingly detached vocals and reverb saturated guitar, simple and precise percussion, and leathery basslines meandering throughout. These are immediately timeless songs, paying sonic homage to Phil Spector’s 1960s girl groups, early garage era Rolling Stones, and the instantly recognizable guitar stylings of Link Wray but also keenly aware of how those aesthetics have evolved over the years. There are references to the overwhelming emotions of My Bloody Valentine and the psychedelic danger of Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request, with the bleak murder-ballad stylings of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds lending a feeling of theatrical gravitas to the mix.
But the true magic lies in how L.A. Witch combine these elements with a powerfully feminine perspective holding everything together. There is love in these songs and there is loss, but there is also fierce independence and a strength of character borne from struggle. The exterior may be as tough and impenetrable as a vintage motorcycle jacket, yet there is a warmth underneath. A beating heart in the darkness that longs for human connections but is very selective of those that are allowed close enough to feel it. Even in the face of imminent separation there is a yearning to hold on those connections whatever the cost, sometimes even to an obsessive level, rather than face the cruel realities of a life lived alone.
L.A. Witch is deeply reverent of the past, both that of their influences and on this EP the past of their own back catalog, and it’s this process of looking backwards through the lens of cumulated new experiences that allows them to leap forward artistically. Let yourself fall under the spell of Octubre and keep these ladies on your radar, their next act is going to be positively bewitching.