L.A. Witch at The Casbah


Sat Jan 15 2022 at 09:30 pm


2501 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101 | San Diego, CA

L.A. Witch’s
self-titled debut album unfurled like hazy memories of late night
revelries in the city center creeping back in on a hungover Sunday
morning. Guitarist/vocalist Sade Sanchez purred and crooned over
jangling guitar chords, painting pictures of urban exploits, old
American haunts, and private escapades with a master’s austerity.
Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English polished the patina of the
band’s vintage sound, adding a full-bodied thump and intoxicating swing
to the album’s dusty ballads, ominous invitations, and sultry rock
songs. The album had an air of effortlessness, like these songs were
written into the fabric of the Western landscape by some past generation
and conjured into our modern world by three powerful conduits. The band
readily admits that L.A. Witch was a casual affair and that the songs
came together over the course of several years. That natural flow hit a
snag when the band’s popularity grew and they began touring regularly,
so a new strategy became necessary for their sophomore album, the
swaggering and beguiling Play With Fire. Where L.A. Witch oozed
with vibe and atmosphere, with the whole mix draped in reverb, sonically
placing the band in some distant realm, broadcast across some unknown
chasm of time, Play With Fire comes crashing out of the gate with a
bold, brash, in-your-face rocker “Fire Starter.” The authoritative
opener is a deliberate mission statement. “Play With Fire is a
suggestion to make things happen,” says Sanchez. “Don’t fear mistakes or
the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if
nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me
in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it
causes a little burn.” And by that line of reasoning, “Fire Starter”
becomes a call to action, an anthem against apathy. From there the album
segues into the similarly bodacious rocker “Motorcycle Boy”—a feisty
love song inspired by classic cinema outlaws like Mickey Rourke, Marlon
Brando, and Steve McQueen. At track three we hear L.A. Witch expand into
new territories as “Dark Horse” unfurls a mixture of dustbowl folk,
psychedelic breakdowns, and fire-and-brimstone organ lines. And from
there the band only gets more adventurous. Between their touring
schedule, studio availability, and the timeline for releasing records,
L.A. Witch found themselves with only two months to do the bulk of
writing for Play With Fire. They holed up for January and February,
essentially self-quarantining for the writing process before March’s
mandatory COVID shutdown. “As far the creative process goes, this record
is a result of sheer willingness to write,” says Sanchez. “When you sit
down and make things happen, they will happen, rather than waiting to
be inspired.” The time constraints and focused writing sessions
ultimately forced the band into new territories. “I’ve definitely
learned that having restrictions forces you to think outside the box,”
says Pai. “That structure really brings about creativity in an
unexpected and abundant way.” While L.A. Witch isn’t looking for a total
transformation, they’ve stridden boldly forward with the amped up riffs
and slashing fuzz lines of “I Wanna Lose.” Even the song’s message, a
celebration of defeat as a starting point for rebirth and redemption,
wields a kind of gravity that feels new for the band. “Gen-Z” carries a
heavy weight as well, as Sanchez ponders the rise suicide rate in a
generation raised with social media between lashings of air-raid siren
guitar leads. “Sexorexia” wields a fiery garage rock energy unmatched by
any other moment in their catalog; “Maybe the Weather” is a minor-key
country tune given the cosmic treatment of hard-tremolo keys, woozy
backward slide guitar, and heady production techniques; and “True
Believers” offers up a filthy noise-inflected punk scorcher. The album
wraps up the “Starred,” a druggy exploration of exploratory guitar
squall built on Pai’s grimy fuzz bass and English’s propulsive groove.
Over the course of Play With Fire, it feels like we’ve traversed the
history of American rock n’ roll from it’s rugged cross pollination of
blues and country music, through the psychedelia of the ‘60s, into the
early punk scene of the ‘70s, and landing at the damaged art rock of
early ‘80s New York City. Play With Fire is a bold new journey
that retains L.A. Witch’s siren-song mystique, nostalgic spirit, and
contemporary cool. Despite the stylistic breadth of the record, there is
a unifying timbre across the album’s nine tracks, as if the trio of
young musicians is bound together as a collective of old souls tapping
into the sounds of their previous youth. Suicide Squeeze is proud to
offer Play With Fire to the world on August 21, 2020 on CD/LP/CS/DIG
formats. The first LP pressing is limited to 1,500 copies worldwide—1k
on translucent yellow vinyl and 500 label exclusive copies on clear with
red and black splatter. Both cassette and vinyl come with a DL coupon.

Where is it happening?

2501 Kettner Blvd San Diego CA 92101, San Diego, United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:

Casbah San Diego

Host or Publisher Casbah San Diego

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