L.A. Witch - Play with Fire

L.A. Witch (composed of singer/guitarist Sade Sanchez, bassist Irita Pai, and drummer Ellie English) deliver a powerfully haunted experience on their sophomore album Play With Fire. Sanchez’s guitar work and ethereal vocals take center stage here, fusing droning guitar groans and distorted blues licks that coalesce into a unique style that sounds like if The Cramps really liked My Bloody Valentine. These influences underpin the entire album, but can especially be heard on the opening track, “Fire Starter”, where Sanchez’s distorted, dirty guitar work sounds as if the spirit of Link Wray came back from the dead to haunt the song, while “True Believer” is a energetic punk cacophony, fit with droning, shoegaze-esque guitars that fill the listener’s ear to the brim with sinister buzzes. The band even incorporates country influences on “Maybe the Weather” which seems like the soundtrack for some sort of zombie-western hybrid - capped with one of the most intriguing guitar sections I have heard in a while - and on “Dark Horse” where an unexpected acoustic guitar takes center stage. However, the relatively relaxed country departure on “Dark Horse” is interrupted by an abrupt switch to one of Sanchez’s assaulting, fuzzy solos, accompanied by a driving baseline courtesy of Pai and an organ that imbues the section with a “rock and roll funeral” vibe.

Throughout the album Sanchez’s ghostly vocals creep atop the instrumentation as if she is casting some sort of hex on the audience, hopping back and forth from sedated croons (“Motorcycle Boy”) to vocal attacks (“True Believer”). Lyrically, the album is packed with sharp political commentary, ranging from empowering feminist athems (Sexorexia) to poking fun at All Lives Matter (again “True Believer), that coelesces with the darkness of the music to perfectly reflect the turbulent, often scary times we live. Play With Fire is a great album to play both in the cemetery and at the Monster Mash, combining sombre tones with breakneck thrashes, while retaining an element of ghoulish horror throughout. With this release, L.A. Witch positions themselves as a promising band to keep an eye on, and I know that I will be waiting in anticipation to see what they cook-up next in their cauldron.

-- Zac Zibaitis

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