In the dimly lit interior of a small nightclub, where the stale smell of a thousand extinguished cigarettes drowns out the smell of spilt beer and broken dreams, a band plays against a backdrop of cheap golden tinsel. Outside, palm trees line the night’s horizon. In the years to come, the streets will swell into highways and interstates, but for now Los Angeles is still a young city growing daily with transplants from across the United States, all looking for a new life. It’s still a city largely cut off from the rest of the country, and in the years before the Manson family forever tarnishes the infinite hope of the Western enclave and before the Hell’s Angels of Altamont interrupt rock n’ roll’s peaceful trajectory with unprecedented violence, there is still a dreamy California sound for those dark rooms suffused with neon light. The three women of L.A. Witch wouldn’t be born for several decades, but their sound transports you back to those warm Californian nights in smoky rooms.
The name is a partial misnomer. Though the band hails from Los Angeles, they do not partake in any sort of witchcraft. Yet their ability to conjure a specific time and place through their sound does suggest a kind of magic. On their eponymous debut album, L.A. Witch’s reverb-drenched guitar jangle and sultry vocals conjure the analog sound of a collector’s prized 45 from some short-lived footnote cult band. The melodies forgo the bubblegum pop for a druggy haze that straddles the line between seedy glory and ominous balladry; the production can’t afford Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound, but the instruments’ simple beauty provides an economic grace that renders studio trickery unnecessary; the lyrics seem more descendent of Johnny Cash’s first-person morality tales than the vacuous empty gestures of pre-fab pop bands. This isn’t music for the masses; it’s music for miscreants, burnouts, down-and-out dreamers, and obsessive historians.
Formed in February of 2016, ever since the Viennese underground scene is shaken up by their surf-ish sound. Dora De Goederen, Tamara Leichtfried and Viktoria Kirner first met at the Austrian Girls Rock Camp in 2016. In spring 2017 they’ve recorded their self-titled mini album with Austrian musician and producer Wolfgang Möstl (Mile Me Deaf, Sex Jams, Clara Luzia, Melt Downer …). This gem was released on Siluh Records in Fall 2017, including six songs as fresh and innovative as DIVES themselves. Confidence and passion are what let them finish their first album that fast and resulted in DIVES rising to a fixpoint in the Austrian Indie scene.
Friendship and mutual trust are associations popping up when seeing DIVES play live. The two-part singing of Tamara and Viktoria sticks itself to one’s memory and makes songs like “Concrete” such catchy tunes. Following the great tradition of various other Girls Rock associated acts, DIVES switch instruments and re-new what is thought to be traditional surf sound. They speak their minds, they challenge their listeners. The mini album opens with “Shrimp”, which is also the first single, accompanied by a video featuring our protagonists at pool party with a twist. In “Roof” Dora is shedding light on the issues of male privilege, accentuated by driving drums and base. Within all these complex song structures and rhythms, there’s still room for catchy melodies: On “Tomorrow” the trio opens the floor for dancing and singing along. DIVES’ music is not simple, but yet very accessible and addictive.
Their debut mini album is not a subtle statement, it’s an eye-turner, asking listeners to come along. During their short journey, DIVES already played with artists such as L.A. Witch. La Luz is another Band their sound resembles. There’s also some 80s vibe going on, while listening to DIVES associations to the early Black Tambourine or Altered Images pop up. Still, DIVES are contemporary at the pulse of modern Indie music. Since its release, their debut has been well-received by the press. German SPEX magazine sees DIVES in one line with „Indieheroes such as the Shop Assisstants, Feelies […] with influences of bands such as La Sera or Waxahatchee”.
Their music celebrates levity, the lightheartedness of juvenileness. Viktoria’s base lines offer the melody to fast-paced life-style of young adults. Supported by the impelling beats of Dora’s drums, ranging from samba rhythms to minimal accentuation. All this is belted together by Tamara’s up-front guitar playing, sometimes loosing itself in a loop-driven vortex of sound. On top of it all, impelling melodies paired with interesting voices offer a full package: DIVES are three friends, lacking all insincerity, doing what they like best – having a good time and taking the audience along on their journey.