Los Angeles – Bleached is somewhere between Hole and The Donnas, with a hint of carousel.
The name sounds like what it is: dirty, beach, rock. It could be the album art that completes the vibe (a blue-stained picture of a girl dangling out of a car window, mane a-flowing), but “Ride Your Heart” plays like exalted, youthful, rebellious, hipster, California living.
Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin are the blonde, sunglasses-clad creators of Bleached, which came about after the dissolution of their former band, Mika Miko. As they describe it, Bleached is an almost accidental project, worked on via correspondence while living separately in New York and LA, and it became a testing ground for different kinds of music.
Indeed, it is a far cry from the boisterous, aggressive Mika Miko, an all-female punk band known for their trademark frenetic live shows. Formed in 2003 and a prodigy of The Smell, a Los Angeles all-ages punk/noise/experimental venue, Mika Miko toured extensively throughout the US, Europe and Japan for the better part of the decade before disbanding in 2009. Their emphasis on live shows is one that has carried over into Bleached. The girls feel their live prowess, and bonding with audience, is their best take away. But the album isn’t bad, either.
For the already veteran performers (Jennifer also played keyboard with Cold Cave and Jessica bass with Cold Showers), the new territory is a much mellower sound. Raw, semi-polished, uncomplicated. A harkening back to the early days of Ramones’s punk, mixed with a bit of grunge and pop. The aggression isn’t there. “Ride Your Heart” has a lighter, more lackadaisical feel. Wander-y, optimistic, sweet, a bit hazy, all while riding the simplicity and enthusiasm of the trademark punk beat. The lyrics vary from the more thought-provoking (“Dead in Your Head”) to the more traditional, dim-witted punk lyrics (“Looking for a Fight.”) Overall it is fun, dreamy, and likeable. And quick—most of the songs are less than three minutes, some barely two.
It is also rather uncanny how much this album sounds like California. It’s an image inducing experience: Carnival lights, PCH, PBR, beach, summer nights, smog, one-story buildings, cracked pavement. The “California” theme is one way past saturation, musical or otherwise, but for this it works. The album sounds like California, without touting it. It just naturally is, like the girls themselves, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley and first started playing music in high school out of their garage. But mostly, the album’s about love.
It is an exciting new start for the sisters, who are currently finishing a busy end of summer/fall season: A European tour, and before that a North American tour. It will be interesting to watch their progress, and to see if the band continues in the vein that it was started—as a soundboard for adaptation.
A highlight is “Dead in Your Head,” probably the best song on the album, but all the songs are good.