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Deap Vally is empowering women through music

L.A. duo Deap Vally merges hard-partying feminism with rock-and-roll and has been compared with groups such as the Black Keys and the White Stripes. Deap Vally plays the Troubadour on Tuesday night.

August 13, 2013|By August Brown
  • Julie Edwards, left, and Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally.
Julie Edwards, left, and Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally. (Bryan Sheffield )

The two women of Deap Vally are really bummed out by the idea of a walk of shame. You know, the ritualistic morning skulk back home after hooking up with someone you probably won't call again.

They're not torn up about the hookup part, though. It's the shame that seems dumb.

"We always knew we wanted to write about that idea of a 'Walk of Shame,'" said drummer and co-vocalist Julie Edwards. "It always bugged me, that there's this neurosis that just turns on in your head afterwards."

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The titular song, off the duo's October major-label full length "Sistrionix," is a two-minute blues-noise fire-breather that will make you muss your hair and enjoy the wide-eyed morning stares from patrons at your local coffee shop. It also sums up the task that the L.A. duo, with singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy, is up to — taking the hard-partying feminism often found in today's pop, but playing it with enough rock-and-roll skill that could make a 1970s Robert Plant stand up and salute (see for yourself at the Troubadour on Tuesday night).

Deap Vally forged its fuzz-scorched minimalism on the Silver Lake and Echo Park club gauntlet over the last couple years, earning loads of live-set praise and a Coachella slot on strength of its early 2013 E.P. "Get Deap."

Edwards' drumming is unfussy, pointed and powerful; Troy's guitar-playing is a primer on high-volume, high-distortion expression. "I used to get condescending looks from stage crews, like 'Do you need any help?'" Edwards said. "But after the show, they've usually learned their lesson for the day."

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There are plenty of recent reference points for a duo indebted to vintage rock-and-roll — the Black Keys and the White Stripes came up early and often as the group made headway. Edwards doesn't mind the easy comparisons — "If this were our first project we might have been like 'We sound like us!', but pragmatically, Black Keys are a popular band and a great thing to be associated with."

Those early touts gave them a reputation in England, where they found a mainstream audience eager for primal, hair-slinging rock played with instrumental verve. But they're still figuring out where exactly they fit into the contemporary American music landscape.

"Sistrionix" is due out on the Interscope imprint Cherrytree, where the band has some spiritual if not sonic peers in pop acts such as Lady Gaga and Robyn — each of whom endorses hitting the dance floor and bedroom as acts of feminist defiance.

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But their recent tours include some opening slots on Queens of the Stone Age's run of amphitheater shows (a nod from Josh Homme's crew is about the best validation a young heavy-rock band can get today) and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" cruise in October.

"That cruise has been on our calendar longer than anything," Edwards said. "When we got the offer we were like 'Yes, without a doubt,' we love playing to all ages and genres and this is going to be a whole other world for us."

That Deap Vally makes sense on a Southern rock revival cruise, major theater opening gigs and a boutique progressive pop major label is telling. It's easy to imagine Black Keys-loving college bros, young Kesha fans and serious classic-rock record-nerds all finding unlikely companionship at one of their shows.

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But the particular poison they bring live and on "Sistrionix" is relatively rare across today's pop and rock landscape. Their presence is sexy, assertive and ready to pound shots and hop on back of a motorcycle — catch the video for their live-fast-die-young single "Bad for My Body" as proof.

Yet it's all in service of some unflinching views that flirt with the political — "Creeplife" is a successful takedown of lechers in the entertainment industry orbit (and manages to turn "HPV" into a shout-along hook); "Gonna Make My Own Money" revives the sentiment of Destiny's Child's "Bills Bills Bills" for today's hard-drinking girls with guitars.

"Creeplife," in particular, is "a cautionary tale to look out for these older, predatory creepy guys in L.A.," Edwards said. And if anyone deserves a walk of shame after a drunken night out, it's those dudes.

"It's not all downers on the record," she said. "But we have so many stories to tell about how women are sick of being preyed upon."


Deap Vally

Where: The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd West Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: $14



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