Some are born controversial. Some cause controversy. And some knit their own pullovers. It can be said that the reception given to Deap Vally by the music press so far has been somewhat mixed, alternately enthusiastic (Kitty Empire), borderline sarcastic (another Guardian writer), politely informative (some other magazines) and namedropping Jack White and Robert Plant in the same sentence (Deap Vally themselves). With a US tour supporting Arctic Monkeys about to happen this fall, the story about the female guitar and drum duo that met at a knitting workshop and actually run their own wool based clothing outlet in Los Angeles looks set to retain its novelty value, that of the mildly kooky variety which could see Deap Vally taking their place in the “quirky support act” section alongside Bob Log III, the Flaming Lips before they were famous, perhaps the White Stripes themselves.
Of course some of this is hardly fair, but when a band more than hint that they’d prefer crocheting their own Fair Isle sweaters to blasting out abrasive blues rock stadium anthems for an evening, then we may wonder exactly what sort of reception they expect from those concert goers whose interest will inevitably range from the mildly curious to the worshipful, and a lot of which will depend on something which I’ve so far avoided mentioning – their music.
Listen to Sistrionix, and those earlier comparisons, while some of them are probably inevitable, are revealed as somehow less than accurate. Opener “Baby I Call Hell” will certainly set your ears ringing if you’re very near the PA at any of their tour shows, but it might leave you thinking that the last thing you ever heard owed slightly more to BRMC than to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, or the White siblings. “End Of The World” takes us into territories previously inhabited by Karen O and the other two Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and a lot of Arctic Monkey’s audience will find their attentions irrevocably drawn towards the stage by this point, and one or two of Deap Vally’s songs might have the Arctic’s glancing over their shoulders: Deap Vally didn’t just walk out of the woods yesterday, no-one gets to look and sound this good on the dance floor without plenty of ability and practise, poise even.
It’s a bit of a tightrope walk for any female rock stars though, retaining femininity while cranking up the amps and pushing the blues rock envelope right to the edge of the table, but Deap Vally sound and look like they know exactly what they’re about and what with autumn just about here I’d like to put in my own request for some rock n roll knitwear – a gray jumper with a load of little red guitars all the way round it, size XL.