Punk Rock Roller Coaster
By Simon Weedn
When beloved L.A. punk rockers, Mika Miko, called it quits almost exactly four years ago, many in Southern California were heartbroken. The band’s shows were some of the most wild and electric around and the fact that singer, Jennifer Clavin, spent most of her time on stage with the band singing into a rotary telephone receiver made them the stuff of local myth. Luckily for us, Jennifer and her sister Jessica, who played guitar in Mika Miko, didn’t stay away for too long before forming Bleached and soaring in popularity amongst Southern California’s independent music community.
With Bleached, the girls have traded in the rough edges of their punk rock roots for a bit of a more dreamy and garage pop inspired sound. The rotary telephone has been retired and the girls seem more focused on honing genuine song craft as opposed to just frenetic explosions of energy. The tunes have cleaner, more vintage tones, and while at times some of their songs can be darker and moodier, the girls’ songs seem to be imbued with the sunshine and warmth of their Southern California home.
2013 marked a big year for Bleached as it finally released its debut full length, Ride Your Heart, the duo’s first effort since putting out a trio of tantalizing seven inches in 2011. “I just really wanted the songs to mean as much to other people as they do to me,” explains singer/guitarist Jennifer Clavin. As one might be able to tell from the lyrics, which deal with love and heartbreak, much of Ride Your Heart was written during and about a period of personal turmoil in Clavin’s life. “They had a lot to do with what I was going through at the time,” says Jennifer. “I had moved to New York and joined a band with this guy who was my boyfriend then, but my ex-boyfriend now, and I was going through all of the craziness of trying to live in New York, then breaking up with my boyfriend, then coming back to L.A. and feeling super disconnected from all of my friends.” Clavin further explains, “When I came back to L.A., I ended up staying with my parents for a month, locked myself in their guest room, and wrote so many songs. So when we ended up recording, many of the songs were written in and about that time.”
With Darker My Love’s Rob Barbato, as producer, Bleached’s Ride Your Heart perfectly captures those feelings of love won and love lost within its tracks. The band rolls through an array of tunes which all work to express the multitude of feelings, emotions and anxieties that go along with both falling into and out of love. Though there’s no doubt that heartbreak is a well worn subject in the areas of art and music, the Clavin sisters strive to ensure that their tunes offer a level of depth that’s lost in the songs of so many others. In fact, Ride Your Heart provides a glimpse at something much different from the casual break ups or hurtful dismissals sung about on so many radio-friendly pop records, it’s a piece that details the death of an incredibly meaningful relationship and the mourning of it. With Ride Your Heart there’s warmth and sweetness, anger and sorrow and, over it all, hope and growth. It’s rare that albums seem to hit their mark so perfectly, yet Bleached accomplishes this on their first outing.
The group has two final shows to round out their year and lucky for citizens of the Inland Empire, the band’s upcoming concert at The Glass House looks like it will be a particularly spectacular blow out. “I’m really excited for The Glass House show,” exclaims Jennifer. “ I just think that show is going to be so fun because it’s with together Pangea and Cherry Glazerr.” The lineup is great in that it will bring together these three distinctly different bands whom all share enough influence to complement each other amazingly.
As for 2014, Bleached has no intentions of slowing down. In addition to a few local dates to open up the New Year, the band is one of the featured groups on the now annual Weezer Cruise which will see them playing alongside other hot acts like Cat Power, Toro y Moi, Palma Violets, The Orwells and, obviously, Weezer. With so much under its belt already, and so much excitement for its future, it will be undoubtedly interesting to see where the Clavin sisters take Bleached in the coming months. At least one thing should be certain at this point, we the listeners are in for refreshingly awesome ride with them.
Bleached with together Pangea, Cherry Glazerr and Winter at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat, Dec. 14. 7pm. $12-$14.