I first heard Bleached when I was staying in Highland Park down on Ave. 52, sweating it out with no AC during a time in my life when I was “film intern-ing.” Real L.A. shit. I was noticing the yellow-painted Spongebob wall from the party supply store on York and the liquor store on Fig that proudly announced that it had the coldest beer in town when “Think of You” came on the radio.
It was a rough, surf-punk love song that took me straight back to pre-electro, a real garage feel that was both timeless in its simplicity and bulletproof in its potential for repeat plays. Intrigued, I YouTube-d the music video. For anyone who’s lived in Highland Park or Los Angeles even, the video for “Think of You” is like the warm blanket of home, so much so that I spent a couple re-watches looking in the background to see if I somehow made it in the video without knowing it.
Later, after a bout of crush-induced research, I internet-ed that Bleached is a trifecta of L.A. women: sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin and their bassist Micayla Grace, a trio that just released their second full studio album, Welcome the Worms, to huge acclaim. It still brings me back to that summer: sun-soaked songs that never ease off the throttle, garage beginnings, a wholly punk approach to the studio that includes every flubbed note and every off vocal. But the band has grown along with their listeners, and their new album is covered with these notes of maturity: the sunny, youthful optimism is gone, and the topics of heartbreak and alcohol abuse all ring with a genuine jade that feels faux on most young bands.
I brought the three girls in my stereo up north with me to the gray, rainy punk-mecca of Seattle, and found to no surprise that they’re huge up here. In a city where grunge music is around every corner, Bleached bring some much-needed sonic California Vitamin-D to an otherwise pasty climate. When I hear them now, there’s still the same poignant nostalgia I felt the first time I heard them – memories of basement thrash parties that I never actually attended, steamy L.A. summer nights under the light-pollution pink sky – but their sound and their energy have aged alongside me, and we see that what were once a couple of young rock chicks bangin’ out in some dingy suburban garage have turned into full fledged rock goddesses in badass combat boots and pink hair shooting laser beams of pure “fuck you” energy out of their eyes.
Bleached is on a huge international tour right now, but will be touring extensively through Southern California, along with Santa Ana, San Diego, and San Francisco dates, they’ll be playing the Telegram Ballroom on May 5th, so make sure to show out for the ladies.