Staff Pick

L.A. Machina

Welcome to the Machina [7-inch] (2020)

Alternative Tentacles


Well, first of all, L.A. Machina’s debut 7-inch is LOUD. Welcome to the Machina is mastered to be a big record and it sounds huge. There’s only three people in the band (Michelle Balderrama of Brainspoon/The Darts, Suzi Moon of Civet/Turbulent Hearts, and Rikki Styxx of Death Valley Girls/The Darts), but they use that trident to make a simple, powerful record.

Both tracks here are uptempo, high energy rockers that borrow a little bit form Iggy, a little bit from Joan Jett, and maybe even a little bit from Shonen Knife. But importantly, contrast is the keystone here. Balderrama keeps her guitar soaring and high, riding over the top like Phil Lynott. Suzi Moon counters that with a low rumbling bass that would make Ron Asheton smile, and Styxx rushes that pair along with a revved up, but clomping drums. This is a band that wants to rock. And they do.

That’s cool, and “rocking” isn’t as easy as it sounds. But, where the band kicks it to the next level is where they do MORE than just rocking. First of all, on b-side “Go!”, despite the fact that this is a high production recording, the band lets it gets loose and for a short moment, not only do they get close to flying off the rails, but they do, and they recover. That is, these tracks are catchy, but they are exciting in that the band is pushing themselves to brink and sometimes they do drop off. The freaky mini-jam on the second half has the band almost dipping into the sonic chaos of bands like Chrome or Flipper, only to pull out of it at the last minute. This trio is polished, but they get dirty with the tuneage. Too often, practiced and veteran musicians forget that it’s sometimes okay to lose control. L.A. Machina don’t forget.

Meanwhile, the band also elevates themselves with their psyche-biguous lyrics. I don’t even know what “another teenage head” means. I mean, I know it’s a Flamin’ Groovies album and a band, but as Balderrama laughs “whatchya gonna do when you see me down?” I don’t know if she’s mocking me or is in my corner. She has the ambiguous sinister tones of the Coop and even Bowie at times- so it’s a track that swims through a psychedelic haze where the words almost seem to be arbitrary, but there’s a hidden link and you just have to find it…

L.A. Machina’s debut 7-inch is an ass kicker.