Bleached: Playing on Prefix

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Playing on Prefix is a feature on KCRW’s Music Blog in which writers from the eclectic music site Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers each week.

Bleached emerged in 2011 as a tighter version of their scattered and frantic previous band, Mika Miko. They swapped punk dissonance and disorder for a closer-knit garage pop sound with vocal harmonies only achievable with the cosmic connection of siblings in a band.

Sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin write almost exclusively about love. But it’s not sappy love or platonic love — it’s referential love and the reference point is every love song radio hit from 1951-1962. Especially the darker ones. Bleached‘s sound is simple but not amateur. The sisters aren’t afraid to linger on a single guitar note or vocal pitch to make the eventual change that much more compelling. It’s still garage rock, but don’t expect blisteringly fast noodling or 1000 BPM drums.

The band hit their stride on their third and most recent 7″, “Searching Through the Past“, for Suicide Squeeze.

The title track is their most cohesive composition to date, complete with their signature vocal harmonies, desperately romantic lyrics, and even a touch of piano. The highlight of the song is the guitar solo that stays on the same note for over ten seconds before wavering into a melody. It’s bold and the solo is a good descriptor of the rest of Bleached‘s tracks: they’re not racing towards instant gratification, and the hooks are better off for it.

Searching Through The Past by Bleached by Suicide Squeeze Records

The band also isn’t rushing into a full length yet. In a music world where it’s not uncommon to give away full albums for free, Bleached have been surprisingly stingy with releases, only putting out three singles and maintaining a Tumblr account with an occasional live video and tons of photos.

Sometimes Bleached sound like an old picture you found of your Grandma at a party. At first glance the party looks like something you might have attended: there’s some beer cans on a table and maybe some sloppy dancing, but when you look closer the picture is irreparably dated. Tracks like “You Take Time” seem straight out of the 1960s pop lexicon on paper, but after a closer listen, the garage and punk influence of later decades is unmistakable.

The band is heading out on a European tour next month that includes French dates with Black Lips and an appearance at Primavera Sound in Barcelona.

– By Matt Putrino

Editor’s Note: KCRW’s Mario Cotto also tells us why this LA band is one to watch!