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Review: Valley Queen Hit Scrappy, Dreamy Southern California Gold on ‘Supergiant’

Singer Natalie Carol evokes great cosmic belters from Grace Slick to Dolores O’Riordan on this L.A. band’s great debut LP.

Valley Queen supergiant

Pooneh Ghana

On their debut LP, this fantastic L.A. band envelops singer Natalie Carol’s bracingly afflicted, mountain-vaulting dream-country yodel in scrappy, sprawling guitar poetry. Carol can evoke anyone from Grace Slick to to Neko Case to Florence Welch to Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries, giving the band’s California roots sound a kind of storm clouds-over-Laurel Canyon feel. “Chasing the Muse” is the weepy, earthen banger, with echoes of Nineties Radiohead in the stalactite guitars and Carol powering through a breakup with raw-boned gusto; “Supergiant” is fuzzed-up power-pop, with Carol’s voice drenched in heavenly echo as she sings about seeing the face of God in the night sky. She adds to the canon of ‘what the hell have I been doing out here all this time in glitzy fake Hollywood’ songs on “Bedroom,” rocking out in the Gilded Palace of Sin. The slower moments get close to Cowboy Junkies territory (especially the “Sweet Jane”-tinged “Gems and Rubies”), but even then the haunting power of Carol’s voice – at once muscular and fragile, anxious and boundless – keeps the drama high.

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