ALBUM | L.A. WITCH dropped their self-titled debut album last month, gifting us a sultry brew of driving basslines, retro drumbeats and guitar tunes that switch from watery reverb jangles to fuzz-laden monsters. Sade Sanchez, the frontwoman of this garage-rock coven, succeeds in channeling black-velvety vocals more so than conjuring the occult; it's more '80s roadhouse than séance in the thickets. The third track, "Untitled," recalls the pseudo-country rock of the Gun Club, while "Drive Your Car" revs its engine with Irita Pai's post-punk, Morse-code bassline driving the tune. The final track, "Get Lost," gives Ellie English's drumming much deserved credence. These three have bewitched me.
BOOK | Jeremy Robert Johnson thrives on themes of infestations, infections and the parasitic. IN THE RIVER is a tad different than his bizarro tales of cockroach suits, or bonding with personal parasites that just want their host to take them to the movies. It's a Sunday-afternoon-read of a book; think The Old Man and the Sea, but dipped in Johnson's signature soup of strange. The novella, which plays out as a father-son fishing trip gone horribly awry, is a book of cold sweats and delirium. The Portland-based Johnson has given us a tale that explores parental terror and grief, and ultimately leaves the heart shook.
FILM | It's the horror-movie marathon time of the year, and while gory slash-fests may reign supreme simply because of quantity, it's the cerebral thrillers that usually leave an impact. GERALD'S GAME, adapted from Stephen King's 1992 novel and directed by Mike Flanagan, offers both gore and marital disturbia. It begins how you might expect Fifty Shades of Grey to end, had Mr. Grey been closer to the middle-class range of the spectrum. A couple trying to reignite their tepid sex life head off on an excursion to a cabin in the woods. A pair of handcuffs and a death later, the film unfurls into mental deterioration and suspense. ♦