As Bleached, sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin deliver sparse, straightforward, buzz-saw rock chords and dense bass under harmonic cooing, mostly about sunny Los Angeles and its male inhabitants. And if you think they might wind up in a territory battle with soul sister Bethany Cosentino — who fronts the similar-sounding Best Coast — then you’re just dead wrong, mister.
“That wouldn’t even happen! Never ever!” Jennifer Clavin said, her sister laughing in the background. “If you and Bethany arm-wrestled, who would win? … She says she would.”
Despite media outlets’ attempts to drum up conflict between the two indie acts, Clavin said they’re great friends. She even assisted with percussion in Best Coast’s infancy.
Previously, the sisters Clavin played together with DIY punkers Mika Miko, a band that etched its teeth razor-sharp at L.A.’s infamous downtown noise venue, The Smell.
Then Jennifer Clavin moved to New York City for a stint with the decidedly more synth-focused and melodic Cold Cave.
“After that, I realized that I wanted to make my own music, and I wanted to do it with my sister,” she said.
That music birthed Bleached, which has recorded only a handful of tunes, released on a couple of 7-inch discs. The best is “Think of You,” a fundamental example of dreamy, melodic surf rock caught in a rough undercurrent. It’s a sound that owes to the Buzzcocks about as much as it does to modern indie’s obsession with adding vocal harmonies to everything. Call it the Sriracha sauce tendency.
“We started writing songs in the summer of 2009, when we knew Mika Miko was breaking up. But we didn’t really take it seriously until this year,” Jennifer Clavin said.
The other big difference between Bleached and any of the girls’ former groups in is the primacy of sound, both recorded and live. While Mika Miko was mostly just a vehicle for wild shows (like the Minutemen, few songs last more than two minutes), their recent work has them caring much more about how they come off to the listener. Jennifer Clavin said the current tour — which stops Thursday at Norman boutique Anty Shanty — is helping to hash that out naturally.
“I’m more concerned about sounding good recorded,” she said. “And then live, we’re still trying to figure out our sound. That does make me a little bit nervous. Recording-wise, I don’t feel stressed about it.”
The goal, she said, is to sound just as rough-hewn but catchy live as they do on disc. It’s a tricky aesthetic to capture, akin to the just-right feel of well-worn jeans: It’ll come with time.