Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catching Up With…Best Coast

I’ve probably said this before, but in the past I’ve been notorious for completely shunning new music, that is to say new artists. But around 2005 I made a conscious effort to drop some of the prejudices I had and start seeing what all was out there. I have to say that I’m still pretty choosy, but I’ve also made some wonderful discoveries in the likes of up and coming bands like The Subways, Gaslight Anthem and Tokyo Police Club.

Still, with a full time job and family, it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on with artists I’ve been following for years, much less whatever new is making a positive ripple on the musical ocean, so I often find myself lagging behind on some new groups that are doing something I would completely enjoy.

One such band is the LA-based duo Best Coast, which is mainly the vehicle of singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino, along with multi-instrumentalist pal Bobb Bruno. After a couple of promising singles, the band released their full-length debut, Crazy for You, in July 2010, and the world was an infinitely better place for it.

The first song I heard from Best Coast was the opening number and lead single from the album, Boyfriend, a ridiculously catchy and equally melancholy tune about longing for a friend to be that much more. Lovelorn like only teenage romance can be, this song aches with a bitterness that’s so sweet, so sincere, it absolutely requires repeat listens. Why I didn’t drop everything I was doing and run out to buy this album is beyond me, but a full 18 months went by before I got around to picking it up, and I guess it’s true, kids - some things are worth waiting for.

Crazy for you has been on heavy and sometimes constant rotation for several months now. The rest of the album follows suit with Boyfriend, lyrically dealing with the joy and pain of relationships, crushes, break ups and just hanging around being a twenty-something in today’s world. No, this is not earth shattering subject matter, and it’s not even approached in an overly creative or poetic manner; but Cosentino’s straight-from-the-diary lyrics are so honest, so dripping with heartbreak and hopelessness, that they’re believable and worthwhile because they deal with emotional desperation in the common, every-heart language that we’ve all expressed, without the unnecessary tropes and pretentions of heavy metaphors and subtext. She sings how she feels, and so we feel it too.

She sings a lot about weed too. 

Musically, we are treated to an odd on paper but excellent to the ears blend of retro-slacker-garage-bubble gum pop rock, dripping with reverb and jangly guitars, insistent drumming and melodic hooks that literally raise the hair on the back of your neck. For me this music is so super nostalgic in a 90s indie sort of way, that it almost makes me cry when I’m just the right amount of tired and the sun is all but lost over the horizon. There are no flashy tricks, nothing we all couldn’t pull off with a few months of practice, and this is completely unnecessary, because these songs could just as easily carry themselves on a half-tuned acoustic guitar, and sung into a tape recorder (provided Cosentino is doing the singing). And yet I have to give a super shout out to her boy Bobb B, because he believes in these songs just as much as she does, and as any good accompanist should, knows when to hold back, raise the subtlety and just let it all cut loose. And it’s this sensitivity to the song that takes something already great and propels it to the next level of darn near classic (though of course we’ll have to wait a few years before we see how that plays out).

The exciting part about coming in late to this gem is that I don’t have to wait long for a follow up, as Best Coast’s sophomore effort, The Only Place, will be dropping in the coming weeks/months on Mexican Summer.

Needless to say, I won’t be lagging behind this go around.

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