There comes a point for many bands where they seem to shift up a gear. Their sound doesn't change, there's no magical lyrical progression, but perhaps with increased confidence everything just sounds bigger. Think back to R.E.M. when they released Document and Green, Best Coast have pulled off a similar trick on their third album California Nights. It's fundamentally the same formula, but these songs sound BIG, and the underlying sugar sweet melodies are even more addictive because of the sonic punch placed over them.
Songwriter and vocalist Bethany Cosentino has revealed the album title refers to both her insomnia and the darker underbelly of Los Angeles. While both of those themes are obvious throughout, the album works on a much simpler level, the immediacy of the songs themselves. They don't really build to a crescendo; they're pulling you enthusiastically along a roller coaster from the moment they start. It's the guitars and Cosentino's multi-tracked harmonies that are the real attraction here. You can certainly argue that the juxtaposition of darker themes with breezy guitar pop sensibilities adds depth, it certainly does. However heartfelt these sentiments are they act as peripheral window dressing to the breakneck pace of the album, to be honest that's not really a problem. Take 'Heaven Sent' as an example. The lyric acts as the musings of a spurned lover, but the spiky almost Punk urgency of the guitars descends into a feedback sprawl of noise. That conveys a sense of anger and obsession, which the lyrics don't quite manage to grasp.
It's by no means just Cosentino who gets a chance to impress here. Bobb Bruno sounds as if he's got a broader range of instruments to play with this time round too. Both the title track and 'Wasted Time' see the duo ease back from their frantic pace to allow moments of reflection. It's at those points that you notice the dreamy synth lines that underpin the tracks. The joy of all of these songs is that they are deceptively simple, however there's actually a lot going on in the background that you miss first time round. For the most part Bruno's contribution isn't overstated, but when you dig a little deeper you recognise just how many of those small touches he's buried away behind the guitars.
Continue reading: Best Coast - California Nights
Wolf Alice, Ryn Weaver and Best Coast impress with dynamic sets.
Wednesday night (March 18th 2015) was a female fronted assault with fantastic sets from both US and UK bands at SXSW's legendary Hype Hotel Presented by Feed the Beat. The evening was a perfect example of why girl power is playing such an important role on modern music.
Ryn Weaver proved to be an excellent up and coming live act
Getting the evening off to an unforgettable start was 22-year-old San Diego singer Ryn Weaver. Undoubtedly the talk of the night, Weaver poses something very different with her vivacious stage presence and distinctive pop vocal, bringing everyone to their feet with songs such as 'Promises', 'Sail On' and debut single 'OctaHate'. She even connected with her audience by sharing an anecdote about her late grandfather, who she describes as her 'muse'. Set to release her debut album 'The Fool' this summer, Weaver promises big things having already topped the US Heatseekers chart with her 2014 EP 'Promises'.
Continue reading: Hype Hotel's Best Female-Fronted Bands Prove To Be SXSW Gold
After a few teaser reunions, this seems like it might be the big one.
After an absence spanning nearly two decades, The Replacements are giving performing another go at this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago, Denver and Toronto. While the band’s last show was in 1991, they technically haven’t performed together since 2012, when the band got together in the studio to record Songs for Slim, a charity EP to raise money for guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke last year, Rolling Stone reports.
Despite the sad occasion, the reunion apparently felt so good that the band felt they should try the performing thing once again. "After two or three hours, my voice was shot, but we were rocking like murder for a while," vocalist Paul Westerberg told Rolling Stone last fall.
With the summer festivals in full swing, the could hardly have picked a better time for the reunion. The Replacements have been named as headliners for all three legs of Riot Fest. Westerberg and Stinson, sans drummer Chris Mars, will join Dinosaur Jr., Best Coast, Rocket From the Crypt and others on the bill August 24th-25th in Toronto. The Replacements head a lineup that also features Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, the Violent Femmes, Motörhead, Rancid, Blondie and Public Enemy September 13th-15th in Chicago. They'll top a bill including Blink-182, Iggy and the Stooges, Rancid, Public Enemy, Guided By Voices, Flag and the Dismemberment Plan September 21st-22nd in Denver. The full lineup and all other information is available on the official Riot Fest website.
Continue reading: Riot Fest To Play Host To The Replacements' Long Awaited Reunion
Best Coast's second studio effort, The Only Place, doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it picks up where its predecessor, Crazy For You, left off, only this time there are subtle studio flourishes alongside the liberal helping of teenage angst. Musically, Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno may use a certain amount of misdirection. On first inspection the record glistens with a glint of Californian sun but, once you've scratched the surface, there's an underbelly of heartbreak and dysfunctional relationships.
Perhaps the most obvious example is 'No One Like You' which is seemingly carefree with its sedate drums and waltz rhythm wrapped in shimmering guitars, however, Cosentino uses it as a vehicle to portray an abusive relationship ("Know that you don't mean to say things that hurt me and drive me to my knees"); but the protagonist is strangely subservient despite recognising her problems which makes the song even more heartbreaking in its delivery.
That level of sophistication isn't mined to quite the same extent elsewhere, as the album veers from nostalgic, feel-good surf pop ('The Only Place') to the more contemplatative ('Do You Love Me Like You Used To?'). But what is apparent throughout is the improved studio techniques utilised by Jon Brion to give a cleaner sound than 2010's Crazy For You; there's also the odd addition to the bands instrumental repetoire such as the backing to 'My Life'. Cosentino's voice sits front and centre throughout rather than masking her multi-part harmonies with lo-fi distortion - here they're used to much better effect. For example, the opening harmonies to 'How They Want Me To Be' sound like The Beach Boys, while the latter part of 'Last Year' has a hint of Marianne Faithful.
Continue reading: Best Coast, The Only Place Album Review
Formed around core members Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, 'Crazy For You' is the debut album from this Los Angeles outfit. Currently playing shows in Europe, including a date in London on August 4, they return to their homeland in September for a tour that spans across the month.
Continue reading: Best Coast, Crazy For You Album Review