21st Century Music: Best Coast
21st Century Music are playlists and profiles that focus on artists that have released their music since 2000. These highlight new(er) acts that continue the sound and spirit of the older acts that are the focus of Ceremony. Click on the streaming service of your choice below to listen to the playlist as you read along.
The last ten years has seen a rise of power-pop, with guitar-driven songs married to bright, pop melodies becoming a common feature of indie and alternative music. Best Coast is one of my favourite acts of these acts, with my adoration for them being locked in from seeing them in two performances in 2016. They were less pop in their earlier music, developing into the sound as they’ve went along – they are a band that has developed the way they used to in the early days of rock and modern rock, starting raw and not entirely formed and then getting stronger and more polished over several releases to reach a better version of themselves each time.
The band is essentially a duo of guitarist and singer Bethany Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno, with supporting players that have come and gone over their tenure. Physically they are quite the contrasting pair, but no matter, they gel as artists and her higher toned, pop-styled vocals works nicely over their layered, fuzzy, power-pop guitars. They were formed when Cosentino returned to her hometown of Los Angeles after a stint in school in New York City. She had been in the LA scene as a burgeoning singer and actress, including a brief stint in a duo with Amanda Brown in an experimental act, Pocahaunted. She connected with Bruno in 2009 and they formed Best Coast, putting demos and indie singles together in a jangly, fuzz-pop style (often referred to as lo-fi), modelled after the surf bands and ‘60s sounds to which Cosentino was fond.
After a few EPs they released their first album in 2010, Crazy for You, which produced a fuller version of their early sound. Their mix of melodies and energy were present, but it was still a little rough and noisy with lighter moments loose and jangly. The second album came after a couple of years of touring and increased exposure, helped by positive reception from the debut. Cosentino was in a relationship with Nathan Williams from Wavves, and the bands toured together, dubbed the ‘Summer is Forever’ tour it resulted in a joint EP in 2011 from the two bands along with the band, No Joy. Therefore, The Only Place was ready to further the band’s success, which it did with #24 and #55 chart positions in the US and UK respectively. The album was less noisy and more pop-oriented, shifting the band towards the power-pop sound in which they would become synonymous, including bringing Bethany’s vocals out of the mix and more front and centre.
The last two releases, 2013’s Fade Away EP and 2015’s full-length California Nights brought the power-pop sound to a fantastic level of consistency and infectiousness. Fade Away in particular was solid from start to finish – it’s a great EP. California Nights got a little too into the pop grooves and a bit over-polished on some songs, but despite trotting out power-chord driven gems like “Feeling OK,” “Heaven Sent,” and “In My Eyes” (which featured a cool video of the band performing on the roof of the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles – see it on the YouTube playlist) and touring regularly (thus the two shows in one year I caught, including the second ‘Summer is Forever’ tour and an opening slot on the Go Go’s farewell tour) the band was surprisingly unable to equal the chart success of the prior albums, with it only peaking at #53 in the US.
Best Coast released an album of children’s songs this past summer called Best Kids; it’s available via Amazon only. It is literally well-known children’s songs and nursery rhymes played in the band’s guitar-heavy sound – so let a new generation of little rockers come forth! Otherwise it’s unknown when we’ll get new music from Best Coast geared to us non-toddler folk, but my fingers are crossed.
The Playlist - song\album (year)
Make You Mine \ non-album single (2009)
Something in the Way \ non-album single (2010)
Boyfriend \ Crazy for You (2010)
Crazy for You \ Crazy for You (2010)
When the Sun Don’t Shine \ Crazy for You (2010)
When I’m with You \ Crazy for You (2010)
Last Year \ The Only Place (2012)
My Life \ The Only Place (2012)
Better Girl \ The Only Place (2012)
Do You Love Me Like You Used To \ The Only Place (2012)
This Lonely Morning \ Fade Away EP (2013)
I Wanna Know \ Fade Away EP (2013)
Fear of My Identity \ Fade Away EP (2013)
Baby I’m Crying \ Fade Away EP (2013)
Feeling OK \ California Nights (2015)
Heaven Sent \ California Nights (2015)
In My Eyes \ California Nights (2015)
California Nights \ California Nights (2015)
Sleep Won’t Ever Come \ California Nights (2015)