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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The Best Coast: A land of contradictions

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(Photo)
Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno have produced a debut album in "Crazy for You" that is simultaneously classic and brand-spankin'-new.
Imagine if you will, an album inspired heavily by 1950s girls groups and poppy 1960s surf rock. Add to this song titles like "Boyfriend," "Crazy for You" and "When I'm With You."

Sound a bit too high school?

Then add this to the mix: the darkness and ennui of 1990s grunge rock. Sound a bit more palatable? It is.

Best Coast released its full-length debut "Crazy for You" July 27 and it's the right mix of these disparate elements. The teen angst of it all is by design.

"I think I'm really nostalgic for my teenage years. I never want to grow up. I think most people my age feel that way sometimes," said Bethany Cosentino, 23, songwriter, frontwoman, guitarist. "These songs are pretty innocent. I just complain about boys. That's so high school."

Indeed, any album whose first line is "I wish he was my boyfriend," seems an unlikely darling of the indie rock media. On the other hand, when it's backed up by a lo-fi sound reminiscent of Pavement, the rock snobs tend to take notice.

While the contradictions seem to spring from the music's varied roots, it's really a hallmark of surf rock, which, more than anything else, is what the album is. What other genre could encompass the syrupy sweet melodies of Jan and Dean and early Beach Boys, along with more experimental music like Dick Dale and his Del-Tones?

It seems to go hand-in-hand with the land of its origins -- California. It's the state of Disneyland, Hollywood, the Gold Rush. By contrast, the Golden State seems to produce a boredom seldom seen elsewhere. There's sort of a world weariness at having seen it all.

No wonder one of Best Coast's first songs (not on this album) was called "The Sun Was High (And So Was I)." That's a California title if I've ever heard one.

But back to the album at hand. Cosentino is a delightful songwriter precisely because she doesn't try to do too much. These are songs about pining for someone you'll never have ("Boyfriend"), pining for someone from the past ("When the Sun Don't Shine") and pining for someone currently in your life ("Happy").

In a sense, these songs have been done in rock 'n' roll for 50 years.

And yet, they've never sounded exactly like this.

While Cosentino is on vocals and guitar for the record, everything else is performed by partner in crime Bobb Bruno. Their playing, along with the production of Lewis Pesacov, gives the album a reverb-filled darkness that betrays the lyrics. It's just a fun combination.

What the whole concoction produces is a good summer record. It would sound great on the beach, which is where it is meant to be played. But it also sounds great cruising among the cornfields right here in Indiana.

My spin: B+

Best Coast's "Crazy For You" strikes a vein of what makes American music fun. It's simple and fun, which all lovers of pop and rock love, even if they won't admit it.

However, it also has just enough of an edge to not seem tired and trite.

Cosentino's is a new voice to be heard, even if it isn't actually saying anything new.

If you like surf rock, indie rock, lo-fi or any music that can't be easily pigeonholed, this record is worth a spin or two. Even if you don't, you might download a couple of the tracks; you might just find something you like.

Best Coast, Crazy For You

Released: July 27 on Mexican Summer

Best Coast is: Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno

Producer: Lewis Pesacov

Learn more at: www.mexicansummer.com