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Best Coast

L.A.'s Best Coast is an “overnight sensation” that didn’t happen overnight.

By Brian Staker
Posted // October 27,2010 - Some forms of music seem perennial, like classic ’60s-style pop; it’s perhaps no accident that the Beach Boys titled an album Endless Summer. But only five short years ago, indie-pop sensation Best Coast didn’t even exist. Former child actor Bethany Cosentino was living in New York, going to school and feeling homesick when she started listening to the music that reminded her of growing up in Southern California: the Beach Boys, Beatles and others of the era. She dropped out of college, grabbed her friend, multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, and Best Coast was born.

Best Coast is a typical “overnight sensation” that didn’t happen overnight; the 23-year-old Cosentino has been writing songs since the age of 15. Eight years later, the duo’s album debuted at No. 36 on the Billboard album charts. Crazy For You is a set of reverb-drenched tunes that take you back on a musical time warp to the era of groups like the Ronettes and Herman’s Hermits, when vocal harmonies were the star. No wonder Best Coast has found an audience across generations.

But the persona behind Cosentino’s vocals is a little off-kilter. In “Crazy For You” she sings: “I want to hit you, but then I kiss you/ Want to kill you, but then I’d miss you/ You drive me crazy, but I love you/ You make me lazy, but I love you.” It’s not intended as anything darker than just “the human emotion of wanting something you can’t have,” she maintains, but the words do suggest something that might be at least a little dysfunctional. The obsessiveness adds extra charm to the lyrics.

Best Coast’s live sound is a little different. Since they can’t simply re-create all of her vocal overdubs and instrumentation, they go for a louder, more distorted guitar sound that’s pleasurable to the more rock & roll-inclined aficionado.

If their album hits pretty much one note throughout, it’s a contagiously hummable one. It’s the kind of thing that, unlike bubblegum, doesn’t lose its flavor, but rather makes you want to repeat it in the jukebox of your head because of its guileless enthusiasm. It’s like Cosentino is trying to re-create falling in love for the first time; not just with a person, but with music itself.

Best Coast is technically part of the indie scene, so they dress casual, rather than playing up to their ’60s-pop roots via fashion. They don’t put on some retro vintage wardrobe just for show.

“We don’t look like we belong in a band together,” Constantino jokes. “Bobb might wear some heavy metal shirt as he plays a guitar solo in a song about some girl in love.”

BEST COAST
w/ Sonny & The Sunsets
The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 9 p.m.
$10 advance/$12 day of show

 
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