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Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino Talks 'The Only Place,' Dad Rock

Posted by Billy Gil, May 8, 2012 10:26am | Post a Comment
best coastBest Coast's The Only Place comes out next week (pre-order from Amoeba here). Without spoiling it too much, I can say Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and producer Jon Brion have produced the album you hope for, with Cosentino's voice maturing markedly over gorgeous cleaned up sonics, while the lyrics retain the directness and charm that made Crazy For You so appealing. I spoke to Cosentino a bit about what went into making the album, and asked her to produce a list from her beloved "Dad Rock" genre, which she graciously did. (See Best Coast with Abe Vigoda at the Wiltern May 18!)

PST: How has the way the vocals are presented on record changed? Does the way that has changed have to do with confidence, or was it always an aesthetic choice?
 
Cosentino: The vocals are just more present and up front — which has a lot to do with confidence and me just learning how to use my voice in other ways. Singing on stage every night for the last three years has given me the confidence to sing differently, and I wanted that growth to be showcased n this album. I’m a singer — that’s what I’ve always been, and I want people to hear that.
 
PST: “The Only Place” (download free from Amoeba) to me sounds like what I want to hear when I cross the state line into California. It has a similar vibe to a number of California songs but I think feels more L.A. specific because of its punkier feel, kind of like a fantasy of California mixed with the real thing. What was the goal with that song?
 
Cosentino: I wanted to write an homage to this place that makes me so happy and relaxed and I wanted to make other people feel the love I have for California. In a way too, I wanted To write a song that would make people be like “whoa wait — California seems awesome.” I’m trying to get the state tourism board to accept it as the new CA anthem!
 
PST: “Dreaming My Life Away” sounded really cool and different in its earlier version, sort of more overtly melancholy and somber than some other Best Coast songs. How does the new recording change things?
 
Cosentino: It has a pretty creepy feel to it, almost like David Lynch or something. The original recording had the same sort of feel, I just think the new recording includes a few new elements and sounds better than the first because it’s sonically better and my singing is stronger.
 
PST: What influences did you tap into on this record that you think are new influences or you didn’t tap into as much before?
 
Cosentino: I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac while making this record, and though they were a band that I loved while recording Crazy For You, I don’t think the influence was very obvious. It might be a bit more on this record. I also just got really inspired by female vocalists, and I used those influences to sing to he best of my abilities.
 
PST: You stayed as a three-person live band sans bass for a long time but recently switched to a four-piece and worked with orchestral pop maestro Jon Brion. Was that important to keep Best Coast as its original form for as long as you could? How do you think you’ll continue to expand upon what Best Coast means, either live or on record?
 
Cosentino: We stayed as a three piece because we didn’t have time to add another live member — we literally toured for two years straight, and we knew we wanted a bass player, we just were like — when the fuck are we going to find the time to do this? When we went in to record the new record, we wanted to change it up, and we had the time to put together a new line up and we wanted to have a stronger live show, so we worked on that a lot. The band all always be Bobb and myself — we will never add another permanent members. That’s something we agreed upon from the start.
 
PST: Speaking of Jon Brion, he certainly makes the list of producers (like Steve Albini, Alan Moulder, Dave Fridman etc.) who really make their presence felt on a record. How did you balance what he brought to the record with your own style?
 
Cosentino: Jon didn’t want his fingerprint on this record — he didn’t want it to sound like a Jon Brion record — he just wanted to make a Best Coast record with a more sonically enhanced sound, and I think that’s exactly what he did.
 
PST: Would you consider making us either a list of songs or top 10 albums of your favorite Dad Rock?
 
"Dust in the Wind" - Kansas (from the album Point of Know Return)

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Races Release EP, Play the Echo

Posted by Billy Gil, November 14, 2011 04:17pm | Post a Comment
Races

Races: Lucas Ventura, Devo Higgins, Wade Ryff, Breanna Wood, Oliver Hild and Garth Herberg. Photo by Bryan Sheffield.

L.A.'s Races will release their Big Broom EP tomorrow on Frenchkiss Records. To commemorate that release, they'll play the Echo tonight at 10 p.m. with dark dancers The Chain Gang of 1974 (as part of their November residency there) and Polaris at Noon — the show starts at 8:30 and it's free.

Atmospheric rockers Races played their first show just two years ago in October of 2009, haphazardly assembled from friends playing in other bands, and already have drawn a following with their big sound, built from the ground up by six members playing smoothed out classic rock licks with a gentle percussive roll and Asiatic synthesizers, something like an indie-minded update of Fleetwood Mac's hevenly pop.

Frontman Wade Ryff, whose warm vocals wrap his songs like a wool sweater, said he'd been frustrated with trying to fit his songs into other bands and spoke with his friend, guitarist Garth Herberg, about forming a one-off band. The band now features Devon Lee on vocals/percussion, Breanna Wood on piano/vocals, Oliver Hild on bass/moog and Lucas Ventura on drums/percussion.

“I think we all sensed that there was something really special there and we just kept playing together because it felt good.,” Ryff said.

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Show Report: Zola Jesus at the Echoplex

Posted by Billy Gil, November 1, 2011 06:06pm | Post a Comment
LA Vampires started this Halloween show at the Echoplex with a psych-dance set that perfectly set the stage for Zola Jesus. Amanda Brown’s post-Pocahaunted project, in which she collaborates with artists such as Matrix Metals and Zola Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) to fashion dubbed out psych-tronica that belies its goth veneer by injecting with positive vibes and beats from early techno. Brown’s freaky dancing and faded vocals pull you into the trance created by her collaborators’ loops and synths. Her bleached-blonde mop perfectly matched that of Danilova, who came out during a sick cover of The Cardigans“Carnival” to dance and sing alongside Brown. In the dark venue, the two looked like tiny wraiths writhing around onstage intoxicatingly.

 



Danilova, meanwhile, dug into a gauzy set that relied heavily on her recently released Conatus. Songs like Conatus’ “Hikikomori” and “Seekir,” the poppier songs on the record, came through with as much or more power than on record, their hooks amplified to new extremes. The Echoplex tends to add a lot of natural reverb to shows, and this at times added to the already soaked songs to the point that it was a deluge, almost overpowering. I haven’t seen Zola Jesus play live before, but I’m willing to bet her shows are always this dreamy. The music just sort of pours over you, and Danilova swings her arms and dances in flowy garb. Everything feels the way Fleetwod Mac’s “Gyspy” video looks.

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Geoffrey O’Connor Brings His Noir Synth Pop to Hollywood Forever

Posted by Billy Gil, September 28, 2011 02:09pm | Post a Comment
Geoffrey O’Connor, frontman for Australian indie pop band Crayon Fields, released his debut record under his own name this week with Vanity Is Forever, a dark and sexy collection of new romantic pop reminiscent of Bryan Ferry and later-period Roxy Music. It’s gorgeous stuff, and tonight he’ll play it at Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside Swedish songsmith Jens Lekman at 8 p.m. I took a minute to chat with O’Connor about his music upbringing and influences — surprise, it’s not all ’80s all the time!

PST: Can you tell me a little bit about your musical background up until releasing Vanity Is Forever?

O’Connor: I’ve been writing and recording songs since high school, which is when I started playing with Crayon Fields — we are now working on album number three. I released a solo record in 2007 as Sly Hats, but then decided to drop the name for the one my mother gave me.

PST: What are some of the influences, musical or otherwise, that got you making the music that appears on this album?

O’Connor: Classics like Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed and Dory Previn are the first musical influences that come to mind. I work in a cinema and get to see a lot of free movies — often there will be a memorable scene or quote that will trigger a song idea, even in the ones I don’t like.

PST: I definitely hear a cinematic quality to your music. Have you or would you consider scoring a film?

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Why We Love Those Sad Songs So Much: Because It Feels So Good To Hurt So Bad!

Posted by Billyjam, July 21, 2011 01:20pm | Post a Comment
 

The Smiths "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Today"

Why do we love those sad songs so much? What is It with songs that help us wallow in our misery? Those post break up anthems, or songs about loss and depression that just seep of sadness yet draw us like a moth to a flame. Why do people love Morrissey and the Smiths' sad songs about been miserable? Because - like hot tea on a hot day that fights fire with fire - so too do sad songs quell the sadness in our collective hearts. Some say that we like sad songs of others' tales of despair because we can indulge in their suffering from a safe distance. Like in the comic strip above we love/hate those sad songs so much we have to hit replay. "Please Mr Please" don't play B 17. I don't ever want to hear that song again," sang Olivia Newton John on the weepy Bruce Welch & John Rostill penned 1975 international hit - but you know she secretly indulged in hearing B17 again despite the sadness it aroused in her tortured soul.  Of all the pop hits over the past several decades Elton John's Bernie Taupin penned hit "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" sums up our need for sad songs: "It's times like these when we all need to hear the radio.`Cause from the lips of some old singer we can share the troubles we already know. Turn them on, turn them on. Turn on those sad songs when all hope is gone!" and the song's clincher line, "it feels so good to hurt so bad"

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