Poolside – “Slowdown”
(Sally Struthers voice) Do you like watching scrawny L.A. hipsters swim and sing catchy tunes that sound like hip-hop without the rapping? Sure, we all do.
Poolside’s big summer single bowed yesterday on Pitchfork, along with its trashy summer vibes video. This thing was made to soundtrack the Ace and Standard hotels, all easy beats and lush synth hooks. Scoff if you must; this sort of thing is rarely done as well as it is here. Their nicely titled Pacific Standard Time album comes out July 9.
Best Coast – "The Only Place" video and KCRW performance
Best Coast debuted a super cute video for “The Only Place,” from the album of the same name, this week where Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno run around L.A. and give viewers a tour of the “real” L.A.: tacky souvenir shops, backyard pools, bikes, our gross but awesome river. And lots of Bobb! It’s as sweetly low-key and breezy as the song.
Poolside – “Slowdown”
Bob Welch "Ebony Eyes" (1978)
Is it just me or does it seem like the frequency with which we are losing artists has been rapidly increasing over the past year? It seems like every week word of some great musician who came to fame in the '60s, '70s, or '80s has passed on. The latest to add to that sad, long list is '70's rock artist Bob Welch, known for both his solo work and membership of Fleetwood Mac, who died yesterday at age 66. Unlike many of the other artists who have passed on recently due to natural causes, the singer/songwriter/guitarist whose career never quite reached its full potential, was the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. As one of my fellow WFMU DJs noted following this tragic news, Welch qualified as a "classic tortured shoulda-been left-behind '70s artist."
Welch recorded some timeless pure pop-rock perfection, including his hits "Hot Love, Cold World,” “Precious Love,” "Sentimental Lady" (originally recorded with Fleetwood Mac but then later reworked by Bob Welch), and 1978's "Ebony Eyes" (video above), which would be the biggest hit of his career. But despite all of the successes Welch enjoyed, he never really reached the level of appreciation he deserved. He was unfortunate in that he had split Fleetwood Mac before they became hugely popular and then, on top of this, his own solo career stagnated back in the '80s. The two post-Mac groups he formed, Paris and Avenue M, never really took off and, as accurately noted in today's LA Times, his "early contributions [to Fleetwood Mac] helped pave the way for the sound the band is celebrated for today." Welch rarely gets much credit for those contributions.
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)
Races: Lucas Ventura, Devo Higgins, Wade Ryff, Breanna Wood, Oliver Hild and Garth Herberg. Photo by Bryan Sheffield.
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.
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.