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Album Picks: Beach House, Best Coast, My Bloody Valentine

Posted by Billy Gil, May 15, 2012 06:08pm | Post a Comment
Beach House BloomAnticipation has been high for the new albums from Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House and Cali-cool pop-rock duo Best Coast, and luckily neither disappoints. Beach House continues the upward trajectory set by their previous three album — the haunting, murky lo-fi of their self-titled debut, the more grandiose Devotion and its modern classic follow-up, Teen Dream —with an even fuller, more confident statement on Bloom. The album jumps from the springboard set by Teen Dream’s “Norway” into more definitively pop territory, albeit the sort of cerebral goth-pop pioneered by Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins. Like that song, “Lazuli” emits a sky-searing chorus of Victoria Legrand’s cloudy vocals that is simply glorious, the kind of thing directors dream about hearing in their film’s opening sequences, eliciting sudden and unspeakable emotion. The band combines this with verses that are more mysterious and harder to recall — it’s a perfect example of the band’s strength in fusing archness and pop structure, retaining their intrigue while delivering hooks. Every song on Bloom is a highlight, as the album moves from the cascading keys and chiming guitars of opener “Myth” to propulsive “The Hours” and “New Year,” perhaps their clearest stabs yet at radio-ready pop-rock, through closer “Irene,” which stretches its music-box arrangement to epic proportions, boosted by Alex Scally’s hauntingly spare yet melodically uplifting guitar lines. Every song on Bloom somehow sounds strange and new, yet somehow feels intimately familiar upon first listen. Listening is like unearthing someone else’s memories, each song like a glittering diamond that has just been waiting to be found.
 
Best Coast The Only PlaceMeanwhile, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino documents the process of entering adulthood and looking for lasting love the way few singer-songwriters can on The Only Place. Her sophomore full-length album is a more grown-up affair than the anxiety-pinned sunshine pop of Crazy For You, aided by springy, shimmering production from Jon Brion, but luckily Cosentino hasn’t changed too much. The longing Cosentino communicated in songs like Crazy For You’s “Boyfriend” is still present in songs like the swaying countrified ballad “No One Like You,” asking “if I sleep on the floor, will it make you love me more?” The simplicity of her lyrics belies their cleverness, as she pleads with her subject by offering to leave in order to make him stay. Throughout The Only Place, Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno reference ’50s and ’60s country starlets and girl groups, creating Phil Spector-style melodrama with crystalline guitars and lyrics yearning for individualism within codependence in songs like “How They Want Me To Be.” Throughout, Bruno and Brian keep things chugging along nicely in order to allow Cosentino’s personality to shine and not wallow too much in sentimentality, giving the haunting, Julee Cruise-style ballad “Dreaming My Life Away” some nice propulsive drum work, an improvement from an earlier, sparer recording, while “The Only Place” and “Let’s Go Home” burn with college-rock energy to spare. And Cosentino has never sounded better, her voice now brimming with confidence and pulling the heartstrings directly rather than from behind a shield of reverb and lo-fi sonics. It’s impossible not to be affected as she sings simple lines like “I wanna see you, for ever and ever” in the show-stopping “Up All Night.” She makes us feel the simplest sentiments as deeply as the first time we felt them, a hallmark of a truly great songwriter and performer. (The LP comes with a free bonus 7" while supplies last.)
 
My Bloody Valentine Loveless And I would be remiss not to mention the reissues of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Isn’t Anything and EPs 1988-1991, including songs released between those two albums, plus previously unreleased songs from that era. I’m not the biggest reissue person — often seems like a money grab with few good unheard songs and tweaks only an audiophile can hear, but this is My Bloody Valentine we’re talking about. The band’s two shoegaze classics sound better than ever, as only the most delicate nob twiddling has taken place at the hands of Kevin Shields. Anyone who doesn’t own these two albums, two of the best ever in my humble opinion, should get these import CDs right now. Even if you don’t buy CDs anymore. It’s time. Meanwhile the EP collection is a no-brainer for any fan of the band, as My Bloody Valentine’s throwaways tend to be better than most bands’ entire catalogs. Superfans may have the material Tremolo and You Made Me Realise EPs already, all excellent of course, but not songs like “Good For You” and “How Do You Do It,” terrific jangly pop songs gnarled by shuddering noise that sound nearly as good as anything on Isn’t Anything.

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

Posted by Billy Gil, May 8, 2012 10:26am | Post a Comment
Best 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)











eagles one of these nights"Lyin' Eyes" - The Eagles (from the album One of These Nights)











steely dan gaucho"Hey Nineteen" - Steely Dan (from the album Gaucho)











fleetwood mac rumours"Go Your Own Way" - Fleetwood Mac (from the album Rumours)











saturday night fever"How Deep is Your Love" - The Bee Gees (from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack)










"Sister Golden Hair" - America (from the album Hearts)











bob welch french kiss"Sentimental Lady" - Bob Welch (from the album French Kiss)











boston don't look back"A Man I'll Never Be" - Boston (from the album Don't Look Back)











bruce springsteen born in the usa"Born in the USA" - Bruce Springsteen (from the album Born in the USA)











"Right Down the Line" - Gerry Rafferty (from the album City to City)

Local Bits: Best Coast, Ty Segall & White Fence, Derde Verde

Posted by Billy Gil, April 27, 2012 12:09pm | Post a Comment
Best Coast The Only PlaceBest Coast Covers Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms”
 
From Pitchfork, dad-rock loving duo Best Coast has covered a song by their beloved Fleetwood Mac, “Storms,” from their underrated 1979 album Tusk. For now, you have to track to about 58:10 in this edition of BBC Radio 6’s Radcliffe & Maconie show
 
Here’s the cool part: You can get the cover on a 7” that comes with The Only Place at independent record stores. Preorder your copy of The Only Place here at Amoeba and you’ll get a copy of the 7” with the moody and beautiful “Storms,” which shows off Bethany Cosentino’s growing confidence as a singer of uncommon power.
 
Ty Segall & White Fence – “Time”
 
I interviewed Ty Segall a while back about his collaboration with White Fence, called Hair, a match made in garage-pop heaven that was released this week — pick it up here. Here’s a fun psychedelic video of their song “Time” recorded for Room 205.

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Best Coast’s ‘The Only Place’ Available for Pre-Order

Posted by Billy Gil, March 26, 2012 01:31pm | Post a Comment
Best Coast’s new Jon Brion-produced album The Only Place is available now for pre-order at Amoeba.com. Not only that, the California-lovin’ title track and first single is available to download. I heard it this morning on KCRW and am pretty pumped about it — everything sounds shiny and shimmery but still straightforward and not too clean, like finding a beautiful ring in the sand.


Free download of "The Only Place" by Best Coast.

The Only Place comes out May 15. Who isn’t excited about this? “Why would you live anywhere else?” After hearing the first track, I can’t wait for summer and I can’t wait for The Only Place.
 
Best Coast plays The Wiltern in LA on May 18th with Abe Vigoda. Go to it!

PPM Records Celebrates 10 Years With Weekend Show

Posted by Billy Gil, November 3, 2011 01:15pm | Post a Comment
Post Present Medium, or PPM Records, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this weekend with a kickass show at the Smell featuring Abe Vigoda, High Places and more on Friday; Dunes, Tearist and more on Saturday; and No Age, SFV Acid and Bleached, among others, Sunday. The shows start at 7 p.m. each night, and it's 8 bucks a night.

No Age's Dean Spunt started the label in 2001, first releasing a 7” by a band called The Intima. From there, the bands PPM has released records of reads like a who's-who of breakthrough artists from the area over the past decade, including the aforementioned artists, plus such local luminaries as Best Coast, Mika Miko and Wavves. He'll release No. 50 in December and has up to No. 56 planned so far.

Spunt said there's not ruling sound for the label, given its variety, but rather it's an outlet for friends' bands and uncompromising artists, and to document the L.A. underground music scene. I asked Spunt to highlight a few landmark records from the PPM library.














PPM1 THE INTIMA 7"

Spunt: My first adventure into making records, such a good band. I probably let them down, I had no idea how to sell a record. I got the hang of it though! Find it if you can!


PPM8 MIKA MIKO "C.Y.S.L.A.B.F." LP
Spunt: First full length from the now legendary and defunct MM! They were a bomb that exploded and affected everyone




PPM19 GUN OUTFIT 7"
Spunt: This is the first record by Olympia Washington's Gun Outfit. They are still one of my favorite bands. So punk.




PPM20 ABE VIGODA "REVIVER" EP
Spunt: An EP after Skeleton, and before Crush ... this was Reggie's last record for them on drums, it is perfect.




PPM26 SILK FLOWERS "S/T" LP
Spunt: Such a great record. I was so pleased to release this band comprised of great friends. It always reminded me of “Cough/Cool” era Misfits meets a demented Joy Division, with perfect aesthetics. (Pick up more Silk Flowers from Amoeba here.)



PPM30 BEST COAST "SOMETHING IN THE WAY" 7"
Spunt: A really good A-side and B-side. This was when there was a drum machine, very early on in their career. Killer. (Pick up more Best Coast from Amoeba here.)





PPM38 WHITE SHIT "CARRY ME" 7"
Spunt: Andy from Wrangler Brutes, he was in a bunch of other amazing bands too, but he teams up with Jared, who was in Karp, currently in Melvins ... so many cool dudes here .. anyway, this record kills it!



PPM40 CHALK CIRCLE "REFLECTIONS" LP

Spunt: I was honored to put this record out. Chalk Circle was an all female punk rock band from Washington DC in the early '80s. Amazing amazing amazing.




PPM44 SFV ACID "NEW WEST COAST" EP
Spunt: Zane Reynolds aka SFV ACID is an incredible song writer. His MPC is where he spends most his time. The most exciting thing happening in the SFV!




PPM46 ERIC COPELAND "WHOREHOUSE BLUES" 7"
Spunt: You heard it here first, this 7" rules. We have been releasing 7"s by Eric non stop, he has more planned, don't miss these things, Eric is breaking ground below us.

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