Higher yearning: Best Coast

'60s garage sound gone to pot
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  September 21, 2010


The day after a Best Coast gig in Minneapolis last week, a reviewer for the City Pages alt-weekly bemoaned the fact that the Los Angeles trio took a whole two hours — two hours! — to hit the stage after doors opened.

"Their set-up is ridiculously simple," wrote the critic. "Were they smoking a joint backstage? I kept seeing chicken fingers go back there, so who knows."

It's clear that dude was being cheeky, since Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino's proclivity for smoking marijuana is well documented and well tweeted. But this was an easy cheap shot. LOL, stoners, right? Always being late to shit, always noshing chicken fingers.

Then, sure enough, like a beacon of truth in this golden internet age, a reader in the City Pages comment section posted a Twitpic link from 15 hours earlier of Best Coast guitarist Bobb Bruno taking a drag on a joint. Whether the pic was taken before the gig — causing that oh-so-unbearable 120-minute delay — or was a post-show remedy is tough to say. Cosentino did tweet before the show, "First person to leave a joint at the merch table tonight gets something 4 free."

Welcome to the transparent personal world of Best Coast, the band we cited as California's best new act in this summer's "50 Bands 50 States" feature. It's a world of pot smoke and relentless cat affection — Cosentino's beloved Snacks has 12,000 followers on Twitter, and he modeled for the album cover of Crazy for You (Mexican Summer) — and fuzzy, lo-fi surf-pop music that's perfect for a lazy summer Sunday.

It's easy to hate on Cosentino, especially after the attention that got heaped on her relationship with Wavves frontman Nathan Williams (he of the drug-fueled on-stage cosmic meltdown at a festival in Spain last year). But then there's that music: a simple-yet-smart throwback garage sound that mixes the Shangri-Las and Phil Spector with top-down drives to the beach, daydream naps on a hammock, and all the other sun-soaked seasonally appropriate saccharine-pop references and metaphors. The loose essence of summer — and SoCal dreaming — in Crazy for You no doubt propelled it to debut at #36 on July's Billboard Top 200 album chart.

"When I started Best Coast, it was because I missed writing and making music," Cosentino explains by phone the day after that Minneapolis gig, en route to some town in Iowa. "I wanted to make a specific kind of music, reminiscent of '50s and '60s pop, a very classic surf-pop sound. . . . I wanted a band that showed my appreciation and love for California."

She formed the band with Bruno, recently rounding out the line-up with former Vivian Girls drummer Ali Koehler. "It's important to tour with people you get along with."

Of course, touring also means endless highway hours — which has given Cosentino ample opportunity to post online her adventures. "When you're in a van for seven hours a day, you get bored out of your mind. On Twitter, I can be myself, and people can get to know me and see who I really am. It's also that I'm bored."

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  Topics: Music Features , Music, California, Marijuana,  More more >
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