Combine the sophisticated chill of a New York City winter with the girlish, laid back romance of California in the summertime and what to you get? The answer is Best Coast, the latest musical endeavor by perennially cool, self-described “weird girl” Bethany Cosentino. Best Coast was born when Cosentino decided to come home to LA after a time in New York City, to get a fresh start at living in the place she knows best—California. Quickly garnering praise from critics and listeners with the single “Sun Was High (So Was I),” Cosentino was approached by UK-based label Blackest Rainbow, who released her now sold-out tape Where the Boys Are. Also in the works are two new 7-inch’s, one being released by San Diego-based Art Fag Recordings and the other, the debut release from brand-new Brooklyn label Group Tightener.
A Los Angeles native, Cosentino grew tired of what she had grown up with and did what so many have done before—she picked up and left for the East Coast, specifically Brooklyn, with the intention of going to art school for Creative Writing. “I was like, I hate the beach, I hate flip flops. I want to go to New York.” But Brooklyn quickly turned out to be far different from what she had envisioned. “I realized that I actually liked all those things, they reminded me of home,” and life in New York was too cold, both literally and figuratively, with too many people trying way too hard, “it’s like, there are people in New York who look like they’re at the beach sometimes but it’s not real, it’s not the same.”
Looking for a way to get a taste of her native land all the way in Brooklyn, Cosentino was drawn to the ‘50’s and ‘60’s aesthetic of The Beach Boys and The Everly Brothers, which, she says, “made me happy.” Creating her own little Southern California in her bedroom wasn’t enough, however, and one weekend Cosentino decided enough was enough. “One weekend I just decided to leave New York. Two days later I was back in LA,” Cosentino says matter-of-factly. She started making music almost immediately, having been “inspired by the music I was listening to in New York,” Cosentino “wanted to be making the music I wanted to listen to.” Because of this, the project’s aesthetic is intended and natural, a combination of Cosentino’s influences and her inherent Californian-ness.
Although Best Coast began in her bedroom, with Cosentino recording demo’s all on her own, she soon realized that she could use a little bit of help getting the vibe exactly right. For this she enlisted Bobb Bruno, a staple of the LA music scene who has previously recoded bands like Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda, played with the likes of Nels Cline, and opened for PJ Harvey and Wilco. Cosentino and Bruno have been friends since Cosentino was a teenager, and she knew right away that he was someone she could trust with her project; “Bobb’s from California, he grew up here, he understands,” Cosentino says, adding that “he really, totally just gets it.”
Best Coast sounds the way music sounds when it comes over the beach from the parking lot, where the cutest boy in school is getting out of his car. The perfect combination of that naïve and nervous excitement of a youthful crush and the fuzzy, think reverb of having been around the block at least once before, Best Coast evokes a nostalgia for the California of Gidget and dates at the soda fountain without forgetting that it is that same California that would later spawn Charles Manson. Cosentino is constantly playing with these dichotomies, as well as toying with the line between childhood and adulthood, “in New York there was this intense pressure to be a grown-up,” she says, “but here, it’s more laid back, and everyone’s a little bit afraid of growing up.” But by embracing the innocence of summer, of crushes and of the sometimes silly sadness of first heartbreaks with sophisticated songwriting and an impeccably well-crafted sound, Cosentino has captured what makes California great—that you can go to work and have a job and be a grown-up while still knowing that you can hop in the car with your friends and drive to the beach, anytime you want.