Filed under: Issue 21 | Tags: Best Coast, Diplo, Elkland, Fleet Foxes, Goat Explosion, HEALTH, Horse Shoes, Joy Division, Kanye West, Local Natives, Mark Ronson, Morrissey, My Morning, No Age, PJ Harvey, Sam Sparro, The Drums, The Fader, The Ruby Suns, The Wake, Theophilus London, Toro Y Moi, Whitney Houston, Wilco
Part of 20 Watts’ Issue 21 Coverage!
PREVIEWS: CLICK on the links to check the bands’ MySpaces!
Best Coast [photo above]
Bethany Cosentino, a.k.a. Best Coast, began recording demos in her bedroom after spending time in Brooklyn, N.Y, and pining for the laid-back southern California life she once knew. Soon after leaving Brooklyn, Cosentino recruited fellow Californian Bobb Bruno, who had opened for indie veterans Wilco and PJ Harvey, to help with the project.
While Best Coast were gaining attention and praise from indie music blogs and topping the list of Hype Machine’s “Most Blogged Artists,” many were skeptical as to how long Best Coast could stick around. With hipster beach pop on the rise, most assumed Best Coast was just another indie buzz-band.
However, after releasing four 7” EPs, Cosentino’s easy-going, beach-girl vibe is here to stay. Best Coast’s lyrics and East-meets-West-Coast aesthetic triggers memories of young summer love on a hot and sunny day. Naming The Beach Boys as a prominent influence, Best Coast’s surf rock vibe via Big Muff fuzzboxes and drum backbeat has listeners longing to be anywhere near a beach yet still close to home.
— Victoria Pilar Nava
It seems like every synth-popper and his sister have a solo laptop project these days, especially after the explosion and subsequent backlash and exaltation (depending on what side you support) directed at the breezy “chillwave” genre from the ever-predatory blogosphere. It’s from within this firestorm that Toro Y Moi, aka Chaz Bundick, made a name for himself, mostly based on the strength of a few remixes and his single “Blessa.”
Refusing commitment to any particular style, Bundick releases tracks that run the gamut from lo-fi guitar pop to dreamy beat-driven ambience. His first full-length, Causers of This dropped Feb. 2 on Carpark, and is packed-full of floating synth clouds and crisp drum machine beats conjuring the creeping haze of summer nights. Give it a listen and you may find yourself craving a box of wine, your trusty Ninja Turtles beach blanket and an August moon to enjoy the other two under.
He’ll be spending his spring touring in support of Yeasayer-ish indie poppers The Ruby Suns, as well as hitting up South by Southwest Music Festival, so there are plenty of chances to catch this dude before he blows up.
— Dan Creahan
If Kanye West and Morrissey managed to reproduce and happened to have a baby in Brooklyn, Theophilus London would be their lovechild. And the resemblance extends far beyond a Smiths-inspired album title (This Charming Man) and London’s ability to put Kanye’s bespectacled-white-guy panache to shame.
Each of London’s songs borrows from unlikely genres, from Whitney Houston, to Italian disco, to rap, to Afro-blues, each track is an aromatic melting pot of varying influences. Making friends with big names like Diplo and Mark Ronson, London wants to learn everything he can from the masters to improve his music.
So far, he’s released a full-length and two mixtapes. Collaborating with Ronson and Sam Sparro, he’s also dabbled in the side project Chauffeur. But London hasn’t exploded onto the mainstream yet.
London always emcees wearing a baseball cap. He told MTV that his Syracuse University hat is his favorite. He recently visited the campus with The Fader magazine founder Jon Cohen. “In a couple years, Theophilus will be playing the Carrier Dome,” Cohen predicted at a talk with SU’s Bandier students.
“In a year,” London corrected him.
— Carly Wolkoff
Brooklynites Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham met at summer camp and immediately dove into the independent music scene together. After a couple of years spent testing the murky waters of electronica and animal-monikered bands (Elkland, Goat Explosion, Horse Shoes), the two got together and formed a simpler, guitar-driven band. They picked up Adam Kressler (formerly of Elkland) and drummer Connor Hanwick (formerly of Cape of New Hope) on the way back to New York. Thus, with a series of bangs, The Drums were formed in 2008.
Considering their musical diversity, it is easy to see why The Drums exploded like they did. Citing British post-punks The Wake and Joy Division as their inspiration, The Drums incorporate tinges of ’80s pop in each song they create. Post-punk permeates the ever-present background synths as well as Pierce’s diversified vocals, which can quickly jump from rockabilly earnestness to New Wave nonchalance. These ’80s nods, mixed with heavy flavors of guitar and percussion, form a recipe unique among the sugar-pop pastries to emerge from the Brooklyn baking oven in the past few years.
— Elizabeth Vogt
The word “tribal” might come to mind when you first see the name “Local Natives.” Although they hail from a music scene that’s been home to primally-frenzied acts like No Age and HEALTH, these Angelenos don’t sound particularly indigenous. However, they do fulfill their namesake in terms of being local to a district of simple, easy indie rock.
Local Natives neither break boundaries nor challenge norms in the territory they know so well. Their lead-ins have the slow, rhythmic patience of the earliest post-rock dabblers, and their rhythm sections and guitar riffs offer free-spirited nods towards unconventionality while still retaining a fetching, unabashed pop sensibility. Tracks like “Sun Hands” belt out vocals bound up in the harmonic aspirations of every Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket offshoot that one day dreams of making folk respectable again.
Their 2009 debut, Gorilla Manor, encompasses all of this and more. It’s not groundbreaking, but the music is highly repeatable. And Local Natives inhabit their cultural, naturally catchy, aural comfort zone with all the zeal of their Los Angeles indie contemporaries.
— Dan Powell