#25: Best Coast – “California Nights”

California Nights is the smartest stupid album of the year. After a few albums of lo-fi bedroom pop that never quite felt sincere to me, this is the album where Best Coast finally become what they were destined to be: a big, dumb, slick rock band, like Oasis if they loved California as much as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“Stupid” and “dumb” aren’t usually adjectives used for praise, but there is an appeal to how California Nights completely foregoes any attempt at intellectualism or depth, and instead focuses on crafting anthemic pop songs that just sound good. It’s a smart decision that plays to the band’s strengths while making you forget about their weaknesses. Freed from the self-imposed lo-fi constraints of their past music, Bethany Cosentino’s singing and melodies soar higher while Bobb Bruno’s guitar benefits from the extra polish, evoking the California-landscape-at-sunset feelings the band has always gone for.

The bigger sound and added production values likely alienated some of Best Coast’s original fans, and music critics weren’t too keen on it either. But I think California Nights is the sound of a band finally figuring out who they are and embracing it.

The 2015 Year-End Extravaganza

Twitter has roped me back into making year-end lists, so I’ve made a list of my top 25 favorite albums of the year. The problem is figuring out how to share it, since I know the world desperately needs to read it and I’d frankly be doing mankind a disservice if I didn’t publish it in some form. I don’t want that on my conscience.

I started writing the typical end of year list post with every album, and then a short blurb about it and why I liked it, but I found it very constricting. I felt compelled to keep each blurb a reasonable length so the final post wouldn’t be a total word-bomb. I also like to link to music I’m writing about, since just listening is more effective than words at describing the sound, but was worried about making people’s computers or phones explode with that many youtube embeds on one page.

So, this is my solution: starting probably tomorrow, I’m going to roll out the list gradually, with each album getting its own post. Most of them will still be short, since I surprisingly don’t have article-worthy opinions about literally every album I listen to. But it does give me the freedom to go a bit longer and deeper if I have something to say or think the album warrants it. I think this will give me more freedom with the writing and allow me to do more justice to these albums, which I think deserve better than a dashed-off two sentence blurb. It also allows me to flood people’s social media timelines, which is one of the most enjoyable things about being a writer.

Stay tuned.