The Dirtbombs Go Bubblegum

dirtbombsThe Detroit explosion brought on by Jack White and Eminem seemed to have overlooked The Dirtbombs, or maybe the band preferred it that way.  Regardless, they’re back in the fold with a new LP that pays homage to a more polished version of rock n’ roll.  They’ve titled the new album Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey, and it’ll see a release by In the Red Records on September 17th.  This track below seems so simple you might overlook it at first, but I suggest you play it three or four times on repeat; you won’t be able to stop playing it after that point.

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Best Coast – The Only Place

Rating: ★★★★☆

Chances are, if you know anything about Best Coast, it’s that front woman Bethany Cosentino really likes cats.  Or perhaps you’ve delved into the tuneage of said cat-obsessed female and found that she also creates some pretty sunny California pop jams. Best Coast have shown they can crank out some quick paced and fun jangly pop, but can they be more than that?

Substance has never really been Best Coast’s style; their first album, Crazy For You barely passes the thirty-minute mark, with each of the thirteen songs not averaging much more than two minutes apiece. If length of songs is any indication of the changes that this band has undergone, than it’s clear that they’ve grown up a bit. The Only Place has a range of songs, but the majority reach three minutes. Even at this first glance, you can see that the second time around this group is straying from dropping into the pattern of becoming the same old same old. The first song and title track, “The Only Place” sets things off on the right foot. From the moment you press play, it’s like opening a bag of sunshine and ocean spray into your speakers. It’s classic Best Coast: we’re still having fun, we’re still hitting the beach and those guitar riffs are still surfy.

The biggest difference between this sophomore release and Crazy For You is maturity. Yes, the songs aren’t chock full with lyrics of eloquent diction and complex syntax, but Cosentino has definitely stepped it up. She has moved past the overt simplicity of songs like “Happy,” in which repetition was the song’s key lyric. On The Only Place, even on one of the shorter numbers, “My Life,” there’s still an immense amount more of actual lyrics that make sense to generate some kind of story instead of just the moody emotions of a California Girl.

Another sign of this maturity is a big push for stronger, slower songs on this album. One of my favorite numbers, “How They Want Me,” combines Cosentino rocking the ballad, with the continuation of the groovy guitar of the rest of the tracks, some interestingly detailed percussion topped with some “oohs” and “ahhs,” that layer to give this song that extra punch. It’s tracks like these and others like “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To,” which lead me to believe in the longevity of this album. Whereas Crazy for You got a little tired a little fast, this albums packs a greater punch than just a few listens.

It’s a perfect album for the upcoming heat and freedom of summertime. So roll down your windows and savor those last few weeks of a breeze with Best Coast.

Best Coast – Crazy for You

Rating: ★★★★☆

You had to be hiding under a rock if you haven’t heard the huge buzz surrounding the California duo Best Coast.  Now Crazy for You is seeing the light of day, and for the most part,the record does its part to make sure that band keeps riding the California waves with you and your friends throughout the rest of this summer, and hopefully into the new year.

This record is full of cymbals and snare drums, jangling surf guitar and dream-girl pop references like in “Our Deal,” but you knew that already, right?  Well, simply put, this could sum up the entire album, which isn’t a knock, but rather a blanket statement that describes what you’re in for here.  What you don’t know is that the execution is precisely what makes this a winner, as no one has been able to completely capture this sound the way that Best Coast have done it.  Songs don’t go on too long, and while they live in the same sonic spectrum, they aren’t around enough to wear you down with monotony.

“Boyfriend” begins the staple subject matter of dating, love and what not, offering up various different dream states that singer Beth Cosentino really wants you to listen to while you’re making out with your lover on the beach, preferably in California, as she’s clearly a supporter of the state’s tourism industry (see the cat’s rear on the artwork).  It’s when you come to title track “Crazy for You” that you realize this album is going to win you over no matter happens.  The bubbling bounce kicks in immediately, while Beth’s vocals fit perfectly with the tone of the guitar work.  Crashing cymbals will remind you of crashing waves, or in the case of the song, crashing dishes of a lover who’s hard to love.  Nonetheless, you’ll adore this song, forever.

Given that these songs reflect the group’s locale, it’s refreshing when you come to a song like “Goodbye,” which maintains a touch of sand, while pushing the genre more towards 90s alterna-girl rock, a la Juliana Hatfield. It’s this sort of mixture amidst the sunshine that keeps listeners returning for more time and time again.  A similar effect is used on “Honey,” a song full of dark textures, and a vocal that really floats across the song with emotion.  Cosentino’s vocals go between dark and light, creating a strong dichotomy within the song, though at times she has sort of that drawn out drawl of Courtney Love.  It’s this edgy quality in her voice that makes Beth so endearing; you can’t dismiss her as a girl coated in reverb or any of that.  Pristine and edgy, that’s the way you should enjoy your female leads.

Those who enjoy the art of the mixtape, or .ziptape as it might be known now will definitely want to include the gem “When the Sun Don’t Shine” on their next collection for an admired one.  It has a really simple drum beat, but vocals and lyrics are really what make the song stand out above anything else.  Give it a listen, and surely you’ll agree. “When I’m with You” is probably another one of those songs, if you’re in need of a slow burner near that carries the sentiment, but it’s a bonus track, so be sure to get on it.  Place it at the end, and its the perfect end piece to this record, serving as a reminder that you’ll adore everything on Crazy for You, and you do.  It’s hard to find a good records that always live up to the hype, but Best Coast will surely see more high marks for this one.


Download: Best Coast – Our Deal [MP3]