Something strange has been washing up on the shores of the continental United States these days. Along with bands from Southern California proudly displaying their hometown pride by sounding surprisingly "Californian", acts from all over have been pulling more from "Pet Sounds" than "Damaged". We can thank Panda Bear for making Brian Wilson cool again to kids who barely knew he existed (outside of his later, less credible career) and Wavves, who, well, is the biggest thing under the sun right now, right (with definite emphasis on sun).
First up is Los Angeles' BEST COAST, featuring Bethany from the now defunct Pocahaunted. Whereas Pocahaunted danced around any sort of structure, Best Coast trades in the drone and moan for a simple approach to light weight, laid back beach punk. Sort of half Wavves half K Records, Best Coast falls short of impressing me except on the "Sun Was High (So Was I)", which feels like it could be the opening song on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High 2 soundtrack. She almost sounds too like Wavves, with her reverb drenched vocal patterns not really carving out any original ground from song to song. Bob Bruno saves the project from drowning completely by weaving in and out of Bethany's simple 3 chord strumming with rather intricate and pretty bass lines, but at the end of the day I almost feel like this is a good indication that anyone can sound like they can sing when doused in echo and reverb (myself included).
DUCTAILS injects Grateful Dead noodling and experimentation into his take on the newly forming unnamed genre. "Friends" almost sounds like a Woods tour tape after it soaked in flat soda for a few days. "Welcome Home" makes me think Mr. Ducktails is a pretty solid musician even though he might hide it in other songs. His progressions float along, guitar and synth lines weaving in and out creating a nice atmospheric sun burnt dirge that's as depressing as it is uplifting. Almost a "life sucks but I'm still living" attitude conveyed musically, but it's not my place to say what message he's trying to get across.
Best Coast's partners in crime (from what I've gathered), PEARL HARBOUR, have a nice little ditty with "Lost At Sea", but it's almost too Beach Boys to really leave an impact on me. It's dissappointing when the part of the song that really nails in a memorable vibe is the element most easily compared to another band, such is the case with the vocal melody on this particular song. "Sunburn" has some of the same Grateful Dead-esque noodling that Ducktails seems to have mastered.
San Diego's JEANS WILDER completes this piece and is definitely the worst of the lot. More concept than consistent, songs like "Tough Guys" remind me of drunken party jams on dusty Casios... stuff no one remembers the next day for good reason. "Simpler Times" sounds like a Wavves outtake that soaked in the same beverage alongside that Ducktails jam, while "International Waters" is my favorite of the lot... like a weird Pedro the Lion track replayed through a reverb tank inside a concrete sound bunker, but it's not enough to save this ship from sinking somewhere off the coast of California, which according to his location on myspace, is close to home.
The noise siren reinventing herself as beach punk songstress. The mysterious man named after my favorite children's cartoon. The two Children of the Damned who escaped to make bedroom pop hits. And the lonely kid who pretends to enjoy the lack of company. Not quite impressed with the burdgeoning genre as a whole, but there is some promise running through each act's sound and I will definitely be paying attention to what comes next for each.