Best Coast: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

[This is the first of another favorite feature series I helped design, which has musicians write about albums that shaped them as artists. Though most credit obviously goes to the artist’s own choices and writing, I was proud of the intro I wrote to this one.]

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Much like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” the Eagles’ iconic but often maligned “Hotel California,” is one of those songs that casual radio listeners often mistake for its seemingly sunny facade.

Below the groovy melodies and laid back harmonies lies a deeper message, which Don Henley has on different occasions called “our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles” and “a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America.”

Amongst imagery of mirrors on the ceiling, stabbing feasts with a knife and prisoners of their own device, the most telling of lines goes, ”‘Relax,’ said the night man, ’We are programmed to receive.’ You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

Fellow Californians Best Coast share similar sentiments on their home state.

Following the band’s first two records – Crazy for You and The Only Place – the dynamic duo of vocalist-guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno are back with their much-anticipated, sterling third album, California Nights. True to its title, and as with its fuzzed-out predecessors, the record is an quintessentially California album from a quintessentially California band, which has been called a boiling down of the Golden State’s last 50 years of music history.

What’s new to Best Coast ca. 2015 is the level of full-on pop refinement and, more crucially, the thematic maturity. Moving beyond subjects of boyfriends and sunshine, Cosentino admits that California is not only a land of dreams dreamed, but also double truths and dreams unfulfilled, such as when she sings, “California nights make me so happy I could die … But I try to stay alive.”

In anticipation of California Nights, we recently asked Cosentino to list five albums that changed her life and explain why they were so special. Appropriately, she loves the Eagles.

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Oasis: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

This is the first Oasis album I got heavily into. I think I was in the 7th grade when I first heard “Champagne Supernova” for the first time and it was just one of the best songs I had ever heard. I would listen to it on repeat. I’m pretty sure I taped it off of the radio, back when people did stuff like that. I just think the songwriting on this album is so classic and perfect — every song is catchy and relatable and it’s an album that has stuck with me since I first heard it.

Fleetwood Mac: Tusk

I can’t even begin to explain how many songs on this album changed my life. I mean, they kind of all did in one way or another. I am such a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac, because of the honesty in their lyrics, as well as the incredible backstory of their life as a band and how much they struggled internally.

I just feel like this album is one of those albums that you can really relate to and for that reason it means so much to me. I really love music that makes me FEEL something, and every single song on this album makes me feel so many things. I try to approach my own songwriting in the same way they did in Fleetwood Mac — just pure honesty and no holding back, ever.

The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds

This record will forever remind me of my childhood. My dad was such a huge Beach Boys fan, and this album was always being played in our home when I was growing up. I bought my dad a copy of this on CD for his birthday one year.

“God Only Knows” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and this record just has so many important songs on it — songs I really connect to. This record has stuck with me throughout my childhood and now into my late 20s. It’s a record that will always mean so much to me. Best Coast was very much inspired by the sound of The Beach Boys when I first started the band, so this record also means a lot to me because of that.

Drake: Nothing Was The Same

I think people always think it’s weird when I say one of my favorite artists ever of all time is Drake, but it’s really not that weird. I grew up listening to hip-hop and R&B, and there is something so special and unique about Drake that no other rapper, or even mainstream artist out there has — and it’s the fact that he’s 100% real, all the time.

I remember when this record came out. I was going through a rough time in a relationship and I was on tour and I just felt really lost and confused. Then I bought this record and literally listened to it nonstop on headphones and was just always thinking, like, “YES DRAKE! I FEEL THAT!”

I mean, he’s a rapper, I am a rock musician, but I relate to the things he says on so many levels. The way he talks about success and how it changes things and the people around you start treating you differently, I connect with that so much. This record in particular is one I relate to so hard. “Connect” is one of the strongest songs on the record and it seriously talks about feelings I feel on an almost daily basis.

The Eagles: The Very Best of The Eagles

I love every Eagles record, but this one is obviously where it’s at because it has every single hit/important Eagles song on it. I remember there was a point in my life where I really couldn’t stand the Eagles, but mostly it was just because I had never really listened to them. Once I got older and started listening to a lot more music from different genres, I remember listening to this record and being like “Whoa, the Eagles rule.”

“Lyin’ Eyes” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I just feel like they capture such a special element of California in their songwriting, which is very much what I try to do when I write for Best Coast — but again, they write incredibly catchy songs with relatable lyrics.



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