Tag Archives: Shoegaze

Loco Ono’s Hella Bummer “Sunny Day” is Awesome

I spend way too much of my free time trolling the Internet searching for bands and songs that will be My Next Favorite Band. Most of the time, I come up empty handed. Sometimes I find a song or two that’s decent, though nothing really special. And then, once in a blue moon, I find something magical. At this point, I almost dread finding that magical song because it feeds fuel into my music-finding furnace. This past week I pinched my nose, took a deep breath, and went on a deep dive into the dark alleys of the Internet.

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And it happened, I hit paydirt. “Sunny Day” by Loco Ono is everything I love wrapped up into one incredible three-minute forty-eight-second song. The track is part-grunge, part-shoegaze, and all awesome.The pounding, almost tribal drums that open the song instantly grabbed my attention. The song is sung by a very gentle, cute-sounding girl…but she’s singing about dying and rotting “one sunny day.” I’m a big sucker for this sort of juxtaposition, no matter how many times rock chicks pull it–it always works on me. Then the guitars kick in and I instantly started swooning. The song has a pretty trippy animated video that apparently cost the band next-to-nothing to make, which makes me love them even more.

I have spent the past few days trying to find out everything I can about Loco Ono, and boy the info is in short supply. Near as I can currently tell, they hail from the UK and this is their only song that’s commercially available. The track, as previously mentioned, has a video on YouTube and appears on a compilation album on Bandcamp called LONDON VS. BOGATA. I spent 2 pounds and downloaded the song on Bandcamp just so I could listen to it over and over on my way to work. The band has a few more tracks posted on their Soundcloud page which I’m looking forward to digging into just as soon as I finish this post.

Check out “Sunny Day” and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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CALIFORNIA NIGHTS by Best Coast

Five years have passed since Best Coast’s debut album, CRAZY FOR YOU, came out and lead singer-songwriter Bethany Cosentino is still bummed out. While nowhere close to approaching a Morrissey-level of depression, Best Coast’s songs are all pretty much about doomed love, unrequited love, broken relationships, and self-doubt. So why the hell do I love Best Coast so much? While the songs are sad, they’re catchy and sung in such a way that they come across as genuine without being embarrassingly earnest. Cosentino exudes so much hutzpah that even though she sounds sad, you feel like she’ll get over it and become a stronger person.

Now, don’t for a moment think that Best Coast is break-up music, because that’s not it at all. The songs are usually wistful with a don’t look back in anger kind of mindset. Best Coast is tragic love music that sometimes drifts into upbeat moments in the sun. Though Best Coast wears their California love on their sleeves, this music is the audio equivalent of Seattle or Portland. Dark, gloomy, but also filled with a strange Pacific optimism.

I really dig this album cover, but where's Snacks the Cat?

I really dig this album cover, but where’s Snacks the Cat?

The band’s first album was a blend of early 1960’s girl groups and lo-fi shoegaze. Two years later, Best Coast released THE ONLY PLACE, the troubled second album that every band must struggle through. And while I wouldn’t call THE ONLY PLACE a disaster, I remember finding it a bit of a disappointment. There were a handful of standout songs like Beach Boys-esque title track and the solemn closing track “Up All Night.” But for the most part, THE ONLY PLACE was a bit of a step back for Best Coast. Indulgent and a bit too self-referential, there were songs on that second album that teetered dangerously close to parody (I’m looking at you “Why I Cry”).

When CALIFORNIA NIGHTS came out earlier this month, I was looking forward to listening to it but I was cautious about it’s quality. I really wanted CALIFORNIA NIGHTS to be great. I didn’t want CRAZY FOR YOU to be the band’s nadir, and luckily (for everyone) CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is the band’s best album. The band took a little more time recording their third album and it seems to have paid off. The songs are super-catchy like CRAZY FOR YOU but more polished/better produced like on THE ONLY PLACE.

There it is, the actual "best coast."

There it is, the actual “best coast.”

The songs are still sad, but they sound so fun. The best example of this is on the track “In My Eyes.” The track is bouncy and upbeat musically while being about the loss of a relationship. “In My Eyes” has a catchy, fun to sing along chorus…that’s absolutely devastating lyrically. I really like doubt-filled “Jealousy” with its classic girl group sha-la-la’s. I also dig the moody title track “California Nights” which continues in the group’s grand tradition of extolling the virtues of the Golden State.

The single “Heaven Sent” is the albums happy love song, something the band always tries to sneak onto each record. I’m grateful that its there. Special mention should be made for guitarist Bobb Bruno, who continues to provide interesting, lush guitar riffs for Cosentino’s beautiful grief. Though Cosentino gets the bulk of the praise for Best Coast’s music, Bruno is a key ingredient in what gives the band it’s wonderful happy/sad sound. CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is a great record and is going to be the perfect soundtrack to the summer. If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into Best Coast, CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is a good place to start. So next month, when you’re hosting your Lonely Hearts BBQ, throw on little CALIFORNIA NIGHTS. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

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Gringo Star vs. Ringo Deathstarr

Last night I went on a Magical Mystery Tour deep within the bowels of Spotify.   I do this thing I call “band hopping” where I’ll listen to something and then let Spotify recommend something.  After I’m done listening to that I let it recommend something to me based on THAT song…pretty soon I’m completely and utterly lost.  I wish I could remember what led me to down the weird rabbit-hole of bands named in honor of ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, I bet the trajectory of songs was pretty interesting, but alas…I was in offline mode and my listens were not recorded.

But I digress.  The important thing is there are two really awesome rock bands with Ringo-inspired names.  The first of these bands that I happened upon was Atlanta-based Gringo Star.  What do you think of when you read that name?  I bet you think Gringo Star is a Beatles-inspired pop-rock band, right? I know that’s what I was thinking.  Turns out Gringo Star is a really cool rock band with some British-invasion influences, but mostly is a bit like the UK’s Supergrass.  The band’s latest album COUNT YER LUCKY STARS is a pretty tight collection of rock songs with a lot of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”**

I’m counting ’em…

The album opener “Shadow” invokes both the aforementioned Supergrass as well as Oasis, Blur, with just a hint of Dr. Dog (great harmonies).  The album is full of great songs, but I really like the spanish-influenced “Esmerelda” and the dreamy album-closer “Mexican Coma.”  That last song in particular sounds like it could have been a hit in 1966 by song little-know, post-Beatles invasion-era rock band.  I can almost see the vinyl copy of “Mexican Coma” by The Mudd Turtles or some such thing. It’s a really nice summer chill-out song, with a super-cool guitar solo.  But the song the changed my lust to love was “Got It,” which sounds like an early Kinks single.  It’s got a real nice, super-catchy hook that just digs into your brain and won’t let go.  Right now “Got It” is near the top of the list of best songs I’ve heard this summer (woah! It’s only June) .

From Gringo Star I ended up listening to a band called Ringo Deathstarr.  As far as jokey names go, Ringo Deathstarr beats Gringo Star hands-down.  Besides having the proper number of “R’s” in “Starr” the band’s name is also a freaking STAR WARS pun.

Super-washed out colours.

Now Ringo Deathstarr is a COMPLETELY different animal.  For one thing, their album COLOUR TRIP is more acid/reverb drenched than Gringo Star’s super-crisp rock.  Hailing from Texas, Ringo Deathstarr sounds a bit like The Flaming Lips by way of The Cure.  The band is a girl-and-guy “shoegaze” band that I have to reluctantly admit to being a sucker for. COLOUR TRIP opens with the spaced out “Imagine Hearts” which is a joyous bit of pop.  The album’s best track is “So High,” which sounds how a whacked-out day at the beach feels.  The gentle “Other Things” closes the album with bittersweet introspection.  It’s the kind of song that’s easy to get lost inside.  Some bands exist in space and other create it, and Ringo Deathstarr definitely create their own space–COLOUR TRIP is best enjoyed alone with headphones.  

Both bands (and albums) are pretty awesome, and despite sharing similarities in their name they’re pretty far apart sonically.  For me, Gringo Star has the better songs and Ringo Deathstarr has the better vibes.  Is that a cop-out? I guess, but it’s really like comparing apples to oranges.  Check ’em both out and tell me what you think.

FOOTNOTES:

**TANGENT: I think that modern music needs more “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”  Go back and listen to music, from all genres, of the last 50 years and you’ll hear a ton of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”  But with only a few notable exceptions, COUNT YER LUCKY STARS being one of them, I can’t recall very many bands/albums today that use “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”

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