Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B.
Beside finding our selections filed under the same letter, they also share some great fuzzed out guitar and non-standard female vocals. Traditional rock and roll is a viciously gendered game, with women slotted into supporting roles (“who wants to play the tambourine?”) or as the vocalist-cum-sex symbol. But that has been changing over the past two decades. These three acts mark how far we have come.
Best Coast have a great noise going on with their recordings, a steady drone that sounds like freshly-squeezed early sixties beach rock combined with a dollop of late sixties fuzzed out psychedelic guitar. Bethany Cosentino’s vocals often go someplace deep and moving, reminding me of Neko Case. There are so many great possible choices to feature from this band but I think “How They Want Me to Be” is such a lovely homage to late 1950s angst rock: simple in structure, striking in execution, particularly the vocal arrangement. I got to see them open for the Go Go’s summer tour in 2016 and though it seemed like a strange match up at first, their live version of the more recent single “California Nights” was nothing short of magical. How They Want Me to Be
Beverly have a guitar crunch that won’t quit on the splendidly retro-fifties “Honey Do.” The vocals seem understated at first but blossom into some great harmonies in the chorus. While this song garnered the most attention for the group, the whole 2014 debut album Careers is a shimmery rock and roll treat. 2016 marked a shift in sound and focus on The Blue Swell, with both guitars and vocals sounding a bit lighter and more poppy, but still hooky. “Victoria” captures this new direction nicely.
Black Honey offer a more theatrical bent with vocalist Izzy Baxter channeling a host of 1960s mannered female singers on “Spinning Wheel” with its Morricone western guitar riffs and ballad-style delivery. But the new “Hello Today” has Baxter going for a more straight out rock and roll sound, combining sixties and seventies influences. The song chugs along with catchy riffs and great vocals, superbly given visual expression in the band’s first video.