girl gaze

vintage photo via the Best Coast myspace page

In the past we've featured a number of emerging bands whose myspaces would list any combination of "garage, lo-fi, surf, tropical, punk," or "shoegaze" as their genre trifecta, from Vivian Girls and Real Estate (east coast!) to the Intelligence and Abe Vigoda (west coast!). Within this scene and its amalgamation of genres, however, there is undoubtedly a difference to the sound when accompanied by the female voice--enter a slew of female-fronted or all-girl bands from California (Best Coast, Grass Widow, Brilliant Colors, the Light Rays, Pearl Harbor, Dum Dum Girls), New York (the V-Girls, Weed Hounds, Talk Normal), the UK (Pens, Wetdog) and even Sweden (Liechtenstein). On November 5th, Vivian Girls asked on Twitter, "Should we call our scene girl gaze or shit girls?" Though we don't recommend googling the term (nsfw), the first one seems likelier to catch on.

Of these 'girl groups' Best Coast has made a pretty big, melodic splash. Comprising one Bethany Cosentino (ex-Pocahaunted singer-strummer) and her former babysitter and guitarist Bobb Bruno, Best Coast has released some catchy 7-inches in 2009 for jams like "Sun Was High (So Was I)," "Something in the Way" and recently "When I'm with You" (on Black Iris) that ring truer to the sass and adventure in 60s Girl Group pop songs than the band's more shoe-gazy counterparts. That Bethany's drawn-out croons of longing can muster such melodic prowess is no accident--coming from a musical family, as a teen she sang back-up on the Ellen DeGeneres show and turned down a career in major-label pop.

Check out "When I'm With You" mashed up with a scene from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort below:

With a little less Beach Boys harmonics, and a little more Sleater-Kinney call-and-answer layers comes San Francisco's Grass Widow. The trio's syncopated vocals and music fit together with so much punch and precision. With awesome 12-Inches out on indie labels Make A Mess and Captured Tracks, look forward to more from these girls in the future or catch them on tour on the west coast this winter.

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