Bethany Cosentino readily admits it: She grew up a total Hollywood kid, to the point where she even had a bustling career as a child actress in countless TV spots. "But that's part of growing up in L.A.," says the Best Coast frontwoman. "I had a lot of friends who did commercials or had parents who did movies."
Cosentino's most proud, she says, of the fact that she did a Little Caesars pizza spot. "I was a little kid, so I don't really remember my commercial days. But I do know that it was something I told my mom I wanted to do, and she got me involved in it. And as soon as I didn't wanna do it anymore, she took me out."
These days, Cosentino sings and plays guitar in Best Coast, the sunny surf-pop combo she formed with fellow guitarist Bobb Bruno. Despite her early Hollywood success, it actually took her a while to figure out which coast actually is best. Disenchanted with her Southern California surroundings, she fled to New York City to escape it.
"I went for a semester and a half, the winter came, and I absolutely could not deal with how freezing and depressed I was," she recalls. "So I packed up all my stuff and moved back to California in a weekend. I made plans to finish my semester at home, but by the time I got there, I'd started Best Coast, and instead I was like 'Oh wow! This is what I do now!'"
On 2009 EPs like Make You Mine and Where the Boys Are, ex-Pocahaunted singer Cosentino muffled her voice with tinny mikes. But for Best Coast's ebullient new full-lengther, Crazy for You, she again came to grips with her showbiz past. Raised around a session-musician father, she studied opera, she says, "and I can sing crazy Mariah Carey stuff if I want to. But I tried to hide it on all the EPs. So when we went in to do the record, I thought, 'I can sing, so I'm gonna sing my ass off!'"
Lyrically, the album is also firmly rooted in the West Coast. Cosentino never strays too far from slacker-friendly subjects like lounging around the house, watching old reruns, smoking some nerve-calming weed, and waiting for her boyfriend to get home. Her beloved Maine Coon cat Snacks figures prominently, and is also featured on the album cover.
"I love cats because they're not super-needy like dogs are," she explains. "They just wanna eat, lick themselves and go to sleep, and I really appreciate that in an animal. Because — minus the lick/bathe myself part — I pretty much just wanna lay around and sleep and eat and watch TV."
Her wah-ooh sugary style works nicely on tracks like "All Summer," a limeade-cool collaboration with Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij commissioned by Converse (available as a free download on its website). "I was very confused why I was being asked to be part of such a big thing," she says, humbly. "But we did a video for it and a live performance for it, and now we all get to wear Converse for a long time."