Summer on Seventh
Join hundreds of Angelenos on our campus this summer in support of equal access to arts education for the kids and teens of our city. Summer on Seventh is a special night of art installations, live music on our rooftop, food, drinks, studio tours and more!
Proceeds from the event support high quality arts instruction and programming for underserved LA youth.
California Nights is a brighter, more sparkly, more sophisticated, more psychedelic Best Coast album across the board, embodying the rich lightness and stinging darkness of a California state of mind. The love stories Bethany spins on California Nights all detail the highs and the lows of relationships, similar to the juxtaposition of a the band's native Los Angeles -- a place tinted by candy-colored palm trees and pale blue skies while existing within the loneliness and desperation of waterless place. More than that, there is a literal meaning to the record's title -- Cosentino is a well-documented insomniac whose creativity spirals out in the early hours of the morning, allowing her to write, undisturbed, the finest album Best Coast has made to date.
BETHANY COSENTINO on CALIFORNIA NIGHTS:
If you have ever lived in California, you know what nighttime here feels like. You know what the sky looks like when those epic sunsets begin, and you understand that feeling and the way things change when the sun finally sets. In LA, or maybe just personally to me, when the sun sets -- I feel like there is a large sense of calmness in the air, and I feel like everything that happened to me prior in the day, whether crappy experiences or good ones, at night, it all goes away and I sink deep into this different kind of "world."
When we decided to name the record California Nights, it just felt right because there is not only a song on the album -- one of the biggest, most different songs we've written -- with the same name, but because I do so much of my thinking and creative work at night. It also ties in with the idea that, as natives of LA, Bobb and I know a lot of spots and places within and around the city that a lot of people don't really know or care to know. There is a grittiness to Los Angeles that isn't seen via "E! Live At The Red Carpet." There is a darkness in this city that you don't see unless you know where to look. I think that to an outsider, California, or more specifically Los Angeles, seems like it's this amazing place with perfect weather and sunny skies with just the right amount of clouds and tall palm trees. And let's face it, it kind of is -- but there are also a lot of other things here -- crime, homelessness, and some of the most spirit-crushing elements of the entertainment industry that outsiders never see. That's a theme we very consciously decided to explore and play with when making this record. We related to the idea that things may LOOK or SOUND fun and upbeat, but they may not actually always BE that way -- much like our songs.
Writing this album, for me, was a way of taking myself though a step by step journey of learning so much about myself and the world around me. By the end of it, I got to a place where I was able to come to terms with just how much I can control, and how much I can't -- with the dichotomy of fun vs. dark; happy vs. sad; crazy vs. sane; anxiety vs. calm; perfect vs. screwed up. I realized that I am, more often than not, the creator of my own anxiety and my own stress, and throughout this album, I talk to myself about that and challenge myself to cut the bullshit and just be okay with being okay.
I have definitely been the cause for a lot of my own problems in life, and this is something that I am 100% able to own up to and admit. I may not have been able to admit that 5 years ago, when I started this band at age 23, but I can see it now and I can address it, so I decided to try and build a record around that idea. I understand that no one and nothing will ever be perfect, but I also realize that THAT is okay and it's just a part of life.
A lot of the writing for this record consisted of me getting to know myself again and remembering where Bethany ended and Best Coast began. I took a much needed step back and I was able to breathe deep for a moment and really focus on what I was doing. The end result of all of that, is California Nights. It's about a journey, it's about self acceptance, it's about learning to let go, it's about accepting the things you have no control over, it's about dealing with life like an adult and at the end of the day reminding yourself that there really is no reason to be sad, and you have every right to feel okay.
Shannon & the Clams
The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs.
The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset.
Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection. Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have DARED TO BE REAL. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what's most moving about the album. People are scared to be so real. Society does not encourage it. Folks remain guarded to protect themselves from being mocked, punished, and becoming outcast . The Clams have opted to forgo the potential tongue-clucking finger-waggers, and have instead had the artistic courage and audacity to splay their pain and struggles out for all to hear. We are lucky to hear them get so damn real.
For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance-man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged.
Nowadays, it’s exceedingly rare for a two-and-half minute rock song to have raw emotional power, but with Gone by the Dawn Shannon and the Clams have gifted us an entire album of them.
An American hip hop artist, DJ, and producer.
Peanut Butter Wolf
Chris Manak first started buying records in San Jose, CA in 1979 at age 9. It was mainly soul/funk 45s by artists like Cameo, the Gap Band, and Rick James. By the mid 80's, he was DJing and making his own beats for MCs and a few years later, he met 16-year-old rapper Charizma and they soon signed with Hollywood Records. In December 1993, the world lost Charizma to gun violence. Wolf took a break.
"Making beats" eventually became therapy for the next few years and in 1996, he started Stones Throw Records out of his bedroom as a vinyl-only record label that catered to DJs. His own album My Vinyl Weighs A Ton, was the most successful release of the label's early years. In 2001, Wolf moved to Los Angeles, bringing hip hop artist Madlib along with him, who became the center of the label for many years. When Madlib made Quasimoto's The Unseen, Stones Throw saw a turning point and defied more conventions with each year.
With artists as varied as Dam-Funk and Anika, Stones Throw grew a reputation for its left-field style, while Madvillain and J Dilla's Donuts, cemented their status in hip hop. As the founder of Stones Throw, Wolf has also curated albums for Adult Swim, 2K Sports, Serato, and Urban Outfitters. He has also discovered Mayer Hawthorne and Aloe Blacc, encouraging both artists who were rappers at the time to become singers.
After three decades of vinyl DJing, PBW now prefers A/V sets, playing music videos pulled from his personal collection of rare VHS, DVD, laser disc, beta, etc.
Peanut Butter Wolf the label founder still enjoys a DJ career that has taken him around the world since 1992. Whether it's a private dinner party for Bill Clinton, a string of dates with the Beastie Boys, Gwen Stefani's birthday party, or his own high school reunion, Wolf is equally at home behind the turntables.
A documentary on the life of PB Wolf and his label Stones Throw, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, is now playing at film festivals, focusing on the path of Chris and the record label he created nearly 20 years ago.