The rise of the LA stoner scene

— Steven Lawrence contributed with this article.

Bob Dylan once proclaimed in that “Everybody must get stoned”, this has never rung truer with the now developing Los Angeles lo-fi, stoner, slacker rock scene.

Clearly there is a synchronicity between drugs and music, perhaps the recent change in marijuana laws in California has had some affect the new scene arising. During the 1970s, 15 US states decriminalised marijuana under the American federal system.

California has become one of six states permitted to having commercial dispensaries for ‘medicinal’ purposes of marijuana.

This has seen many ‘clinics’ constructed all over the place, that offer more readily available and cheap marijuana, than any other state in America; meaning the weed business has grown exponentially over the past decade.

This line of influence from marijuana may be something that is ingrained in the Californian music culture, from LA’s own Frank Zappa and Jim Morrison.

The slacker scene itself is clearly far from being idle, as it is clear with the rich scene that has arisen as of late. With the King and Queen of this ‘scene’ being Nathan Williams (Wavves) and Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast).


Nathan Williams of Wavves stands at the forefront of the slacker/stoner scene. Photo: parttimemusic

Best Coast’s debut album “Crazy For You” is an entire throwback to the golden age of lo-fi American underground slacker music of the early 1990s where distorted guitars were intertwined with the ‘anti-ambition lifestyle’ that is the epicenter of LA’s musical uprising.

“Crazy For You” is a sun-soaked love letter to LA, with its themes of love, boys, relationships and, of course, weed. The album includes such sublime singles as “Boyfriend”, recreating the same Californian lovelorn venting that Brian Wilson created during the 1960s, with a touch of splendor from Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.

Beth Cosentino is Queen for a reason, it’s through the sheer warmth and craft of the awe-inspiring songs that have been produced; making each song from the album appear new and evermore exciting.

The King, Nathan Williams of Wavves, has created such a stir on his new album “King of the Beach” with anthems of weed, and generally being a slacker, have never been produced in such an audacious nature. With a synergy reminiscent of the atonal sounds of Sonic Youth and the Pixies, with Dick Dale and The Beach Boys; this strange, yet ever so enthralling mix of both sounds has caused him to create his best album to date.

With such explosive tracks as “King of the Beach” and “When Will You Come”, clearly this ‘comeback’ has poured, paranoiac dispositions alongside self-loathing, LA’s summer sun and surf combined with a dash of weed mixed into one giant blaring concoction of sound. All hail the King.

This lo-fi ‘revolution’ is not exclusive to LA’s airwaves, as San Francisco has the seminal Girls, San Diego is home to Crocodiles, and Dum Dum Girls. Generally, something is definitely cooking at the heart of American music right now, as similar sounds have been developed by Florida’s Surfer Blood.

Their “Astrocoast” album includes “Floating Vibes”, a ‘lo-fi’ summer anthem with a fierce opening guitar riff, intense verses and a starry-eyed chorus.

Even the Kings of Leon’s new effort “Come Around Sundown”, is so clearly reflective of a ‘mainstream’ attempt of such a sound. The future seems unclear for now, but lets hope that it lasts for years to come.

Whatever it is, though, it has been spawned by the LA community, and certainly America. Perhaps it is the relaxed attitudes towards the distribution of marijuana, maybe it is the sand and sea of California, maybe it is of musical icons of yesteryear. What is for certain though, is what with the buzz around Los Angeles/Californian scene with its lo-fi indie tunes and melodies, the listener is certainly reaping their hazy outputs.

Comments are closed.