It’s almost cliche because so many people feel this way, but I would be in my absolute glory in California: great weather, my favourite landscape (desert), lots of high-level sports, Spanish architecture and Mexican food, and an epicentre for skaters and surfers. Oh, and the bloody music. From a culture and lifestyle standpoint, California – as the narrator of state-based Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy would say – is the balls, especially SoCal. So much of this blog’s presentation is indirectly or otherwise influenced by it. As for this “Scene Specific”, we’re gonna try to cover some artists that aren’t Blink-182, The Offspring, No Doubt, Weezer, Bad Religion, Thirty Seconds to Mars…basically the “no shit, Sherlock” acts. They’re huge, we know them…I mean we’ll still cover some pretty decent names, but there’s just so much great music in the region that we can really delve beyond the stars. Whether they’re born and raised or there to “make it”, Southern California rock musicians are aplenty.
So we’ll start off with a Los Angeles alt-rock duo that was California dreamin’ and went there to be part of the scene. Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse have two EPs and one full-length – which we reviewed! – and are working on their sophomore effort as we speak. They’re both great vocalists who share duties, and bring the rock with their instruments. They also get mad points for incorporating sound bites on their albums, which I’m forever down with.
The Ghost Inside
LA metalcore act The Ghost Inside are signed to city-based Epitaph Records (all the great labels based in SoCal are worth noting, too), and put out their fourth album and first for the label, Dear Youth, last year. You can also find frontman Jonathan Vigil being a diehard Los Angeles Kings fan. Lucky bastard has two recent Stanley Cups to celebrate (including one after they came down from 3-0 to knock out my San Jose Sharks, blah).
This Ventura County punk band features former Yellowcard guitarist Ben Harper, and have been largely inactive since releasing third album Pop & Circumstance in 2011. They actually did just put that album up on Spotify, Soundcloud and such. So…there’s that. Maybe something new this year though? That’d be cool.
Harbors is the indie pop project of Orange County-based David Shayne. He has a pretty rasp to his voice, and just posted a new demo called “La Brea” (California reference!) that’s a sweet little jam. Demos have been coming quite a bit actually, as presumably there’s a follow-up to the self-titled 2012 album coming. He’s also entertaining on Twitter, so give a follow and a listen why don’tcha.
Let’s go down to San Diego shall we? “A fusion of folk, rock, reggae and blues with hip-hop, funk, metal and punk” is how this notorious act describe themselves. You know them for the eclectic sound, and for the…”recreational activities” they enjoy. Their new album Meanwhile…Back at the Lab is out June 30th and they’re doing the “Everything Is Awesome” tour with the Dirty Heads. So there ya go.
Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City, USA” and gives us these long-serving punk goofballs. They’re working on new material, which is cool because they haven’t put an album out since 2006’s Shave the Planet. They were once banned from performing in Canada (not anymore) and essentially booted off Warped for insulting the other performers onstage. They goof, and they punk. Randomly, “She’s Got The Look” has been in my head lately so you go enjoy that one too.
Oh No Motiv. You are still together…kind of…and haven’t released a full-length since 2004’s Daylight Breaking…but you don’t announce a breakup because you’re not broken up…kind of. I really dig these guys: they were part of Vagrant Records’ emo/punk heyday, and by their aforementioned third album had moved on to alternative rock. The Oxnard quartet are still very musically active outside the band, but I would like to see them back at it together sooner than later.
Face to Face
Inland Empire time! Victorville natives Face to Face are, in my opinion, the best skate-punk band in the world and one of my favourites period. They’ve had some mainstream dabbling (“Disconnected” became a breakout song for them after KROQ played it) but have largely been one of the longest-standing, successful underground punk acts. Their current “Triple Crown” shows – three albums in three nights, in various cities – are something to take in if you can, especially since it’s their first three albums.
Bethany Cosentino and Bobb “Two Bs” Bruno just released their new album California Nights this week. The singles so far show some diversity, with the title track being an epic, slower, whimsical jam and “Heaven Sent” sounding like nineties alternative. It’s funny because some people say Best Coast are vapid and do the same thing all the time – although the latter is lyrically, because they actually draw from a lot of influences musically. They’re the darlings of many though, so…take that (take that! Take That?).
We’ll end with a Santa Barbara act, because we haven’t featured one from that area yet and they keep it pretty Californian. Sugarcult have had lots of success with their brand of alt-rock, including crossover, but have been on hiatus for a few years. Lights Out was their last record, in 2006, and features “Los Angeles” which is a dark-toned, bass-driven tune that I love. With songs like “Stuck In America” and album titles like Palm Trees and Power Lines, the band’s suburban, coastal SoCal roots stick out. Their social media says they’re still paying attention anyway, so hopefully they’ll get back at it with new stuff soon.
We could do multiple editions of “Scene Specific” for Southern California, let alone the rest of the state (a NorCal version will happen eventually too) but you get the idea. It’s a musically-rich area, especially for the types we cover. From the artists themselves, to labels like the aforementioned Vagrant and Epitaph, to culture brands like Vans and Hot Topic to media outlets like the aforementioned KROQ, our scene gets a lot from Southern California.
F the traffic though, am I right?