Label Radio Project 1 an ambitious young groove band, a five-man deal in which the riffs fly freely, yet one in which everybody seemed strangely adrift, off doing their own thing, if you went by visuals alone. On their first song, the bassist and one of their guitarists looked to be trying to push things in a heavy direction, something that only mildly succeeded with some sludgy, Sabbathesque chords, while at the same time, their other guitarist (also the singer) threw out these pleasant jazz licks. Their conga/chimes/ tambourine dude appeared happily ensconced in his own little world, too. And yet it somehow jelled. Sure, a few notes went astray amidst the eclecticism (some even sounded like they were lifted from old Doobie Brothers albums). But at other points, they flew into Santana-style fills, which landed in wild, brilliantly colored hues, sorta like '70s metal played for tips at a Mexican street carnival. Good job, Radio Project 1!
Driving by Braille
McClain's Coffee House, Fullerton
Friday, June 2
Up the street to McClain's, yet another Fullerton room booking live music. We'll spare you our usual we're-so-old-we-remember-when-this-town-was-dead-dead-dead! rant in order to scrawl more about Driving by Braille, whom we first checked in with a year ago. We caught only the last half of their set this time, but even that was better than what we recall from 12 months ago. They still do what would largely be classified as "emo"—lots of slow-paced rhythms surrounded by abrasive guitars and pained, please-hug-me singing—but Driving by Braille have gotten peppy enough on certain tunes that you could actually dance to 'em, which is exactly what the girl behind the counter who sold us our fruit-punch Snapple did. The final tune was their best, full of intricate little guitar pickety-picks and lovingly churned chords that made us feel mopey, then sad, then like we wanted to cry, then like we wanted to kill somebody. Afterward, we stood outside pondering how far this town's nightlife has come since the days when we went to bad ol' Fullerton College, before the 'burb became cool and hip and young and was still relatively unknown, which is what it is right now but won't be much longer if we don't stop writing abou—
HB Surround Sound
King Neptune's, Sunset Beach
Friday, June 9
Shirtless young oafs, too hung up on Sublime, who performed the most lunkheaded, offensively awful punk-rock cover of "Redemption Song" our ears have ever had the displeasure of encountering. Turns out that the strange, whirling sound we kept hearing during their set was not Bob Marley spinning in his grave but the ocean of bile in our stomach, churning up whitecaps so large that our amoebas grabbed their longboards and went surfing.
The Fuse! (note exclamation point)
Koo's Art Cafe, Santa Ana
Sunday, June 11 Whutzis? A mod band? Apparently so—the Fuse! (note exclamation point) were a fashionable trio, awright, with a singer whose shiny, black shoes had big ol' buckles on 'em and one of those red-white-and-blue target buttons pinned to his shirt. He also joyfully jangled an Epiphone guitar, though we don't know if this made him more mod or less mod. The Fuse! (note exclamation point) were an okay band, not spectacular or anything, just lots of well-placed, garage-y noise, kind of what punk might've been like had it bypassed the '70s, '80s and '90s entirely. 'Course, if that were true, it probably wouldn't be called punk now, hmmm?
IT CRAWLED FROM THE MAIL BIN FELIX STRUCTURE (3-SONG SELF-RELEASED EP) Felix Structure are the anti-Limp Bizkit, a soulful, six-man jazz-hop groove armada who fit nicely with the ever-blossoming movement to rescue hip-hop from the evil clutches of the bitches-blunts-and-Benjamins crowd. This is a fine intro, dressed with outer-space allusions, cool trumpet bleats, the work of a skilled turntablist named Mike Kearns (who knows when to stand back as well as step up) and a graceful MC named Alias who preaches positivity, yo. Seems like Alias is spurting politics of some sort on "Back in Iraq," which could be more interesting (and comprehensible) if he weren't so swift with his tongue, though that's a minor caveat. Felix Structure are more about flow—they're ultra-schmoove, interested in taking your mind and spirit places, instead of just your naughtier body parts.