By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by Jeanne RiceGallas is the singing, leaping, naked gnome for The Bank Free Spin (Formerly Oscar) > Smear. Ozzy O. gets Gloria Gaynor pregnant after a passionate '70s romp; then her eggs are frozen and shot through a test tube in 1998—and voila! Smear is born! I haven't seen anybody else do disco/ metal, let alone disco/metal with such a pop sensibility. Hot off the press is their brand-new CD, featuring "Video Nasty" —a ditty that deserves radio airplay. Strong hooks, great musicianship and dirty minds make for a fun live show as well. Check it out—and don't forget your elevator shoes.
> Michael Knott. Formerly of Aunt Bettys Ford, his latest project is called Cush. Seasoned and fresh, Michael Knott always delivers, whether it's with his unpredictable live performances or the personal tales that are woven so preciously into his songs. Honest, explosive and creative, he always rocks. He's always cooking up something new—and the recipe may change, but it's always tasty.
> Mirainga. Take two bald guys, add a drummer and one white guy with a 'fro, dip them in some salsa, and watch them get their groove on. Their upcoming release, El Nueva (already rotating regularly in my home stereo), is a guaranteed feel-good dancing disc that rocks—a necessity at all parties. The beauty of Mirainga lies in their rhythm and percussion—Reno turns it on, and Hedge turns it up.
> No Doubt. I followed these guys around way back before they were rock stars. They either had me stage-diving in my tighty-whities or skankin' on top of the PA. No Doubt's live show always offers a great vibe. Their funkafiedskapopcircuscollage is always fun, hugely energetic, and always takes me to the other side (and once detoured me straight to the Cal State Fullerton detox after a drunken school's-out celebration at the famous Off Campus Pub). They deserve every bit of fame they've achieved.
> George Fryer. His latest CD, Decaf, showcases George's vast array of talents. Gems like "Teenage Lovesong" and "Waitress (I'm In Love With the)" explore youthful innocence in a way that's rarely heard these days on our rage-infested airwaves. Crafty songwriting, sweet and tender melodies, and infectious harmonies are captured throughout the entire play of this disc. If you like the Beatles, Crowded House, etc., Decaf is your cup of, um, decaf.
> Naked Movie Star. They're neither naked nor movie stars, but these boys can sure tilt the pinball machine. Naked Movie Star's straight-ahead, in-your-face (like Face to Face), no-nonsense approach will jolt your bowels and have you running for the can, singing their catchy tunes.
> Leaving Eugene. New on the OC scene, these guys are moving fast and furiously. Led by singer/songwriter Scott Pillon, this band will be turning heads with their mix of acoustic rock and groove-oriented tunes, but I hear their new stuff rocks even more. Great songs and great musicianship shine throughout. Keep your ears peeled for their new release, which should be out shortly.
> Tom Waits, Closing Time. A masterpiece of intimate and romantic tales with bare-boned instrumentation by one of the most interesting artists of our time. "Martha" is one of my all-time favorite songs.
> The Big Night soundtrack. It's a must-have if you like the Italian way of living—drinking, eating, and living life to the fullest. This disc will send you down the canals of Venice while local cafés spill the scent of sautéed garlic and onions into the night. If you rent the movie, get it while you're hungry—you'll be starving by the end credits.