One of the first people to hip me to Brion was OC musician (hey, with his own studio and record label!) and Gypsy Den co-owner Joe Ongie, and it was Ongie's music I was thinking of when I saw Brion—because Ongie isn't too good, but he's just right.
Where the cumulative effect of a Brion performance is nearly too precocious, blustering with more talent than he knows what to do with, you can tell that Ongie actually works at his songs, and they happen slowly enough to let more feeling seep in. On Ongie's various CDs, you'll find songs—"Beauty Mask," "Tomorrow the World"—that are at least as good as Brion's or practically anyone else's, and you've only got to go to Santa Ana to see him, where he had the wisdom to book himself into the Gypsy Den this Friday. It's free, but buy a latte or something. (Don't know what to get the mother-in-law? How about a piñata from nearby Fourth Street? You can stuff it with sushi.)
Is Nothing Sacred? Did you know there's a movie opening Jan. 11 that's sort of about Orange County, that takes place in Orange County, and that is called Orange County? Let me say again, me neither, until the soundtrack showed up in my mailbox, with tracks by locals the Offspring, Social Distortion (a live version of "Story of My Life") and a buncha other people, including two of Brian Wilson's more soulful recent tracks and a bonus CD with Zebrahead's "O.C. Life" and other stuff. The movie stars Colin "Son of Tom" Hanks, Jack Black, Lily Tomlin, John Lithgow, Kevin Kline and Ben Stiller. Could this be the year the rest of the world becomes as sick of OC as we are?