By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
They've been dicked around by record labels in ways that would send most bands screaming back to their day jobs. Take, for example, their last album—which, actually, you can't, because it never came out. A shimmering slice of Latin-flavored rock & roll, the ironically-titled Nueva was finished and ready to go for three years, but their label, Trauma, dropped them before it ever saw a record shop bin. At least they think they were dropped—their label keeps selling their old songs to bizarre projects like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie soundtracks (do the mass-marketed twins-from-cute-hell know Mirainga's first EP was titled Fuck the Scene? Ahh, the subversity of life!). But they can take solace with the fact that few music executives have ever understood Mirainga's unique mix. "Every label head tries to change us," singer Craig Poturalski told us two years ago. "They always say stuff like, 'Why don't you use heavier guitars?' We're not going to do that. That isn't us." The band can still be found getting their rocks off in assorted OC clubs.
52. Sparklejets UK
A band whose players apparently never felt the need to invest in an FM radio whilst growing up, Sparklejets UK specialize in clever hooks, bouncy songs and all-around good times—not counting the occasional revenge fantasy lyric about the boyfriend who just dumped you and then gets killed in a fiery Pinto collision. They're a pop band, but not "pop" as defined by the sad minions whose ears have been rendered tone deaf by the teenage swill oozing out from KIIS-FM. They're power-pop, baby—a little Beatles, a bite of Big Star, some generous quarts of the Bay City Rollers, a couple scoops of Jonathan Richman, a hunk of Brian Wilson, and, when they really cut loose . . . Cheap Trick! Would you believe their guitar player is a mild-mannered Fountain Valley High librarian? And let this be forever known: they were the first band to ever grace the stage of the Anaheim House of Blues—we were there, we know it's true. Seek out the Sparklejets wherever you can, for they're truly a supersecret treasure.
53. The Chantays
Five Santa Ana High students who scored only once in 1963 before wiping out. But what a hit! "Pipeline," two minutes of galloping bass, reverb-screaming lead, and chords churning like the ocean, surfdom's second-most famous instrumental after Chantays contemporary Dick Dale's "Misirlou." Chantays Avenue near Santa Ana High bears the group's name.
The scene: Battle of the Bands, Hogue Barmichael's in Newport Beach, early 2002. On stage: Chicano punk band Cuauhtémoc. The lights dim, and from the darkness shrieks a primordial flute solo gasped by lead singer Coyotl. Drummer Revee pounds out an indigenous drumbeat, motivating the Chicanos in the crowd to clap rhythmically in unison as if they were summoning the spirit of the band's namesake Aztec emperor. The spoiled white kids in the crowd, meanwhile, position themselves in the mosh pit, ready, as one says, to "smack those beaners good." Soon, the piercing flute flutter segues into the machine-gun-opening chords of "Bienvenidos a Chiapas;" the Chicanos pogo so viciously that the frat boys flee to the pit's margins in terror. Cuauhtémoc's set is magnificent, beautiful—but not worthy of first place, according to the judges, who deem an Offspring rip-off better. Racism lives, but Cuauhtémoc endure.
Sure they're a little bit too much into Art Bell and Larry Elder, but questionable political aesthetics aside, Honeyslide is one of the most tasteful, skilled and downright pretty-sounding musical ensembles to ever knock about the county. Gary Williams and Liana Dutton's harmonies are knee-knockingly good, and the band's recordings are equally lush and full. Like William's patron saint, Neil Young, Honeyslide can get downright folksy and poignant in their live shows, but also can crank up the volume and let loose. Percussionist Jon Crawford perfectly complements Williams' dynamic guitar and Dutton's honeyfied voice and flute. At times, they sound like they should be playing in Morocco. Isn't it a biological impossibility for white people to possess such captivating rhythms? They're very close to releasing their second self-produced CD. One knock against them: they don't play nearly often enough.
No band championed the independent spirit of rock more than Garden Grove-based Supernovice. Despite commercial indifference, the David Turbow-led rock band released several ultra-fine albums in the mid- to late-'90s, culminating with 1997's superbly-crafted Timely. Sounding somewhere between the Breeders, Pixies and Fuzztones, Supernovice served up nourishing portions of self-torment (none better than "Let Bygones Fester") as well as the occasional ballad (who can top the Johnna Corbett-led "Stay for the Winter?"). Turbow, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Ecology at UC Irvine, often shared his contempt for pop culture with either a Graham Parker-like scowl or a tongue firmly planted in cheek. Two of his most humorous broadsides were aimed at Save Ferris ("Liverwurst") and the OC ska scene in general ("Spam"). It's undeniably fucked-up that far-less-talented OC bands hit it big while Supernovice wound up unjustly toiling in obscurity.