By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
72. The Offspring
The group that sold kajillions of records, the band that broke OC music open to the rest of the world, the pop-punk act that, along with Green Day, made the fuck-you sounds of anarchy and insolence safe for suburban shopping malls around the globe. Damn them if you must, but the fact is, out of the handful of OC bands who've made it mega in the past 10 years, the Offspring did it most organically. Unlike No Doubt, Lit and Sugar Ray, they never reshaped their sound to the mass market (there really isn't a whole lot of sonic difference between 1993's Ignition and 1994's multi-platinum Smash). And a lot of their songs—particularly when Dexter Holland delves into social commentary like "Come Out and Play" and "The Kids Aren't Alright"—are pretty great, too, even funny. But then, maddeningly, they'll pinch off a clichéd turd like "Defy You," making us wonder what we ever saw in them.
Bazooka were one of OC's unlikelier success stories, which was probably why they were so damn unsuccessful. In terms of making uncompromising, distinctive music, they were thoroughly successful, but the idea of a jazz-metal instrumental trio of sax, bass and drums was a hard sell to most people. The group was bassist Bill Crawford and ex-El Grupo Sexo sax players Tony Atherton and Vince Meghrouni, with Meghrouni moving over to drums with remarkable acumen. (He's since toured in that capacity with Mike Watt.) Their hard-driving, free-flying take on jazz-rock was so furious and swinging that the lack of harmonic content was barely missed. (They later amended that by adding ex-Sexo pianist Don Carroll to the band.) "Bazooka say: Crackers wake up!" declared one band flier advertising a Fashion Island gig. But the crackers slept.
74. Dan Crary
A flatpicking ace who's been a speech communications professor at Cal State Fullerton since 1974, Crary has explored Celtic, flamenco, classical and new age guitar stylings on several recordings and in concert. His most memorable collaboration has been with Italian flatpicker Beppe Gambetta, and the duo put on an absolutely fabulous tour de force at Shade Tree Stringed Instruments in the fall of 1999. But nothing tops his collection of reworked seasonal tunes titled Holiday Guitar (released on Sugar Hill Records in 1997), which won 1998's Best Seasonal Music Award from the Association for Independent Music (AIM). Not only does Crary literally reinvent the likes of "Carol of the Bells" and "O Holy Night" with transcendent string work, but his own "Christmas Blues A' Comin'" is a minor masterpiece. A Yuletide must-have.
75. The Tiki Tones
Perhaps the Tiki Tones were born too late. Otherwise, their brand of third-gen instrumental surf music—sort of a melting pot of surf-meets-lounge-pop—would have been an instant hit with OC boarders instead of hung-over barflys. The Huntington Beach quartet plays original riffs on matching blue metal-flake Fenders and shimmering Hammond keyboards. Fake-named jetsetters all, Ku (Steeve Jacobs), Lord Wahini (Ponzer Berkman), Koro (Doug Dewet) and Shag Lono (Josh Agle—and yes, he's that Shag, the same one famed for his tiki/lounge culture paintings) sport their own retro-fashion motif once popularized by '60s surf bands. They even went so far as to buy seven sets of matching outfits ranging from V-neck sweaters to color-coordinated tuxedos. The five Tiki albums are all tropical treasures that provide space for such groovy-titled tunes as "Typhoon Twist," "Sneaky Tiki" and "Man or Mancini?"
76. Fat Shadow
A short-lived band that didn't play enough, didn't promote enough and didn't last long enough to make much noise outside early '90s Fullerton. But they left an impression with their heavy, bluesy, kind-of-classic-rocky sound, which possessed an undercurrent of turbulent moodiness that manifested itself in their live gigs. We'll never forget walking into the late, great Harbor Blvd. bar Miki's to see lead singer Michele Walker wailing on a harmonica while a standing-room-only crowd stood in amazement; brother-guitarist Chris Walker wrote most of the material. We're guessing the familiarity/contempt deal between siblings added to the electrifying nature of this band's sound. Fat Shadow should have stuck around longer than they did.
77. Manic Hispanic
Manic Hispanic's core members are already represented on this list—Steve Soto with the Adolescents, Joyride and Agent Orange, Gabby Gaborno and Warren Renfrow with the Cadillac Tramps. But the finest efforts of these OG's of OC Chicano punk were on display in Manic Hispanic, the agitprop project so subversive that it makes Culture Clash's take on Chicano life seem like Wonder bread. The group's music is great—how could it be otherwise when your group covers the Clash, Ramones and Vandals note-for-note? But Manic Hispanic make their cholo-karaoke a must-laugh by giving punk's greatest snarls a Chicano spin, stuffing in tons of insider jokes for punks and Chicanos alike, and dressing up for performances like extras from American Me while howling in the most stereotypically veterano voices possible. Really, how can you not love a group who called their 2001 album The Recline of Mexican Civilization?
78. The Vandals
Vandals shows circa 1980 tended to attract rough punk crowds, which got the attention of cops, which helped get them banned from clubs and cities everywhere. Songs like "The Legend of Pat Brown," about a real-life Vandals fan who tried to mow down some police with his car, and "Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)" didn't exactly endear them to authority figures, either. Their biggest fuck-you, though, was "Urban Struggle," a middle finger aimed at the country music shitkickers who used to hang at Zubie's, a since-demolished Costa Mesa cowboy bar on Placentia Avenue that was next door to the fabled also-since-demolished Cuckoo's Nest punk club. The Vandals are still around and more popular than ever—though there are no original members left, their fans are mostly under 20, and their current music isn't nearly as provocative as it once was, unless you think that tunes about Internet dating are somehow dangerous.