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
90. Old Man Joshua
Maybe you ran across Michael Mollo and Joel McDaniel's two-man acoustic folk duo in the early '90s at places like the Winged Heart Cafť in Fullerton. If you were lucky, you heard some of the most literate, densely heady songs ever written (and we mean, like, ever, by anyone, anywhere), such as "The Perfect Art," "Resistance" and "Of Drugs and Men." If you were there the right night, you sensed that in Mollo's elliptical, Jim Morrison-esque disembodied poetics and mystical ponderings, there was a real human soul searching for something more genuine than concrete and cars. If you were fortunate, you really, really dug it; If you were blessed, you really, really got it.
91. The Great American Music Company
Bassist, composer and arranger Jack Prather's tribute band made jazz history come alive, whether he was touting obvious choices like Count Basie or less familiar giants like Coleman Hawkins. His tributes to the great American composers—George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael—gave us not only a feel for the subject's music but a sense of the man as well. Another of Prather's talents: assembling great bands, keeping great musicians like vocalist Stephanie Haynes, pianist Dick Shreve and drummer Paul Kreibich in front of audiences. And his connections in the music world led to the occasional inclusion of ringers, as when he included the Ellington cornetist Bill Berry in his tributes to the Duke.
92. Eddie & the Subtitles
OC punk was lonely at the beginning, but it would have been even lonelier without Eddie (and his legendary van!), the man so dedicated to advancing the cause in the cultural hinterlands that Angelenos started calling the world past the 605 the "Eddie Empire." The Subtitles dripped out the Skeletons in the Closet LP in 1981, but all you really need to hear is "American Society," a desperate, doped-up dirge-y drone that should have been the flip side to Flipper's pistol-in-mouth single "Ha Ha Ha." "Society" was famously covered by L7, but the downtempo 1980 original is a spooky sleeper classic, a too-little heard cry for help from the suburban heart of darkness. Eddie sounds like he's barely there by the time the band creeps into the chorus: "Don't wanna go to the movies . . . don't wanna listen to the . . . radio . . . don't wanna drown in American society . . ."
93. Ann DeJarnett & the Falcons
Singer/electric violinist DeJarnett got her start in the new waveish Mnemonic Devices before hitting her stride with her own Dr. Dream Records-era band. Quiet offstage, DeJarnett would become a veritable tornado onstage, screaming out her lyrics and sawing her violin in a whirlwind of motion. Like many a local band, she and the Falcons (featuring ace ex-Berlin guitar tone-sculptor Chris Ruiz-Velasco) only seemed to really find a sense of purpose in their music after they'd taken it on some grueling road trips, at which point they promptly broke up. Oh well.
94. Lunar Rover
Nearly unnoticed both in OC and out, Lunar Rover were a superfine band. Like guitarist Jon Melkerson's previous outfit, Eggplant, Rover's songs had a buoyancy that offset their sometimes downcast lyrics. They were also very much a guitar band, with Melkerson and fellow guitarist Dan Lawrence's twining strings displaying touches of Richard Thompson, Neil Young, Tom Verlaine and maybe even Quicksilver Messenger Service. Along with the bursts of virtuosity, they also used their instruments more like earthmoving equipment, sculpting vast landscapes of sound. They were able to work such panoramic magic even in dingy bars like Club Mesa. They made one spiffy album, Lunar Rover, in 1996, and their churning "Curry Favor" is one of the best OC rockers ever.
95. The Torquays
With a pedigree dating back to the dawn of instrumental surf rock in the early '60s, the Torquays sound like they come to the '00s straight out of a time machine. While most modern surf or surf-influenced bands (Los Straightjackets, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, etc.) debase their music with punk and a myriad of other contemporary influences, one listen to the Torquays will have you feeling like you could turn on the TV and find JFK pontificating on the evening news. Meanwhile, the group's sound and style may be true to the period, but that doesn't mean they're an oldies band: Torquays originals such as "Trilobite" and "Twitchin'" hold up with the best stuff you ever heard from veteran bands like the Surfaris and OC's other great surf band, the Chantays.
96. Jeffries Fan Club
Of the third-wave ska bands honking up the stages of OC, six-piece ska-pop band Jeffries Fan Club had one of the tightest horn sections around, owing to the fact that, clearly, they were high school band nerds. All horn players in ska bands were supposed to be band nerds—honing their chops while their cooler classmates were out getting laid—but you'd be surprised how many punk musicians just slapped on some dork glasses and then blew atonal ill winds from their instruments. Not JFC. We can all but guarantee they weren't getting laid. Their arrangements were too tight, too smooth, too tasteful. Even the bass sounded pro. Their music can still be heard on random Disney channel movies, but the band broke up in 2001 when lead singer Mike Dziurgot ironically couldn't reconcile the (kinda not very) crazy ska lifestyle with his religious beliefs.