By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Tub was our favoritest band ever there for a spell, a bunch of guys who cranked out wickedly catchy guitar riffs so sated with hit potential that we couldn't imagine how their songs never made it to the radio. Find a copy of their EP, White Over Purple, and you'll hear astoundingly obvious shoulda-been-smashes like "When I"m Down"; so-sugary-it'll-rot-your-eardrums power-pop like "Don't Touch There"; a groovy electro-orgy called "Red Room—Red Room"; and the glorious "Coffee & Pills," which you could call their artsiest piece, with its spoken bits lifted from the old '40s flick Rebecca and its oh-so-rock-&-roll tag line "Up and down/Throwin' shit around." They made an excellent full-length, too—Coffee Tea Soda Pop Pee, for an L.A. indie imprint—not as gritty as the EP, but still better than almost everything else we were hearing locally back in '98. Great bands 'round here rarely last, of course, and sadly, neither did Tub.
25. Jann Browne
"The only difference between me and the people at the Swallow's Inn," says Jann Browne, "is that they dance and I sing. We all have to get up and go to work the next day." That quote aptly sums up the unpretentious character of the Laguna Hills singer/songwriter of some of the damn finest country/roots/rock on the planet. The former member of Asleep at the Wheel followed Count Me In—arguably the best release of 1995—with an extended period of personal turmoil and artistic silence. Yet a reinvigorated Browne resurfaced in 2001 with the independently released Missed Me By a Mile, a semi-autobiographical work brimming with both heartache and hope. Her tobacco-stained voice and writing partner Matt Barnes' searing guitar lines highlight this stellar collection whose raw emotional core digs straight into our gut. She's OC's Queen of Country; raise a glass to her.
26. Derek & The Diamonds
Al Green's a great entertainer, but sometimes an inconsistent and lackluster one. A way of assuring a screaming performance—it was discovered one night at the Coach House—was to put Derek & the Diamonds on in front of him. The veteran OC soul band burned so hot that Green had to pull out all the stops in his show to keep up. Singer Derek Bordeaux, guitarist/singer brother Byron and vocalist cousin Vinson Quarles grew up in the only black families then in Garden Grove, and were subjected to so many taunts and fights because of it that they stayed indoors after school playing music. When they took it public, they smoldered, tearing the covers off cover songs, transforming them into spiraling, sweat-raining epics of emotion. The Diamonds have splintered into splendid fragments, but the Derek Bordeaux Band is still pouring a funky vigor into the local nightclub scene.
27. The Busstop Hurricanes
Sure, the whole band is frolicsome and tasty, but there's none so tart and tasty as Twisty Lemons, the guitar goddess with the perfect hair and the icy demeanor who reduces happily married men to gibbering morons. Catch a show for yourself. While singer Mick grinds on a table, Twisty's liable to climb up on a bar—her face as bored as Billy Zoom's—and shred like she's Ruyter Suys, but with a marvelous ennui. All, of course, while lying on her back. And while all their music's outrageously fast and fun, ask for "Burn," the cowboy serenade on the pawnshop guitar. It's a preposterously beautiful love ballad with a Spanish gypsy beat, dark and smoky and horrendously perfect. Ask now.
28. Jackson Browne
The prototypical sensitive '70s singer-songwriter spent his teenage years attending Sunny Hills High in Fullerton, where his father taught. Browne also grew up to be the prototypical celebrity political activist, getting arrested while demonstrating against nuclear power plants, penning tunes decrying the Reagan administration's disastrous Central American policies, and putting on so many benefit concerts for progressive causes that it's a wonder how the guy with the omnipresent bowl cut has made any money. He got his musical start right here, playing open-mike hoot nights at assorted OC coffeehouses during the '60s. The genesis of Browne's political upbringing, though, was at Sunny Hills; whenever his uptight teachers went off about the longhairs protesting the Vietnam War (one of whom claimed that free speech activist Mario Savio was clearly insane just because, well, he looked insane), Browne would demand that the teach explain himself. Last time we were at the campus, we noticed a series of plaques paying tribute to famous Sunny Hills alums; Browne, needless to say, isn't represented there.
Sonichrome put out a brilliant pop-rock album on Capitol Records in 1998 called Breathe the Daylight, which tragically—and typically—went nowhere (pick it up for cheap at a good used CD shop). And we really do mean brilliant—every song, even the ballads and the distortion orgy that closes it, was a stunning, ridiculously catchy, hook-rich piece of work, and if we were ever to compile a list of Greatest Major-Label Albums by OC Bands, Breathe the Daylight would absolutely be in our Top 5. The thing so sticks to us that we can't help hearing Sonichrome svengali Chris Karn's voice loudly wailing "Steeeeeeep on outside, and breeeeeeeathe the daylight" every morning when we go out to fetch the mail—are we sick, or what? Karn, who also played guitar in oft-praised Standing Hawthorn before forming Sonichrome, is still active—these days fronting the band Deccatree—and can be found playing regular gigs in clubs like the Gypsy Lounge.