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Are You Too Late for the Trend?
28 Local Greats

(Anaheim) Down the lonely back roads of Anaheim, where the coyotes roam and the stars twinkle through the smog, there's a quiet place where a guy can strum his guitar and sing a few sad songs, except there isn't because isn't Anaheim mostly Carl's Jr. restaurants and poison smoke from Disney fireworks, anyway? But short little sport Dusty Rhodes doesn't care; as a lad, he found something special in the dry Santa Ana riverbed ("There's water in it every winter," he notes), and now he's ramblin' on about it with his River Band (not to be confused with Riverdance), the 714's incongruous twentysomething country/rock Crazy Horse coattailers. "My CD player's broken, and I get all my records at the swap meet," drawls Dusty, taking a break from overdubbing some plaintive vocals and tuning up his accordion. "And I haven't got any CDs since." Huh. That explains why the River Band—Kyle Divine, Allen Van Orman, Tim Schnider, Andrew Babinski and Edson Choi, on down-home-y instruments like acoustic guitar and violin—sound like they should be toolin' around with CCR and the Allman Brothers. Slow heart-broke songs about whiskey and bullets, and after practice, they probably go ride the Matterhorn. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at the Attic, 1658 Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 999-9611. Thurs., June 24. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: self-released demo CD; upcoming full-length on Meaningless Records in August. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.dusty-rhodes.net. (Chris Ziegler)
Lipstick Pickups
LIPSTICK PICKUPS

(Anaheim) Squeals, handclaps, rolled eyes and snotty voices: the Lipstick Pickups are all the girls who won't talk to you at shows rolled into one band. Plus a guy. Says all-man drummer Kevin Carle, there's only one downside to carrying the sole Y chromosome in an otherwise all-female group: "They get drinks bought for them, and I don't. I like free drinks, too!" Esteemed transvestite and LA Weekly writer Falling James noted them for MOST IMPROVED CATERWAULING just last year, but the Pickups have been bashing out the candy-coated razor hooks since 2001. Except lately the hooks have been even sharper and the caterwauling even more fevered, and things are starting to roll with a CD version of their 12-inch EP on the horizon and a recently sold-out debut single on Kapow Records. And they'll give the rest of the country the pleasure of their company with a five-week tour this summer. If you see them, please: buy Kevin a drink. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with Japanther at Koo's in Long Beach on July 26 and Vinyl Solution in Huntington Beach on July 27. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: two-song seven-inch on Kapow Records; eight-song 12-inch and CD on Radio Beat Records. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: thelipstickpickups@yahoo.com. (Rex Reason)

FREE MORAL AGENTS

(Long Beach) Tempt not Ikey Owens. After spending half his life playing in rock bands that almost made it (anyone remember Teen Heroes?), the man gets recruited to play keyboards with card-carrying rock stars the Mars Volta. He travels around the world playing gigs in all sorts of sexy places from Australia to Mexico and Europe, and does he do any of the typical rock-star things? No way. When not working with the Volta, he basically barricades himself in a series of music studios throughout Southern California, helping lay down tracks for hip-hop/anti-war poet Saul Williams, whimsical electronic noise gurus adventure time, and finally his own project, Free Moral Agents, possibly the sexiest in his expanding corral of projects. That's because Free Moral Agents are riding high on the cut-and-paste aesthetic of today's electronic underground. The Agents' sounds either crash into the feedback of a wild Sun Ra star storm or stride gracefully on an Astor Piazzolla-like spectral tango, sometimes during the same song. With Ikey on Wurlitzer and Roland keyboards and a host of ProTools effects, spoken-word artist J on vocals, Jeff Harris on sound engineering, and Mendee Ichikawa singing, the agents released the full-length Everybody's Favorite Weapon June 7 on benchmark independent GSL. "We're not afraid to fail and make things that haven't been made before," Owens says. "We're not afraid to stretch what hip-hop is or what folk is. That's a beautiful thing." WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: unscheduled July gig at Fingerprints. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: Everybody's Favorite Weapon LP/CD on GSL. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: goldstandardlabs.com; runbyrobots.com. (Andrew Asch)THE GRAND ELEGANCE

(Long Beach) So Grand Elegance is the trade name of a champagne bottle with a pair of edible panties stuffed inside, and that's where this Long Beach quintet got their name. "Actually, it's called Champantie Grand Elegance," says vocalist Warren Thomas with a laugh. "We got a bottle of it about six years ago when we started the band. We just shortened it." But just like the Champantie, the Grand Elegance are a tasty mix of class and trash. Thomas, drummer Anthony Matarazzo, Chris Badger on the Rhodes, and guitarists Kyle Mullarky and Orlando Sanchez are drawing a ridiculous amount of comparison to the Doors. And though that's a fair association, there's more to this band than shirtless, bloated Jim. Simmering to the top of their new material is a sort of a down-by-the-river slink between the rock and the blues. "We just vibe off one another," says Thomas. "That's our main influence." WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: soon. And later, maybe, on tour with the Starvations. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: an old seven-inch and EP that Thomas says "isn't relevant to what we're doing now." So keep an eye out for a seven-inch on Sect 503, as well as a split seven-inch with the Starvations on Post Neo Productions. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: leanblues@yahoo.com.Kat Jetson)THE IMAGE BULLETIN

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