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Are You Too Late for the Trend?
28 Local Greats

Saw this band the other night, and they killed us. Played some bar to four people, gummed the dew off a few beer bottles, and then they left like nothing had happened. Happened again at a house party. Different band popped every vacuum tube in the house, then sat out on the porch smoking while no one talked to them. And then again on some markered CDR. Broke the stereo so it won't play anything else. And then another band and another and another and—yeah, now we could call it a trend. And this isn't even all of them, but we scooped up a few. Some are so new you can still snip the price tags off their amps. Some have been around for a while but off our radar—no matter how many shows you play in San Pedro, OC Weekly (the O and C standing for Orange and County) cannot cover them—or under it. Some came out of nowhere, and we gotta convince them not to fuck up and go right back. And some just deserve to be here. Something to do every night; something to listen for when you're not doing anything. Show up late, but not too late.

EL CHIVO EXPIATORIO

(Fullerton) Ska and rock urbano are two of the least inventive genres in the Latin alternative galaxy. So why are we so loco, then, over El Chivo Expiatorio, a Fullerton-based outfit that sticks to those styles like hummus to a pita? Because all riffs lead to Chivo's front man, Jesús "El Pelos" Olvera, a staff writer for the fine Spanish-language rag Al Borde and the county's most tireless promoter of everything rock en espańol (not associated with JC Fandango). Sonic activism on Pelos' behalf is fine and all, but that doesn't necessarily put out the perky songs about Bush's foolish wars, the idiotic heart and alcoholism that get ska fests from Downey to Chicago chasing after the brothers-and-cousin Chivo trio. Nope, that schizoid-but-talented songwriting emanates from Pelos' blitzkrieg mind: one lobe switches tempos between ska's twitchy scratches and rock urbano's blues-based blasts faster than Rummy changes alibis, the other transforms every lyric into a sparkling opportunity for Spanish-language puns, the likes of which haven't been uttered since Tin-Tan. Add that to a stage presence more auctioneer than rock star, and El Chivo Expiatorio is la naranja's equivalent of a traveling carny show—minus the bearded lady and the World's Smallest Horse. WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: not for a while. They're recording a full-length EP that they can pass out in concerts rather than the . . . WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: . . . fine self-produced demo they recorded last summer. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: jesus@alborde.com. (Gustavo Arellano)THE DISTRACTION

(Long Beach/Huntington Beach) It's been a long, ugly march toward pretend superstardom for the Distraction, but after three years of improbable misadventure—lineup changes! Passport irregularities! Lymph cancer!—these new wave snobs finally accomplished something they could pretend to not care about. With new singer/ex-mortician Hot Rod Todd and new drummer/ex-Auto Trader delivery boy Peter Pan Motherfucker augmenting usually blond guitarist the General and cheerful bassist Triple J with (says the General) a lot of welcome negative attitude, the Distraction started moving fast: where punk is all plod, the Distraction is instant action, barfing out 10 quick minutes of gutter new wave like last night's Wild Turkey, then adjusting their scarves and strutting out the back. That kids love them so much is a testament to just how unsalvageable the American family really is: the first 1,000 copies of their three-song Trouble at the V EP—the debut of the new lineup—sold out in, like, 48 hours, with some of the more intricately packaged versions going for unconscionable amounts on eBay. "A kid e-mailed me and said he bought two on a buy-it-now auction 10 minutes after it was posted for, like, $180," says the General. "I told him he was stupid!" WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: no shows scheduled this month; they're recording an LP. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: Trouble at the V 12-inch EP on TKO Records; upcoming live DVD available at smarter record stores. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.thedistraction.com; you might also check the Yahoo! fan group dedicated to them. (Chris Ziegler)THE DAYS END

(Long Beach) Hard art rockers the Days End aren't the typical Southern California band, all the way down to their instrumental setup: two guitar-playing shouters and a drummer. You'd figure it's some sort of artistic statement; rather, as guitarist/singer Robert Sammelius explains, it's convenience. "Now the chemistry is there between us, so having to work in another person? I guess we're just too lazy to do that," he admits. "And we're control freaks, too." And while Southern California's fickle attention span seems to get shorter every year, Sammelius hopes tastes may again shift back to slow-mo guitars because, he says, "We're the ultimate guitar band." It's a sound more suited to the industrial climes of Chicago—Shellac and Don Caballero are obvious antecedents—with twin guitars that do heavy without being metallic and drums that never take the shortest route from A to B. To add to the "commercial appeal," vocals are usually an afterthought: "I kind of think of us as an instrumental band," says Sammelius, "with vocals." WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St. (entrance in back), Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. June 26. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: split seven-inch with the Manifolds on Shaman Records or their demo CD. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: thedaysend@yahoo.com; coming soon, thedaysend.com. (Rex Reason)DUSTY RHODES AND THE RIVER BAND

(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

(Costa Mesa) "It's about waking up one day and realizing you don't even know yourself anymore," says Brandon, the man behind one-man-band/dance-party-in-a-bucket the Image Bulletin, explaining his infectiously catchy eponymous song. "It has a reference to Siddhartha in the third verse about finding oneself in something as simple as a river and the feeling of pride you experience at realizing your own potential." So it's a quaint little concept, really, not to mention one utterly unexpected by anyone who's ever caught one of his frequent local gigs. Not that we wouldn't put it past Brandon to work Buddhist themes into his keyboard-heavy disco-trash anthem—the song includes a killer, borderline cheesy rap breakdown, after all. It's just that, well, whenever we've heard his stuff—be it during a show at La Cave or at a party in our best friend's living room—we weren't really listening so much as dancing. Dancing like an epileptic homeless lady in a sea of hip-shaking hipster winos; dancing because what with his fuzzy boards, superb drum machine samples and fantastically deafening guitar riffs, we couldn't really hear his vocals, anyway. And that's a shame, see, because the best thing about the Image Bulletin is actually Brandon's alluring, almost-Bryan Ferry-esque voice. Then again, considering his sneaky Siddhartha references, maybe that was his plan all along. WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM NEXT: at Avalon, 820 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 515-4650. Thurs., June 24. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: MP3s available on www.theimagebulletin.com. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF HIM: theimagebulletin@aol.com. (Ellen Griley)THE MAIN FRAME

(Long Beach) For most musicians, putting a label on their creativity is a no-no. And even though the Main Frame do resemble an upstart reincarnation of the Manchester sound, ultimately, they're a pop band. "We write pop songs," says bassist Bill Repke. "Those songs have synthesizers and electronic drums in them. Sometimes you can dance to them." The band's first release, Curse of Evolution, was heavily influenced by Tubeway Army, but Repke—along with keyboardist Rob Wallace, drummer Trip Waterhouse and guitarist/vocalist Steve Krolikowski—are expanding on their original idea. "Our newer material is far more diverse," says Repke. "Early New Order, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, '80s electro. All very rhythm-based but still keeping the original pop aesthetic we started with." But until the new sound drops, we're still happily obsessing over Curse of Evolution's haunting "Ravenous" and its crushing chorus: "This is the last time I let you into my head!" WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: their practice space—at least until they're done recording music for their upcoming EP. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: Curse of Evolution CD on Bird in Hand Records. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.themainframe.org; band@themainframe.org. (Kat Jetson)THE MATACHINE

(Costa Mesa) Two years ago, a little-known OC band aptly called the Pomp were the "it" thing among hush-hush junkies and scruffy, bleach-haired goons, terrorizing local audiences with broken mic stands, fiery tongues and a bassist whose playing ability was up there with Mr. Vicious. Their musical talent was underwhelming, sure, but they made up for it in brutal showmanship. So no surprise that a year later, they fell apart in a monster catfight and took another six months to make nice. Except the drummer was gone. So they pulled in a tough-as-nails, Swans-adoring femme fatale named Amanda to pound the kit and changed their name to the Matachine. They've now upped the doom and gloom of their tunes and gotten "serious," but they still maintain that bitter existentialist bite. We asked: How would you like people to experience your music? "People experience music?" they wrote back. "I thought that was consumption. Creativity and individuality seem to be whittled down to easily consumed commercialism. [It's just] more intellectual homework that ends in violence. No more deadbeat consumers!" Huh. In a weird way, that makes us proud. WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: promoters still remember banning their asses as the Pomp, so the band's been limited to parties and hole-in-the-walls like Zen Sushi. They're working on booking a June 22 to 30 tour from Costa Mesa to Olympia, but so far no dates are confirmed. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: they've got demos for sale at shows but prefer you download their tunes for free off their site, www.thematachine.com. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: e-mail 'em for an invite to one of their ragers: thematachine@yahoo.com. (Mehran Azma)THE NEW FIDELITY

(Long Beach) The New Fidelity are the old Lo-Fi Champion (get it?) on Viagra. Not priapic necessarily—but with a new lease on life: hooky, melodic, ebullient and blissfully free of all that plodding perfectionism that used to gum up the works. Which is not to say that the New Fidelity (Lo-Fi's Dan Perkins and Roberto Escobar along with Cleveland transplants Shawn Malone and Billy Parkinson) are slapped together or even punk, but just that currently everything is green and new and invigorated and shiny and easy for the nine-month-old foursome who, according to Perkins, have been getting all kinds of Beach Boys comparisons. From idiots! Aside from their masterful harmonies, the New Fidelity sound nothing like the Beach Boys and everything like the soundtrack to an '80s movie that was never made. Take the wistfully danceable "Casa Grande" for instance, about a "sunny winter's day bike ride through Long Beach." John Cusack should be on that bike! Or "First Day," about doing dishes in your apartment and reflecting on the way that love sometimes walks into your life . . . and fucks it up! Molly Ringwald is doing those dishes right now! Seriously! WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with Blow Up Blow and Makeshift Love Affair at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St. (entrance in back), Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Sun., 8 p.m. 21+. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: self-titled demo available at shows or through their website, www.newfidelity.com. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: info@newfidelity.com; ww.newfidelity.com. (Alison M. Rosen)LONG NGUYEN

(Westminster) Troubadours are a peso a million, but few weep with the same solitary vivacity and vision as Long Nguyen. Like the bards of yore, Nguyen arms himself only with a guitar (sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric, always plucky) to lament lost loves, broken hearts and . . . okay, so his subject matter doesn't vary, but who cares when you've got chops like his? His voice bobs like a dippy drinking bird, rising and lowering according to the demands of melancholy and wordplay, switching from gentle puns to pentametric rhyming schemes. And his chord progressions are as complex as a trigonometry problem and about two strings away from a Villalobos composition. The UCLA student croons mostly in English but does break out the occasional Vietnamese ballad to please the older generation. And our favorite Nguyen composition remains his bilingual ode to an unnamed beauty he once met on the bus—a woman who can become Little Saigon's Girl-in-the-White-T if someone ever discovers Nguyen. WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM NEXT: every third Friday of the month as the resident musician for the One Mic Project, a Little Saigon open-mic night that's the county's first attempt at grouping bilingual, bicultural Vietnamese youth together. For more info on One Mic, contact Taylur Thu-Hien Ngo at writetaylur@yahoo.com. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: self-titled 13-track demo, each song a little crystal of joy. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF HIM: longia@ucla.edu. (Gustavo Arellano)
Thee Indigents
Photo by Rick Bain
THEE INDIGENTS

(Anaheim) Like a lungfish crawling from the primordial sea, eventually the beach punk sound that labels like Hostage Records and bands such as Smogtown and the Stitches became known for would have to creep inland. Enter Anaheim's Thee Indigents—well, Anaheim in general, but the "Sadlands" skatepark specifically. The entire band skates, including award-winning skater/drummer Dean Randall. "Without the Stitches, Smogtown and US Bombs, this band would never have started," says guitarist Lloyd Darwin Chase. But while those bands pogo immediately to mind, with Thee Indigents, there's a distinctive inland stink here, too. Singer Richard Salazar is Bowzer from Sha Na Na aping Jerry Lee's moves (minus the piano) and Bon Scott's yowl (set to 45 RPM), and Lloyd is all Chuck Berry duck walks, guitar runs and funny hats. The hooks are sharp, they've got handclaps everywhere, and there's even a song with a '50s teen-tragedy intro. "Chuck Berry is the THING to me," says Lloyd. Oh, and the two Es in thee? Not art or marketing—just a clever way to differentiate themselves from the OTHER Indigents in Ohio. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: no upcoming gigs scheduled. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: "Brain Dead World" b/w "Been Ripped Off" seven-inch on Hostage Records. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: hostagerecords.com; www.ahmindigents.com; theeindigents@yahoo.com. (Rex Reason)OPERATOR

(Los Alamitos/Long Beach) It's 2004, and Operator just found out about 1979; good—because we're all tired of 1977. It's funny that this sort of machine-precision post-punk ("I love our name—it's about a person who doesn't act like a live being," says singer Charlie) could pop up this close to the beach bunnies, until you flash back on Middle Class, the last Crowd songs and the third T.S.O.L. album, and then it's just a relief—and a long time coming back. Operator's ex-members (guitarist Ed was in the Distraction, other guitarist Paul in Fifth Story Tenants, bassist Mike is in the Thingz, and drummer Jason had some crazy percussion project with Pat from the Alleged Gunmen) kick up a stiff-shouldered rockist racket, set off by flashy musicianship all round and arch gal vox by Charlie that fall in between Poly Styrene's fire drill and Dinah Cancer's reverbed death rattle. The tough songs are pre-Joy Division Warsaw, the tense ones are Pink Flag Wire, and the cute poppy ones—to be released later—were written by closet softie Mike. ("We aren't tough guys," says Charlie. "In fact, none of us have a single tattoo!") "Rome Burns" and "Real Nobody" are as edgy as an ephedrine enema but don't last nearly as long; Ed isn't sure if that's intentional or just a malfunctioning attention span. Either way, it's a nice attention getter, as well as a distinctive shtick: "New wave or 45 Grave?" asks Charlie. "None of the above!" WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with the Checkers at the Thunderbird, 4657 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood, (818) 766-4644. Fri.; with Minus Fashion at Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839. July 1; with the Checkers and Sick Fits (from Canada) at Prospector. July 24. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: debut single on Unity Squad Records this summer; self-released demo out now. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.weareoperator.com; weareoperator@hotmail.com. (Chris Ziegler)
Doug Schmude
DOUG SCHMUDE

(Irvine) Schmude is a terribly good singer/songwriter who's spent his life ramblin' 'round—born in Louisiana, childhood divided between Oklahoma and Texas, craft honed on the sidewalks of Boulder and Nashville—and who as of right now is, inexplicably, making camp in Irvine. We sense he probably won't be here forever, though, so we must enjoy his eloquent acoustic and slide pickings (and those of his friends, who help pepper his tunes with beautiful mandolins, dobros and violins) while we can. Wandering is a major recurring theme in his songs, too—on his album A New Century, someone's always arriving or leaving or waiting for somebody to show up. Astutely observant, Schmude reflects a world where the days pass like freight trains; neighbors complain about loud steel guitars; gamblers stick around for one last hand; and tornadoes, floods and hurricanes rip up the lives of the guilty and the innocent. Like any self-respecting nomadic minstrel, he drops place names everywhere (Dallas! Memphis! Lawrenceburg, Kentucky!), and every so often, you can almost get a whiff of the stockyards, paper mills and dead skunks flanking the Interstate. Schmude has a great singing voice, a warm, beckoning tone he frequently carries just to the edge of hoarseness. When he chants the line "There is nothing so beautiful as an open road" at the end of "St. Julian," his homage to the patron saint of innkeepers, all you want to do is hook up with him and go along for the ride, no matter where he's heading. WHEN YOU CAN SEE HIM NEXT: dunno. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: download MP3s and buy his album off his website, www.dougschmude.net. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF HIM: doug@dougschmude.net. (Rich Kane)THE PAPERPLANES

(Long Beach) Wanna know what a hard-on sounds like? It's right here on the PaperPlanes' self-released EP, and it's called "Fever Blister," with its killer Velvets-purloined riff that the Strokes tried hard to nail down but never could and the fantastic, desperate plea from PaperPlanes singer Micah Panzich ("I've got a fever blister, baby!/It's causing me some shame!"), all coated in snazzy guitars and chaotic yowling that manages to neatly wrap up in just more than two minutes, like the best rock & roll always has. But hold up—there are still vast realms of unexplored greatness in the disc's 23 minutes. "Constant Frustration" is a snappy shuffle, with lines that may or may not allude to American occupations of foreign countries (PaperPlanes aren't political, at least not overtly). "Mexico" has terrifically poppy choruses that, in our secret fantasy world, we retreat to whenever the officemates have Fox News turned on; "Mexico" should be at least as mega as "Hey Ya" was. "Time Won't Build" has a jangly quality that feels like it was separated at birth from REM's Murmur (with lyrics based on "The Torturer" by South African-born Zulu poet Mazisi Kunene; PaperPlanes aren't just an incredible band—they're smart and literate, too), sad and plaintive yet gloriously so. And "Live How We Live" is their epic, a nearly nine-minute song littered with handclaps and scream-out-loud hooks—you might think of Big Star, but like everything else on here, they hammer it into a marvelous object of their own design. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at the Gypsy Lounge, 23600 Rockfield, Ste. 3A, Lake Forest, (949) 206-9990. June 25, 9:30 p.m. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: listen to their whole EP at www.thepaperplanes.com. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: contact@thepaperplanes.com. (Rich Kane)
Satisfaction
SATISFACTION

(Costa Mesa) Satisfaction have solemnly sworn to make the world safe for air-guitar solos, which really just means they're sick and tired of hack musicians who bury their lack of chops in volume and enthusiasm. They're tired of punk, in other words, though they'd never actually say it. But singer Michael Rosas has done blustery and pummeling before (in bands such as Head First, Inside Out and Smile, who were heavy as fuck in the beginning), and he's been running toward craft, dynamics, layers, studio effects and challenging arrangements ever since. Now finally free of the shackles of Smile—a successful local band, to be sure, but one with a defined sound—he's able to indulge in all the classic melodicism and prog-inspired soundscapes his creepy little heart desires. Rounded out by drummer James Fletcher, keyboard player Matthew Fletcher and bassist Aaron Wahlman, Satisfaction makes you realize just how much that loveable garage band down the street—the one with the kids who are so full of youth and energy, ready to make their mark on the world with their whole life stretching out before them—actually sucks. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with Far Out, LA Riots, Color Turning and Controlling the Famous at the Knitting Factory, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 209, Hollywood, (323) 463-0204. Fri., 8 p.m. $7. All ages. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: four-song demo coming soon! HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.satisfactionmusic.com. (Alison M. Rosen)PART THE CLOUDS

(Costa Mesa) "I keep coming back to David Bowie, Komeda, Ray Wonder, Supergrass, Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Jim O'Rourke, Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control," says Part the Clouds' Jason Medina. "And if there are any OC bands we should be playing with, we haven't met them yet." Not quite the unbearable lightness of being in a power-pop band, but Part the Clouds—together only since February—are still at the baby band stage. Well, call it the baby genius stage: Matt Adams (also appearing as the Blank Tapes), Medina and Matt McCluer trade guitars, basses and keyboards every song or two, with drummer Joel Williams watching the back-and-forth like a tennis match, and there isn't a dropped note between them. When Medina sings (a smooth baritone—who knew?!), it's bright guitar pop like the Embarrassment, the Last or Big Star's cheeriest moments; McCluer steps in and switches over to the sort of understated mood pieces that close Before and After Science, except with better drums: "When you put your arms around me," he murmurs, "I'm weaker than I used to be." About a failed love, he says, but it's written in a positive light, and that's the only about-a-girl song they have so far. "I write about people in my life that piss me off or that I'm envious of. I also write about people—like myself—that have a hard time setting and reaching their goals," adds Medina. "Motivational hymns, I guess!" WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: in Costa Mesa sometime soon. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: there's a fresh CDR sitting in someone's bedroom. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: jmedina@virginmega.com. (Chris Ziegler)
BlowUpBlow
Photo by Tenaya Hills
BLOWUPBLOW

(Long Beach) Nice guys, these BlowUpBlow guys, but if their songs sat down next to you on the Blue Line, you'd scooch over. "Lost All Control" is as queasy and threatening as the last-call bar floor under your feet; when Pere Ubu says it's just a joke, singer Paul Zansler answers back with "Final Mistake" and its red-eyed nostril-flare chorus: "I wanna laugh!" Those tinny guitars came from space or maybe the back end of a Keith Hudson LP; the rhythm section came from either Detroit, Cleveland, Berlin or just Rush ("[Drummer] Bob [Kurthy] is King Prog, and the rest of us are but humble rock & roll knaves," says bassist Dennis Owens, whom you may have spotted in the DJ booth at Good Foot one of these Fridays), and they definitely speak their own language. "Super Tonite"—coming soon as a club-friendly 12-inch, and a song Zansler says makes him piss from happiness—stops and starts at right angles so perfect they've got to be playing the drums with the headstock of bass. But they're not. They've just got "osmotic empathy," says guitarist Eric Dunn. And it helps that they practice in the dark. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with the New Fidelity and Makeshift Love Affair at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St. (entrance in back), Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Sun. Show starts at 9 p.m.; BlowUpBlow plays about 10:30 p.m. 21+. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: single ("Final Mistake" b/w "Promise") on Soft Machine out now or in a few days. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.blowupblow.com. Or Eric said you can call him personally if you can stay up all night every night without crank. But his phone number was illegible. Still, nice guy. (Chris Ziegler)PLAY PRETTY FOR BABY

(Yorba Linda) Yorba Linda hotshots Play Pretty for Baby nail your ass to the wall with leftist politics filtered through punk vitriol, rock swagger and fizzy Motown skronk. They're tight, stylish, saucy and whip-smart—like an amalgamation of the Dischord roster, from which they steal liberally (Plays Pretty for Baby is a Nation of Ulysses album name). With a powder keg live show and an equally explosive self-titled EP, Play Pretty for Baby are one of a small handful of local bands who manage to pull politics into the mix without coming off like hectoring blowhards. "We never wanted to be an overtly political band. No one's preaching. If anything, we're just about 'let's not kill people we don't know for no reason,'" says guitarist Brian Murray. Well, he's no fun! WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: the band is hitting the road in July. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: self-titled EP on Agency Records; www.smartpunk.com. HOW TO GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.playprettyforbaby.com; or call Ben at (949) 413-2297. (Alison M. Rosen)
The Blank Tapes
THE BLANK TAPES

(Newport Beach) The Blank Tapes are essentially a one-man show operated by the ambitious Matt Adams. No kidding, either. Take his CD, Country Western Honky Tonk Saloon Blues, a 24-song, 80-minute epic (a two-record set, were these still the days of good ol' vinyl) on which Adams handles everything from writing to playing, minus a few guest spots from assorted friends, family and local semi-celebs (yes, that would be Alan Siegel—a.k.a. Tex Twil's Barry Diamond—bleating away there on a saxophone). It's a strange yet scrumptious blend of acoustic-guitar art meanderings, part travelogue, part campfire cookout, part intoxicated love sonnet and part late-night hoot, something that sounds like Beck, Jack Johnson, Frank Black, Jeff Tweedy and Ray Davies got together one night, smoked a ton of pot and rerecorded the Grateful Dead's American Beauty album. A pretty major accomplishment from a guy who's mostly strumming just a six-string the entire time, but it gets even better because Matt isn't one of those types who sacrifices crafty lyric scribbling at the expense of musicianship. The opening track, "Newport Beach," is a funny, if stereotypical, dig at people who live there; "I'm Looking for Love" is a smart tale about shtupping married ladies as their husbands come crashing through the front door that has the feel of autobiography; and the entire CD is pockmarked with break-your-heart stunners. His gigs are an informal romp, too, about as laid-back a musical environment as we've seen in OC short of living-room gigs, with harmonicas and banjo solos and fingersnaps keeping the beat. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: check the current show listing at Matt Adams' website, www.enipucrop.com. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: their lone CD; another one coming this summer, if it's not done already. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: guitarto@yahoo.com. (Rich Kane)SENSITIVE SIDE

(Laguna Beach) "We should start a gay white power band as a joke": if there's a greater band origin in music history, we've never heard it. While the Sensitive Side (or the SS—get it?) never took the joke further than pink arm bands at a party, things could only get better from there—or worse, depending on your perspective. Singer Austin Translation still describes their music as "faux fascist music with a homoerotic twist," but the band's new New Wave is more like Clash songs played by Devo channeling the Angry Samoans: strangled guitar lines, squalling 1983-style keyboards and Translation spewing his best punk rock snotballs, and it's all still catchy as hell. It may be too frantic for the wavers and too keyboard-y for the punks, but when the racialists finally come out of the closet, they'll have their soundtrack waiting for them. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at the Loft, Santa Ana. First week of July. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: forthcoming seven-inch on Vinyl Dog Records. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: thesensitiveside@yahoo.com. (Rex Reason)60 WATT KID

(Costa Mesa) When he's not busy stealing light bulbs from communal laundry facilities at nearby apartment complexes—hence the name? The 60 Watt Kid?—Dance Disaster Movement's Kevin Litrow is on a one-man mission to save the world with good old folk-rock. Except that Litrow still plugs away at synthesizer loops like in Dance Disaster, as well as simultaneously tapping at his samplers, strumming his acoustic guitar, blowing his harmonica and even finding time to sing like a young Dylan obsessed with Matmos records. Talk about overextending yourself: he's not even ambidextrous! "Mainly," he says, "what drives this music is the political outlook on what's going on in this country right at this very moment." It's a simple but honest answer, but coming from Litrow, it's a bit of a shock. On most nights, he's busy commanding legions of white-belted hipsters to shake it till they break it, but with 60 Watt Kid, it's an entirely different beast. Instead of Dance Disaster Movement's breakdancing contests and disco beats, says Litrow, "it would be nice to make people go home thinking or feeling some sort of emotional contact within themselves." WHEN YOU CAN SEE HIM NEXT: beats us. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: unless you plan on knocking down his front door and poking away at his analog Tascam 8-Track, you probably won't be able to listen to 60 Watt Kid just yet. But don't fret—he's starting to weigh his label options. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF HIM: Did Nick Drake have a website? Send your blues to dancedisastermovement@yahoo.com. (Mehran Azma)TECK ANOTHER

(Long Beach) Hip-hop is often considered a musical language all its own, and Sound In Color chief Jon Ancheta heard a dialect that blew his mind at Long Beach State: an Asian Studies student named Teck Another rapping in Japanese somewhere in the student union. Ancheta didn't understand one syllable, but it sounded righteous enough to mix with his stable of musical brainiacs in the Sound In Color crew. Since then, Teck's been producing 12-inches and casting breakneck electronic music with a Japanese flavor. "I talk about my roots in music," says Teck, who spent much of his teenage years in America but was born on Fukuoka, Japan's southern island. On an upcoming collaboration with Sound In Color DJ GB, he reprises his Japanese raps that basically translate something like this: "I'm representing Japan—nothing can compare to my style!" Probably a decent class in Japanese language would take care of any translation problems or at least put some meat to the lyrics. Then again, a crash course into the Teck Experience should mean listening to an instrumental like "Stone Cold," a five-minute cinematic hip-hop symphony that avoids pricking easy emotional buttons, says DJ GB. His upcoming, untitled EP, to be released by Sound In Color in late 2004, concentrates on hip-hop and electronic R&B. "I do three sections of song; three different ideas in one song," Teck said. "It's dope—you have more stories to tell." WHEN YOU CAN SEE HIM NEXT: no upcoming gigs planned. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: EP out soon on Sound In Color. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF HIM: contact through www.soundincolor.com. (Andrew Asch)
Foxy Autopsy
Photo by Jeanne Rice
FOXY AUTOPSY

(Long Beach) As our car speeds into traffic, Beige Sandstorm—the woman with the parking-meter tattoo—mind reads my bizarro fantasies: "Wouldn't you like to be kidnapped by Foxy Autopsy?" she asks. "Well, we have a waiting list." Before I have time to make a snappy reply or at least say, "Please don't hurt me," we swerve to a stop by the loser bar where Foxy Autopsy was born. In the Pabst Blue Ribbon-scrubbed halls of Café Bistro, Beige Sandstorm hooked up with Coco Chappelle and DJ Classical Romeo to concoct Foxy Autopsy, the girl-fronted hip-hop crew that may be one of the next big sounds to come out of the LBC. DJ Classical Romeo loops old jazz and 1960s funk soul seemingly rescued from a thrift shop's music section, and while others might use Romeo's platform as an opportune time to speak truth to power, Beige and Coco delightfully squander this chance on their tales of gay dads, partying in parking lots and avoiding exercise. Wholesome living, here we come: "We made a pact/No babies/When I get a disease, I spread it like rabies!" More surprising is Foxy Autopsy's work ethic. In 18 months, they've produced three self-released albums and regularly tour the West Coast. Wanna know Coco's take on her hip-hop experience? "It's cute but kind of scary!" WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at La Cantina at Taco Beach, 211 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 983-1337. July 23. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: new album Aquavend debuts with a record-release party at Dyzzy on Vynyl, 3004 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 436-8928. July 31. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: foxyautopsy.com; enjoyfoxyautopsy@aol.com. (Andrew Asch)THIS IS REVENGE

(Anaheim) With a few stalwarts from Anaheim's old Four Letter Words (including man-about-town singer A.J.) and the cream of the city's unattached, Revenge turned out to be best served with a patina of glammy David Bowie swagger over a million riffs and most of the venom from Black Flag's Jealous Again, plus a weirdo sci-fi keyboard to confuse the norms. Decked out in their matching outfits—from Unabomber hoodies and sunglasses to matching pistol-silhouette T-shirts, depending on the temperature—it's somewhere between the Village People (who really DID have a punk song) and the Black Panthers. They must scare the fuck out of people. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: at the Attic, 1658 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 999-9611. June 29. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: self-released demo; upcoming seven-inch on Oedipus. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: www.thisisrevenge.com; sogeneric@hotmail.com. (Chris Ziegler)


Geisha Girls

GEISHA GIRLS

(Costa Mesa) We'd heard their name and saw their badges pinned on many SoCal kids' T-shirts but never had a clue how fucking amazing Geisha Girls really were—that is, not until a couple of weeks ago when they played some totally weird party we attended. Their music—an electric shock of gloriously retro Rickenbacker rock, fusing LA's old-school Alley Cats with early New Order, right down to a spot-on cover of the latter's "Ceremony"—lured us away from our beer and conversation and into a room where their infectious buzz was punching through the speakers. Stealing a trick from the Violent Femmes, the Geisha Girls are in fact three boys—Disneyland employee/drummer Damian Edwards, entrepreneurial eBay-er/guitarist John Roller, and he's-in-the-Checkers-too bassist Shawn Munoz. But they were so right-on that night that we temporarily left the party and drove to a $12-in-fees gas-station ATM just to buy their EP. And they're still modest. "The three of us just click really good," says Munoz with a shrug. "We just wanna jam and make fun music." WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: with Scarlett's Well at the Liquid Den, 5061 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach. June 26, 9 p.m. $8. 21+. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: self-titled 12-inch EP on JSR Records; upcoming seven-inch on No. 3 Records. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: geishabooking@hotmail.com. (Kat Jetson)WELLSVILLE

(Long Beach) Wellsville craft expertly formed, hooky pop songs, sprinkled with copious amounts of aural history that shows they've been raiding their parents' vinyl collections. "West Coast," for example, has a fittingly twangy surf lilt to it, all innocent and breezy. Unlike some Beach Boys-esque slab o' fantasy, though, this tune's about a girl who's moving to Cali purely to leave her sorry-ass boyfriend behind. So long, sucker! "Endless Mike" finds Wellsville all jingle-jangled-out, like they've unearthed a lost Byrds nugget. "Kill Myself" is, naturally, one of their bubbliest, bounciest tunes. "Almost Blind in One Eye" drones on for six minutes yet maintains an alluring, seductive haunt that keeps it interesting. "Silence Is My Gun"—love these titles!—is a masterful blend of slowly building tension and release. On "Summer Blonde," singer Christian Velky rattles off a list of long-gone memories of ice-cream cones and drinking water from hoses and mowing lawns and riding bikes and bubblegum and baseball cards and, ultimately, that girl he'll never see again: "Summer blonde, you've been gone for so long, ba-ba-ba-ba." Really sweet, make-you-smile-through-the-heartbreak stuff. WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM NEXT: when things are bettersville. WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: look for their self-titled demo on Suburban Songs—probably at their shows. HOW YOU CAN GET A HOLD OF THEM: wellsvillecmv@juno.com. (Rich Kane)


The Distraction
Photo by James Bunoan
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