Who will be 2012's Young the Giant? There's no denying the Irvine band formerly known as the Jakes had a stellar 2011, playing the MTV VMAs, Jimmy Kimmel Live and festivals all over the world while riding the enormous waves of their first full-length release. Here, we predict the county's next breakout artists—go see them while you can for less than $40 at a neighborhood joint before they run away from OC forever.
NICOLE VAUGHN & HER LOVELY BAND
Fans still mourning the breakup of Rilo Kiley can find solace in Nicole Vaughn & Her Lovely Band. Vaughn's career picked up steam in 2011 with the release of her album Say It. Her next release will be the first recordings with Her Lovely Band, who joined her last year. The ship that keeps her afloat in a sea of singer/songwriters, Her Lovely Band includes drummer Garrison Giali, guitarist Kris Butcher, Dylan Bowes and backup vocalist/percussionist Eli Balmer.
The Gromble are arguably the biggest, funnest band out of South County right now; their live shows ooze with hyperkinetic charisma. They have a deal with 37 Records in Westminster and will release a full-length soon.
Orange's Kiev set the local music scene a-twitter with their stereoscopic 3D performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts with Menomena in May. Three-dimensional projections of stoney illustrations and lava-lamp-like goo floated onstage as they played. Beyond a cool light show, it's their tight and technical brand of indie rock that keeps Kiev on top of the local-music consciousness.
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RAILROAD TO ALASKA
Railroad to Alaska's precise-yet-carnal sound unites indie rock fans and metalheads because of their lyrics and wild, live concerts. In 2011, they won Best New Artist at the OC Music Awards, and this year, they have been nominated for Best Metal, Best Alternative and Best Live Band.
I was really, really trying to avoid writing about them—not because they don't deserve it, but because I don't want to be caught in a conflict of interest. So I'll get this out of the way; I'm dating a guy in the band. Phew. I was forced to change my mind after Jeramiah Red were nominated in six categories for the OCMAs, tied only with Young the Giant. They surpassed groups that are nationally known and receive frequent airplay, despite the fact the band only released their first album in December—and they don't even have a record deal. From a Jan. 9 post on Heard Mentality.
This column appeared in print as "Ones to Watch in 2012."