Photo by Jeanne Rice> AC/DC. I saw AC/DC last April at the Fabulous Forum in LA, and it made me feel like I was in high school again. They ROCK. They prove you're never too old to rock & roll. They lay down the law as one of the most amazing boogie/rock bands ever to walk the planet. I just can't get enough.
>POETRY/WORD ART. Being an open-mic host without a venue, I have really been missing hearing words spoken live by people with emotion and feeling. There are some good poetry readings around, like at the Ugly Mug Caff in Orange and the Big Damn Poetry Slam in Long Beach on Sundays. Robert Roden has a great new CD on Aphasia Press, as does Charles Ardinger. Also from the world of poets and word art sounds comes MURRAY from Long Beach—a free jazz-improvisation band with great spoken-word art from longtime poetry-scene guru G. Murray Thomas. If you have a venue and are looking for a hot band to book, MURRAY is the thing. Death to the real world.
>NOISE AND NOISES. I like noise—really loud, really quiet, really trippy. It's hard to pinpoint exactly just what that noise might be. I love sitting on a crowded freeway, listening to other car radios, engines needing repair, crying babies and cell-phone conversations. CDs by Crawl Unit, Francisco Lopez, Brandon Labelle and others are like this.
>PHIL LESH AND FRIENDS. The closest thing to the Grateful Dead out there. Phil Lesh has taken the spirit of the Dead with him into his new adventures. I was simply blown away by the first tapes I heard—lots of great classic Dead tunes and lots of surprises, as well.
>CALIFORNIA PUNK ROCK ADVENTURES. Probably the most important band in OC right now. They've got great amazing song structures with melodic catches and more energy than Green Day as teenagers. They're fronted by Josh, who is a cross between Jeff Spicoli and Iggy Pop. He's constantly proving himself one of the greatest front men in the OC band circuit.
>RED TAPE. The best new punk rock band in California. None of this "I Wanna be the Stitches" crap. This band rips it up, playing old-style, mean and aggressive, Black Flag-style punk. They're a powerful trio from Sacramento that plays down here occasionally. If you thought the old heavy-handed sound of angry youth has gone away, Red Tape will show you where it went.
>THE CROWD. The Crowd is what a punk band should be about—not ratings or sales, just punk. The Crowd burst back on the scene last year with more energy than ever and have proven themselves the best at what they do. They've been doing so for over 20 years. Watch out all other poseur pop OC superstars: the real OC Kings of Punk are coming to claim their throne.
>HOSTAGE RECORDS. In the way that Blue Note records helped to create a foundation for rising jazz greats in the middle of the last century, Hostage Records from Huntington Beach is helping create a foundation for new punk and innovative surf grooves from the OC area. They're trying to capture the history of the OC punk sound within one catalogue—no bad releases, just great artists and great tunes. Seek and enjoy.
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>THE DAMNED. Their new album is the best in 15 years, and it gets better every time I hear it.
>KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND, I'm Your Boogie Man.I just can't stop listening to this, especially when driving.
>GARAGE JAZZ. Approaching garage rock from a jazz perspective, this is the most innovative thing to happen in OC since strip malls. Instrumental garage bands, improvisation between musicians, including Instagon (see below), Frank Falupa, Bandini Mountain, RSQ, Open City. These are some of the freshest experimental things around, taking music to a new place without too many words. Sun Ra would be proud.
>INSTAGON. A personal plug. For those who are unaware of this audio demon, Instagon is NEVER the same ensemble. In eight years, there have been more than 300 persons in the band, including Rikk Agnew, George Fryer, Keith Irish, Mike Monster, Andy Warthog and William S. Burroughs, as well as members of Shiva, It's Time to Rock, the Clams, the Crowd, Action League, Neil Armstrong Band, Pif, Bassland, and many, many others. Go to www.tif.org/instagon.