Top 20 Greatest OC Albums of All Time: The Complete List

The Vandals
The Vandals
Lisa Johnson

For almost 18 years, faithful readers of the OC Weekly have counted on our music section for its continuous cycle of sniffing out local albums. It goes something like this: We search for them (yeah, we get a shit-ton in the mail, too), we listen to them, we separate the wheat from the chaff, we remind you of release dates, we champion them when they sell a bajillion copies -- while reminding you who told you to give them a listen in the first place. Along the way, we've made sure to pay tribute to the classic albums that paved the way for OC music culture as we know it. Though there are thousands of OC-based offerings worthy of our admiration, there are always going to be a handful of albums that immediately pop into our brain when someone asks us to rehash the best albums to define OC music, to represent both a time and place in our native sound. Love it or hate it, this is what we came up with. --Nate Jackson

20) LD & Ariano, A Thin Line (2006)
Few artists have done as much to bring major label talent into the fold of OC hip-hop as LD and Ariano. A quick scan of their discography uncovers featured verses from names such as U-God of the Wu Tang Clan, Chali2na of Jurassic 5, RBX and Snoop Dogg, as well as local legends such as LMNO and DJ Rhettmattic. But none of these artists would've co-signed this duo without the deft lyrical chops and baritone hooks of Huntington Beach rapper Ariano and the turntable wizardry of his DJ, LD. It all started with their 2006 debut, A Thin Line, which boasts catchy underground beats inspired by everyone from DJ Premiere to Madlib. Aside from the fact it still holds up seven years after its release, this album--the beginning of an unbelievable avalanche of material--is one of the best entrees into OC hip-hop we can think of. (Nate Jackson)

19) Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, First You Live (2007)
Nothing says, "Fuck you" to rock & roll conventionalism quite like a curly haired guy with an accordion. In that regard, it's really no surprise an outfit ike Dusty Rhodes and the River Band created such a cult following in the mid-2000s. With a mix of classic-rock gumption, knee-slapping folk, proggy complexity and the irreverent soul of squeeze box-playing front man Dustin Apodaca, the band reached the height of their popularity with their 2007 SideOneDummy debut, First You Live. Produced by former Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens, the album's gritty aesthetic, musical complexity, reliance on multiple vocalists and heartfelt lyrics helped to make this band the talk of OC's music scene for several years. Though the band officially played its last show in 2011, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Fullerton/Anaheim music scene who will hesitate to raise a fist to the chorus of "Street Fighter." (Nate Jackson)

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