Photo by Matt Otto 5 STAR CRUSH
(5-song demo, self-released)
If Orange County were a madcap teen coming-of-age movie—oh, wait, it was. But if it were the kind of madcap teen coming-of-age movie that people actually went to see, you could do a lot worse than to blast 5 Star Crush during the manic gettin'-ready-for-the-big-dance montage. Apocalyptically unpretentious, summertime-jamboree, pop punk like this is gonna crash and burn with the frosty didn't-go-to-prom hipster crowd—hey, don't look at us! We went! We're normal!—but you could sandwich a song like "Faker" between Save Ferris and the Go-Go's on KROQ (track five even documents Kevin and Bean playing one of their songs on the air, so we're not the only ones who saw that connection), which is probably a positive thing as far as everyone in Orange County who doesn't happen to work in this office is concerned. Singer Kelly's got an appropriately brassy set of suburban SoCal pipes—been singing along with Gwen Stefani in the shower?—and the rest of the band has an obvious and potent we-make-it-look-easy songwriting chemistry. We just wish someone would have shut down the studio Velveeta-tron. This demo is so slickly radio-friendly that we came back from lunch to find it desperately dry-humping a microwave with a KROQ sticker on it. A lone live track ("Slacker") veers too far in the other direction, with loagy speaker-rattling you-are-THERE-standing-in-the-back-of-the-club-with-a-borrowed-microcassette-recorder production values: sometimes less is more, but sometimes less is just less.
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OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.