Top 25 Greatest Orange County Bands of All Time: 25-15
Go ahead, call us a bunch of culture-less, lily-white suburbanites with a partiality to flip-flops and right-wing politics. Those kind of labels never cease to amuse us. Because one thing that instantly dooms most of the tired cliches ascribed to OC is the music--the one-of-a-kind frustration, aggression, soul, righteousness, smartassery and freaky hallucinations that erupt from our niche in pop culture's ever-changing iPod shuffle. Breaking barriers and surprising the shit out of people is just something our bands have always been good at...Google it. Whether some of them qualify as longtime legends or brilliant flashes in the pan, there's no denying that the most influential acts in OC's music scene are forever incapable of sticking to one kind of sound. In the spirit of recognizing the best our county has to offer (in totally subjective fashion), we hit you with a list of the top 25 greatest bands to erupt from behind the Orange Curtain.--Nate Jackson
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25. Manic Hispanic
There are two things Orange County residents can expect when Cinco de Mayo comes around: a moratorium on Mexican-hating-- all in the name of a goodwill drink fest-- and a Manic Hispanic concert. This Orange County band that started in 1992 has made their mark in the music scene by taking punk classics, such as The Descendents' "Milo Goes to College" and "Group Sex" by the Circle Jerks and Chicanofying them into satirical covers such as "Mijo Goes to Jr. College" and "Grupo Sexo." The band itself is a conglomerate of O.C. punk history, their members summoned from the likes of The Cadillac Tramps, Agent Orange and The Adolescents. Without a doubt, no other band better represents the cultural mosh pit that is Orange County: the classic white majority meshing with the Hispanic soon-to-be majority.
24. Agent Orange
One of the most popular bands to emerge during the late '70s/early '80s first wave of OC punk, Agent Orange--formed by a cranky, pissed-off 14-year-old named Mike Palm--sounded distinctly Orange County, as opposed to the mostly slash-and-burn approach perpetrated by their peers Social Distortion and the Adolescents. That's because they injected Dick Dale-inspired surf-guitar breaks and more overt melody lines amidst all the usual thrashiness. In 1981, they released the Living In Darkness album, which included "Bloodstains"--not just a classic OC punk tune, but a classic tune period. The band's largest following, though, came via an army of skateboarders. They were one of the first bands to tap into the then-still-kinda-underground subculture, putting their music on the soundtracks of various skate videos. After all this time, Palm still hasn't gotten a real job, and still tours as Agent Orange with a revolving lineup of players.
23. The Growlers
Throughout their six years as a band, the Growlers have amassed a handful of bragging rights that no other OC bands of their generation can claim. The list includes playing Coachella twice (if you count the double weekend this year), garnering praise and production help from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, becoming lightning rods for South County hipsterdom and creating a sound which combines the irrefutable twang of OC's surf rock culture with haunting, San Francisco-born psychedelics. Since releasing their 25-track opus Greatest Hits in 2008, the Dana Point band--branded by the woebegone vocals of Brooks Nielsen--continues to prove that they are a band to follow and we're sure they get off on that...even though they're often thought of as masters of the "I don't give a fuck" attitude personified in their music.As they prepare to launch their latest studio album Hung at Heart, we watch admirably as they continue to let their freak flag fly.
22. Save Ferris
There have been a handful of bands within Orange County that rode ska's third wave on the coattails of Reel Big Fish's hit "Sell Out." After that Huntington Beach band died out on mainstream radio, the majority of ska acts followed suit--many except for a a band orignially dubbed Los Pantelones. The band would ultimately come to be known as Save Ferris-- they decided on a name change and nicked the title off of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as they were pushed into mainstream success after their cover of Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen." Their first album in 1997, It Means Everything, is undoubtedly their most successful with hits like "Superspy." The band's fame died out by their sophomore album as they transitioned into a pop rock genre and eventually disbanded in 2002. Save Ferris could have had the same fate as other ska acts, but in the prime of the third wave ska revival, they were and continue to be one of the leading pioneers in the genre. Despite their early end, they were able to create an album that is still prominent and cherished by OC ska fans.