Top 25 Greatest Orange County Bands of All Time: 14-6

14. Reel Big Fish

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Zany, wacky, ska-rooted (though they rock harder now) Reel Big Fish elevate self-deprecation to an art form, thanks to a malcontent lead singer in Aaron Barrett, who beats you to the punch with peppy lyrics like "I'll never be anything, anything at all." He lays down these anti-What Color is Your Parachute? salvos over bright horns and zippy uptempo rhythms, which just add to the dark humor of it all. But if Barrett's insecurities are a grease fire, then fame--or the prospect of--is the water that spreads that shit around. More than two decades into their career, the band is regarded are more than just a popular band with horns, they're a touchstone of the hodgepodge of alt-rock culture specific to OC-- loud, sunny, sarcastic and ever-changing.


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13. RX Bandits

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By the time they took an official hiatus in 2011, the RX Bandits were almost unrecognizable to the average fan who lapped up their quirky, horn-happy ska-punk in the mid '90s. Tracing a stylistic evolution that dates back to their 2001 effort Progress, you can hear a more sophisticated ployrhythmic version of the band (formerly the Pharmaceutical Bandits) taking shape with several line-up changes and a decade of experience behind them. Over several more albums, the sun-baked soul of vocalist/guitarist Matt Embree aligned more with Sam Cooke and Nina Simone than it did with No Doubt or Reel Big Fish. Though the eventual departure of sax player Steve Borth and trombonist Chris Sheets was a major hit to the band, it also pushed them to finally, once and for all drive a nail into the coffin of their ska band label. Musically, guitarist Steve Choi, bassist Joe Troy and drummer Chris Tsagakis rocketed off to an entirely different proggy planet, where reggae, salsa and cerebral punk riffs intertwined to create an identity that was as effectively reinvented and re-invigorating as any band could hope for. Reemerging this year with a handful of shows in Brazil, were hopeful that one day the bandits will ride again on a full-time basis.


12. Cold War Kids

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A lot of the praise (and blame) for the current state of indie rock can be traced back to bands like the Cold War Kids. In effect, the explosion of the Fullerton-bred quartet (who wound up leaving us for Long Beach) was a bi-product of what we'll call the Garden State era of indie rock--bands ushered in by a Zack Braff film that, for one reason or another, basically helped kickstart our modern love affair with all things folky, depressing and old-sounding (face it folks, without bands like these, Instagram wouldn't exist). Watching them develop in tiny concert dens like Plush Cafe (R.I.P.), even we couldn't have predicted how big they'd get on the heels of their 2006 debut Robbers and Cowards. We guarantee you that even half a decade and two albums later, there is a generation of hipster bands who still hold that songs like "Hospital Beds" and "We Used to Vacation" close to their flannel-covered hearts.



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21 comments
zorak3160
zorak3160

The Aquabats! Will always be number one in my heart <3

berkinislek
berkinislek

worst list ever avenged sevenfold should be number 1 why always visionless people do those lists ? waste of time

mariposa
mariposa

suburban rhythm, the biggest band that never happened, they were usually the headliners when they played all those $5 ska shows that everyone else launched out of, and they tore it up!

OCWeeklyMusic
OCWeeklyMusic

@tylersonic Not as key as you think it is...name the paper that's covered Long Beach better than anyone else again?

Paul Lister
Paul Lister

Although not technically OC, Sublime is much more influential than an 8th place showing.... So says I

Jake Hall
Jake Hall

Aquabats #6...damn kinda high...or ur high, but they do deserve to be on this list

Wilhelm Eckstein
Wilhelm Eckstein

don't forget Moonwash Simphony from Fullerton(now goldenboy)

rossd2005
rossd2005

Avenged Sevenfold rated higher than RX Bandits? Fucking blasphemy!

dougzimmEETV
dougzimmEETV

@RXBandits A well deserved accomplishment. Much love and respect!

OCWeeklyMusic
OCWeeklyMusic

@clira65 @OCWeekly consider it reparations for Cold War Kids and every other OC band that moves to Long Beach and gets "claimed." Haha.

tylersonic
tylersonic

@OCWeeklyMusic haha I know readership is at a premium, esp out of half a million people here. Just don't go calling snoop an OC rapper ;)

clira65
clira65

@OCWeeklyMusic @OCWeekly haha! You can have them back.

OCWeeklyMusic
OCWeeklyMusic

@tylersonic We wouldn't dream of it...he's all Diamond Bar now, LOL

OCWeeklyMusic
OCWeeklyMusic

@clira65 @OCWeekly As long as you're not waiting for Sublime to be included in the 25 greatest LA bands...that just doesn't sound right

clira65
clira65

@OCWeeklyMusic @OCWeekly you are so right my friend. I must admit.

OCWeeklyMusic
OCWeeklyMusic

@clira65 @OCWeekly And someday Long Beach will have a list-making alt-weekly again. Until then, LBC bands know where their bread is buttered

clira65
clira65

@OCWeeklyMusic @OCWeekly that’ll never happen. LA is too cool to recognize anything from Long Beach.

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