Pecks Goes From Graffiti Emcee to A City Kid

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Nick Nuk'em
"I just wanna be painting and making music till I'm dead," Pecks says, stoked, as he walks away from the tagged canvas that had been replastered many times over. A summer breeze swirls through the Anaheim alley where the 19-year-old and his OG homie Kenos are making calculated strokes. A light, pink dust drifts through the 80-degree air, producing a synthetic odor that hits your nose every few moments.

But the board would undergo yet another revamping on this Tuesday. Before pulling out the wooden canvas from the garage (he calls it a "G") of another of his homies and putting his "baby Rustos" (cans of Rustoleum-brand spray paint) to work, Pecks and Kenos stroll to Remy's Liquor for a few 32-ounce Miller High Lifes and a pair of Swishers in a slim foil pack.
Pecks has recently become weary of frequently tagging in public. "I be gettin' up, but I don't wanna mess up what I got going right now," he says wearily.


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Pastel's Style of R&B Makes Him a One Man Scene

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Courtesy of Pastel
Gabe Brenner is fifteen minutes late to lunch and thirty years late to the music scene. This is not to say his ethereal take on smooth R&B is 80's rehash -- rather that we could've used him back then. He might have rescued the sax from Careless Whisper era George Michael. No matter. He's here now and he's quickly making up for lost time.

Very quickly, in fact. He uploaded his first batch of songs under the name Pastel a little over a year ago, just as he graduated from the Orange County School of the Arts. One of these songs, the deliriously minimal "Ode to a Toughened Woman" almost instantly caught the attention of music blog Crack in the Road. "It was just a birthday present for my mom. I honestly didn't think much would come of it," Gabe explains.

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Bedroom Jamming With Bent Jetty

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A few bedroom jam sessions, late-night drunken guitar strumming and hourlong GarageBand recording sessions between bong rips: What started as hazy hangouts while guitarists Wyatt Strassner and Matt Wiste and vocalist Greg Gamarra were students at Tesoro High School and continued during their college days in San Diego eventually formed into the wave of folk, pop, funk, indie and rock that are Bent Jetty in 2012. The juxtaposition of the band's limitless structural sound coincides with the idea of warped wooden beach-pier planks, or jetties, that influences the group's name.

"We wanted a name and sound that evoked imagination and provided a wide range of times to listen to our songs," Strassner says. "Our folk songs are perfect for a sunny afternoon chilling in your back yard or out in nature; our rock songs will get you amped up when you're driving, and some are random stories we created out of the ether of our consciousness."


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Karaoke Training With Mr. Mister Miyagi

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There's no pretension in the very existence of Mr. Mister Miyagi, a live '80s karaoke band that has been a mainstay at Alex's Bar in Long Beach for more than a decade. Jesse Wilder, the founder, guitar player and agent for the group, calls it as it is: "With Mr. Mister Miyagi, you get to be the lead singer of a real five-piece band that plays one-hit wonders from an era we're so fond of waxing nostalgic over. . . . You are Siouxie; we are the Banshees. You are Adam; we are the Ants. You are Madonna; we will touch you for the very first time."

The band's name--a portmanteau of the "Kyrie" hit-maker and the character from Karate Kid--is an obvious hat tip if you're older than 30. "We almost called ourselves the Xanadudes," Wilder says. "We also considered Boy George Michael Jackson Browne."

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Wake the Flok Up: OC's Newest Rogue Hip-Hop Radio Show

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Courtesy of Wake the Flock Up
On the back patio of Anaheim's Revolution Studios, the crew of the hip-hop podcast Wake the Flok Up eagerly awaits the arrival of Medusa. Landing the Gangsta Goddess of West Coast rap herself is a pretty major get for a show that's just starting to make noise. Guided by Koncept, the show's host, Wake the Flok Up is banking that long-form interviews with underground legends and local rappers will help put Orange County on the map for the genre.

Koncept (born George Martinez) enthusiastically explains the mission of Wake the Flok Up as producer Fluent Rhythm works to transform the recording booth of the show's new home into something ready to receive the evening's special guest. "We started the podcast out of Fluent Rhythm's garage," he says. "There was one condenser mic in the middle, and I would interview the artists I knew."

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DMF Are the OC Punk Version of 2 Live Crew

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In the 16 years that Johnny Rage has fronted the thrash-punk outfit DMF (which stands for, you guessed it, Dirty Motherfucker) he's never felt more competent than he does with this group of musicians he's playing with right now. But this isn't saying much.

Johnny formed DMF with the intent of being bad to the point of notoriety. "I had these horrible players with me," he recalls of the early days. "We would purposely try and drive people out of the clubs... but then people started to come just to see this band playing this outrageous shit that was offending everybody."

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GRN+ GLD Collective Keeps OC's Beat Scene on the Map

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Tristan Cruz
It's called the beat scene, and it's huge right now. Laptop music composed with software with names such as Logic, Reason and Ableton. It's not really EDM--it's too weird and undanceable. Think of it as rapless hip-hop, but more jazz in composition, more punk in ethos. It is the underground art-and-music movement that will define this generation. Up in LA, it's happening under the name Low End Theory, a weekly event that traces its roots back 10 years to a producer named Daddy Kev who has bred such artists as Nosaj Thing, Gaslamp Killer, Glitch Mob and Flying Lotus.

Here in Orange County, we have GRN+GLD Collective, a younger crop of beat producers making a similar push. Nine or 10 guys from all over OC--Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Diamond Bar--collaborating on tracks, mixing and mastering one another's EPs, pushing the envelope that's been licked, stamped and sealed by their LA counterparts, and adding some OC flavor by making it a little grimier, cruder, more garage-y.

See also: Examining Kalva Won's Bedroom Beats


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Alice Wallace: Fullerton's Hee-Haw Heroine

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RJ Corby
"Orange County's country music scene is kind of asleep right now," Alice Wallace says, despite a fan base that has supported acts everywhere from the late, great Crazy Horse to the Honda Center. "There's a lot of indie, punk rock, even some blues. Country is buried and kind of underrepresented."

Instead of just complaining about the situation, Wallace did something to help to fix it. The Fullerton-based front woman recently joined forces with some of Orange County's top local country artists to create a weekly "California Country" series at Big's Bar & Grill in Fullerton. Wallace hits the Friday-night showcase this week and hopes the fledgling series will light a fire in the local country-music community.

Wallace's knack for saccharine melodies, impeccable Appalachian-style yodeling and storytelling make her an ideal person to bring some extra hee-haw to this grassroots movement. The Florida native's sophomore full-length album, A Thousand Miles From Home, was released late last year and spawned multiple mini-tours, including an upcoming two-week run with her guitarist Tom Bremer that meanders through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.


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Empyrean Throne Are Lake Forest Vikings

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Empyrean Throne have almost all the qualities of a vicious, Scandinavian, black-metal band. They hold a mythological and literary name, hang Viking war banners at their live shows, and utilize dark, symphonic instrumentality. Vocalist Andrew Knudsen even sports a pair of Gorgoroth-style spiked cuffs on his forearms. Yet there is an important characteristic astray--they're from Lake Forest.

We all know punk, hardcore and metalcore have definitely left their mark on OC music culture. But it's rare to see a young, local band heavily inspired by European black metal and such gargantuan acts as Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Fleshgod Apocalypse. After a trip to Scandinavia in 2011 to connect with family heritage, Knudsen and bassist John Ashbaugh forged their OC sextet as the "American answer" to their Nordic, black-metal brethren.
"Being in a band in Orange County near the big music and film mecca of Los Angeles has helped in finding musicians interested in playing this European style of music and being passionate about performing," Knudsen says. "A lot of people are into these heavy, beat-down slam bands."


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How Breach the Summit Stumbled into Their Dream Festival Gig

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Jerry Kasai
How about this for a first time festival gig: landing on the same bill as Foo Fighters, Outkast and Jack Johnson. If that sounds ridiculous, imagine how Irvine indie popsters Breach the Summit felt when it actually happened to them. Considering that their guitarist is still in high school and only one member is of drinking age makes nabbing a slot on the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, all the more impressive. Before hitting the road for their inaugural festival appearance--in a fixed-up 1995 Ford Champion mini-bus--the band has a warm-up hometown show at the Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen in Fullerton.

Last October keyboardist Sam Beresford was cruising through a flurry of Internet music contests when he came across The Big Break for Firefly. At the time he wasn't familiar with the competition or the fest, and after entering, he didn't give much thought to the outcome. After being notified that BTS made it into the top 15 out of 2,500 entries, he had a moment of disbelief.


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