Rapper Cecy B's Hard 'Werk' Pays Off

Categories: Spare Notes

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Francis Bertrand
We don't see Chicana femcees like Cecy B representing OC all too often. We'd have a lot more people paying attention to us if we did. With her endless swag, speedy flow and devastating sexy appeal, it's a wonder this former San Juan Capistrano resident wasn't discovered a whole lot earlier. But thanks to new management and a big break opportunity from the legendary radio personalities/producers the Baka Boyz, her latest trap happy single, "All I Do is Werk," is working its way onto FM airwaves from coast to coast.

Even after moving to Miami where she is preparing to blow up, Cecy B's OC roots remain steadfast (she's still got plenty of familia and fans here). On Cecy B's website, the hometown homegirl offers up her Hustle in Heels mixtape for free. The collection features Lil Rob on the brown pride anthem "Mexico." The video for the song got airplay on MTV3. The femcee is currently working on her new album hoping to drop this summer with live shows in the mix. We talked to Cecy B about her new song--which has an extremely hot video that deserves to be viewed again...and again...and again.

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Quique Cruz Is a West Coast Rapper With a New York State of Mind

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Ryan Spencer
Quique Cruz "El Terrible"
Ever wondered what a West Coast Nuyorican rapper sounds like? Look no further than Quique Cruz, whose latest Quique's Rebellion: El Terrible Strikes Back drops lyrical references to both the Santa Ana ghetto and Hell's Kitchen. Built on ample doses of battle rhymes and political manifestos, the 14-track collection displays the Puerto Rican MC's breadth of talent. A veteran of the OC hip-hop scene, Cruz's natty roots go way back to the days of rockin' Koo's Cafe with his Youth International Party crew. He has worked with the likes of LMNO, 2Mex and Mr. Brady. Cruz is a capable producer and drops his Earth Bound Sound brand of beats throughout the new album to prove it. On mic duties, his flow stays smooths in the cut.

Whether it's the political diatribe of "Can't Stop the Resistance" on the album or the storytelling vibes of "Born & Raised," Quique Cruz will have you joining his rebellion.

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The Songery Produces Way More Than Just 'Two Songs'

Categories: Spare Notes

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The Songery
You don't really expect much folksy, female singer-songwriter music to come out of Orange County, and you definitely don't expect that kind of music to float up the Copper Door's stairwell on a random night in the middle of the week. But, thanks to Whittier-based Aly McMahon, "The Songery" when she's performing on stage or in the studio, Downtown Santa Ana might as well have been New York's East Village last Wednesday, when McMahon took the stage at the Copper Door to serenade a modest crowd with her playful, stripped-down brand of piano-backed indie folk.

McMahon's been playing similar shows since October, when the freshly graduated 23-year-old finally recorded her demo, Two Songs a Day Keeps the Doctor a Way, a 13-song collection of raw and unpolished music that she wrote between the ages of 18 and 21. Even McMahon will admit that it was more parts practice and catharsis than magnum opus.

The record was partly recorded to give McMahon some studio experience and something for the merch tables at shows, but what resulted is a graceful collection of feathery, percussive vocals and fragile emotion -- uncanningly like early Regina Spektor. The album skips along at a merry pace, fueled by McMahon's coquettish, plodding vocals and deliberate keystrokes.

Her live performances add an entirely additional dimension to the music, as McMahon's playful banter, whether its based in excitement or maybe a little bit of nervousness, gently forces her audience to smile, or at least grin. Look for her to start showing up in more OC venues.

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¡Aparato! Opens Musical Doors to Other Worlds

Categories: Spare Notes

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Jessica GZ
Intergalactic Jarocho Rock Superstars!
For all the ¡Aparato! audionauts out there, the wait is finally over! The group that masterfully meshes traditional Mexican music with ethereal post-punk sounds returns from a studio somewhere in the galaxy with its self-titled debut album in hand. Anchored by the duo of accomplished musicians Cat Mendez and Alexandro Hernandez, ¡Aparato! sears through six tracks that transport listeners to outer realms. Hernandez summons effects-laden electric guitar melodies that intermingle with the strumming of jaranas while Mendez's voice is enchanting in its richness.

The band, which we named Best Latin Alternative last year, continues to find new ways to innovate. As the lore of ¡Aparato! has it, the name, which means "Machine," was inspired by a Cafe Tacvba song. Notable beat-maker/producer Eugene Toale reached out to them, learned the electronic programming Cafe Tacvba used in its early records and applied it to ¡Aparato!'s offerings!

Before ¡Aparato! beams down to the Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts (OCCCA) this Saturday, the Weekly caught up with them about their new music!

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Dodge Dart Are Still Punk as Fuck

Categories: Spare Notes

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Ali Corwin
Dodge Dart's Facebook page describes the Orange County quartet as a "very (sic) Handsome" group that writes "excellent songs!" While the former is subjective, the latter is evident on the 17 songs that comprise Lock Your Medicine Cabinet: It's Dodge Dart.

The record displays many traits of classic OC punk, which is to say it's filled with harmonies, three-chord tunes and songs that clock in at less than two minutes. There's even a cover of Simpletones' "Wanna Be Dead" that blends so effortlessly into the track listing you might think it's a Dodge Dart original.

Dodge Dart began in 1994 and has gone through more than 20 members with singer/guitarist Nicky Fidget as the only constant. The group's current lineup includes Fidget, drummer Tanner Parrott, bassist Chuk Dee and singer/guitarist Ef Davis. Lest anyone think Lock might suffer from a hodgepodge of musicians, think again. The foursome sounds so well-rehearsed you'd never know they weren't the original lineup. We caught up with Fidget recently to chat about the band's new record with a few tangents thrown in.

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Justin Abram's Unexpectedly Emotional Ride on 'Miles Away'

Categories: Spare Notes

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Jared Chambers
Justin Abrams wrote Miles Away with sense of passion he'd never experienced before. The eleven-song LP, available January 28, recounts the tumultuous relationship that took Abrams' songwriting career in a new direction. While the subject matter is familiar, the multi-instrumentalist asserts that writing a record full of love songs was an unexpected experience that changed him as an artist. After reuniting with longtime friend and producer Jim Wirt--whose resume includes work with Fiona Apple and Incubus--Abrams set out to record an album that he claims is his most sincere and heartfelt yet.

Abrams got his start at the age of fifteen, as a member of Nickelodeon-based act Drake 24/7. He moved on to form the indie act Beyond Conception with his brother and bass player, Matt Abrams. While he enjoyed the four-album run with his brother, he felt the time had come to branch out and go solo. At the beginning of his musical career, the Laguna Niguel native sparked a friendship with fellow Dana Hills High School alum Andrew McMahon, lead singer of Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin. The residual advice and mentorship from McMahon helped build his relationship with the piano, which is arguably the highlight of Miles Away.


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Rapper Vally Vicious is Maturing 'Between Takes'

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Vally Vicious on the mic!
Los Angeles can boast a plethora of women ripping mics on the underground scene, but what about OC? The ladies are stepping up to represent and Fullerton's Vally Vicious started the new year right dropping Between Takes, her first studio effort. (Download it here!) Going through a number of name changes, the pint-size rhymer from Abstuxz is poised to make a name for herself as Vally Vicious by mixing tenacious word play on "Bars Over Bullshit" with reflective tones on "Dreams on Truth." She exchanges verses with Vanessa Lynnae, a dope MC in her own right, over a biting, distorted bass laden beat on "Animal Style" that exudes hip-hop culture. All throughout Between Takes Vally V's infectious vocal pitch demands to be heard.

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Fugue Are Students of Fugazi, But Aren't Quite Claiming Edge

Categories: Spare Notes

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There is no bigger name than Ian MacKaye in the hardcore punk world. Not even Henry Rollins has done as much to shape the moral and musical ideology often associated with the scene. Although the reason the band started was from trying to cover a song from the band Karate, Fugue are often compared to Fugazi--not just because of their obvious name similarities. Singer Garrett La Bonte's often writes their songs with a basic punk structure before adding elements of shoe-gaze and atmospheric post-rock, making their sound a new interpretation of post-hardcore. During the band's off time La Bonte works to protect and nourish the growing Orange County DIY scene.

While routinely opening up for Dad Punchers, a side-project from Elliott Babin of Touche Amore, La Bonte has had time to start a label, publish his own zine, and work on a collective where he helps bands book shows at DIY spaces that are not traditional venues. The band Dad Punchers and Fugue are so intertwined, Bassist for Dad Punchers Mike Smith's label, Mountain Man Records is co-releasing the new two song 7-inch. In one of the first show's Dad Punchers performed, the collective booked a vintage store where Fugue also performed. Not only do the bands work together on music, but La Bonte's zine's first issue has an interview with Babin where they discuss La Bonte's religion.


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Signa Elevates Latin Alt-Rock Sounds With Help From Vampiro!

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Julio Salazar
From left to right: David Barrera, Paul Droste, Abel Muñoz, Beto Gudiño
Signa, a Costa Mesa-based rock en español band, is back with an impressive new recording. Produced by none other than César "Vampiro" López--the guitar virtuoso of Jaguares and Maná fame--Temporales is a clean toned, highly polished four-track EP that elevates the musicians to a higher plane. Always spiritually minded, Signa held firm to their commitment to follow up their debut Cuando se ponga el sol with a heavier rocanrol sound. Vampiro plays guitars on "Cielos Abiertos" (available for free download) while Humberto "Beto" Gudiño's vocals, among the most underrated in OC in any language, shine on the title track that ponders the temporal nature of earthly existence. The rhythm section is locked tight in the grooves while the guitar work is exemplary--all of what is to be expected given Signa's talent and Vampiro's guidance.

The band even belted out an immigrant anthem "Pinches y Jardineros" (also available for free download) with the solidarity slogan "Todos somos ilegales." Check out video of an acoustic version of the song before guitarist/vocalist Beto Gudiño gives the Weekly his spare notes on Temporales.

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Emcee Classiq Displays His Hip-Hop Virtues on "Cupid's Vices"

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D Pham
Emcee Classiq
Releasing a good conceptual album is no easy feat. Having it center around the trials and tribulations of relationships always runs the risk of being too contrived. Anaheim-based Emcee Classiq manages to avoid all of that in finding the right lyrical arrows on Cupid's Vices. One-third of the Brothers Next Door, the rapper teamed with producer Rubix for the eight-track effort. The beats are chill and the themes topical. On "Respect the Situation" Emcee Classiq kicks off the conversation rhyming about mutual temptations left alone outside existing relationships. Such restraint goes unrewarded as bouncing bed springs open "I Should've," setting a scene of deceit and betrayal.

Cupid's Vices closes out with "White Dress Syndrome" which puts a wedding proposal as spoken word over a beat. The risks are rewarding and Emcee Classiq's delivery is adept. The effort is reminiscent of Brother Ali's The Bite Marked Heart EP. What the album ultimately means, the local rapper says, is up to each listener, but the Weekly gets Emcee Classiq's take!

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