Greater California's Choir-Driven Dream Pop Perfectly Captures Long Beach's Music Scene

Categories: Spare Notes

Aaron Giesel
Greater California and their supergroup choir at the First Congregational Church

Long Beach's Greater California has been a band for so long that their website still links to a Myspace page (where you can read about the history of the band circa 2002) and the only full interview with them available online is from one of L.A. Record's first issues (where they talk about recording their second album between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.).

But that's all part of the territory for a band with such a deep history with nostalgia--which also includes more than a decade of comparisons to Odessey & Oracle-era Zombies and choruses that fleck of youthful psychedelia. And it definitely doesn't mean that the dreamy pop five-piece is a relic from the city's post-Sublime past or that they're still not making some of the most beautiful songs this side of summer (the band is also now on Facebook and Instagram).

In fact, frontman Terry Prine, his Wurtilizing wife Kari, drummer Greg Brown, guitarist Chris Berens and bassist Shea M Gauer are as much motivated by Long Beach as they are an indelible part of it--and they've just released a new single that proves it.

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Miss Char's Rap Skills Are 'Self Explanatory'

Photo by KILLcREY
The Queen of Juice County
Miss Char excavates the depths of her soul knowing an unexamined life ain't worth rhyming about. With that, OC's top femcee debuts with Self Explanatory, an 8-song mixtape that only pads the 18-year-old rising rhymer's resume. The title is suggestive of the subject matter as the rapper literally seeks to explain herself. All throughout, Miss Char displays an old school experimental underground rhyme style, delivering dizzying truth sermons before relaxing into a hippie haze. This dynamic is most pronounced on "Wounded," an anti-materialistic anthem extolling the virtues of a spiritually-minded life. "It might seem like a mess, kid / Just watch what you digestin' / Might just go and spread the infection," she warns before going into a slinky chorus. The wisdom from the youngster shows potential and promise for years to come.

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Veteran Rapper Buxaburn Goes 'The Distance' on His Latest Album

In the never ending race for hip-hop supremacy, Buxaburn is a tortoise if we've ever seen one. With longevity on his side, the Santa Ana rapper has been recording music since 1992 and says he's been inspired by hip-hop culture since 1980. His latest album, The Distance is the 7th solo project for the rapper and 14th overall. It comes with beats laced by Quique Cruz (aka Bo'kem Allah) and guest features like inDJnous on the cuts. Buxaburn comes with skillfully delivered lyrics informed by street politics and often times accentuated by reggae influenced vocal inflections.

From back in the day, Public Enemy's 1987 song "Public Enemy No. 1" gets a gritty make over with Buxaburn turning in some of his finest political diatribes. "The cop on the block / Call him officer nervous / Harassment, brutality / He offers his service." Wrapping things up to the present, the rapper professes his undying love for hip-hop on the title track.

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Rapper Sage One Delves into Doo-Wop

Sage One and Deejay Lala
Sage One turns into a retro rapper in his latest musical move, one that would make Art Laboe proud. The 21-year-old Costa Mesa wordsmith is dialing back the clock to the smooth vocal harmonies of doo wop. Melding classic cuts with boom bap beats, Sage One presents The Oldies But Goodies Collection. Samples of "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos and Pete Wingfield's "18 With a Bullet," show the merits of the audio experiment. Sage One's 420 makeover of "Mr. Sandman" stands out as the most hilarious with the chorus rhyming: "Mr. Weedman / Bring me some weed / You've got the dankest shit / That I've ever seen!" The Chordettes probably never thought of being re-imagined in such a way!

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DeeJaeeBee Baptizes OC With Neo-Soul

Categories: Spare Notes

A soulful crooner of immense talent, DeeJaeeBee delivers a musical rite of passage with his debut effort The Baptism. Throughout the album's offerings listeners are immersed in the sounds of Neo-Soul, a genre rare around Juice Town. DeeJaeeBee, who hails from the hip-hop group Locally Grown Collective, initiates OC with his baritone vocals, poetic rhymes, and reflective tales of love's travails.

The singer/rapper assembles a diverse crew of local producers for The Baptism including 4th Beats, Hands Uno, YoKartelli and others. On "Young Man, Old Soul," DeeJaeeBee strike a tone recalling the spirituals as he repeats the track's title over layered harmonizing. His Locally Grown Collective cohorts DaveAllen and Endz team up for the triumphant title track showcasing that DeeJaeeBee flosses proficient rhymes, too. "Love Fades Away" is another Neo-Soul standout beaming with the lessons of breakups that come in life. Towards the end of The Baptism, the realization of just how complete an album it is sets in. Sure, there are tracks that are stronger than others, but the entirety of the effort is a compelling achievement.

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Evan Stone and the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band Perfect the Poetry of Futuristic Funk

Categories: Spare Notes

Thumbnail image for evan_stone.jpg
Ernestine Lona
How about an Evanescent BLT?
The Orange County-based music performance ensemble of Evan Stone and the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band is a kaleidoscope of creativity. About the only art form not incorporated into its broad experiment is painting though its surreal sounds bring the famed Salvador Dali's "I don't do drugs, I am drugs," quote to mind. Dancers, magicians, jugglers and other purveyors of entertainment get in on the act during live shows. But when the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band decided to assemble its debut album Music From the Future, those elements couldn't be captured on record. That doesn't mean the resulting effort is any less captivating or innovative.

Organized into Side 1 and Side 2, Music From the Future has 10 identifiable tracks--or perhaps the whole undertaking is one long form song? Audio collages serve as transitions as the Translucent Ham Sandwich crew serves up that nasty jam band funk with biting bass lines even cholos can dip to. There's no simple verse-chorus lyrics here, only poetic pontifications about politics and deliveries of the slam variety. Prog rock and the improvisational spirit of jazz is imbued throughout proving that the translucent ones are also transcendent.

The Weekly hammed it up about Music From the Future with drummer Evan Stone.

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DrewID of Speach Impediments Sets It Off on The 4th Letter

Mavi 'Big Seek' Corral / GhosthouseFX
DrewID beholds the mic of gold
After making the city of Placentia recognize, DrewID of the rap group Speach Impediments is venturing off on his first solo effort. Don't fret, SI fans, the group is staying intact. DrewID, born Andrew Pasillas, is just giving hip-hop-heads some fresh cuts to vibe to in between albums. The Mexi/Irish mic controller enlists Goblinbeatz on The 4th Letter, gracing listeners with eight tracks. For the alphabetically challenged, the title refers to "D," as in DrewID, while bringing Rakim's The 18th Letter to mind.

The EP's first single, "Set it Off," does just that, with LD lacing the song with the illest scratches while Ariano adds his soulful crooning on the hooks. DrewID flexes his lyrically muscular rhyming, "And if you want beef/You can come get you some/All that talk is tofu/ Sweeter than some Cinnabons." Other tracks delve for depth, such as the self-reflective "Fork In the Road" and "It's a Shame."

With assists from Matrix and Abstract Rude, The 4th Letter is a bass-heavy, bump-worthy contribution to Juice County's growing hip-hop playlist prowess.

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Rapper Cecy B's Hard 'Werk' Pays Off

Categories: Spare Notes

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

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

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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