Special to the Register
Friday, April 8, 2005
Orange Pop
Special to the Register

In the wake of the momentum provided by the fourth annual Orange County Music Awards last weekend at the Grove of Anaheim, there are countless new CDs that celebrate the local music scene - notably a new compilation disc that is bold enough to feature the O.C. moniker in the title itself.

Various Artists, "Orange County's Real Alternative" (FOAM) - Drawing tracks from some of Orange County's most talented power-pop, punk and modern-rock artists, San Diego-based FOAM (Future of Alternative Music) has issued a collection filled with some of Orange County's best talent.

The song selection is a smart and accessible introduction to the region's far-flung sonic pool, but chances are, most listeners will like a good portion of the proceedings. Highlights include Beyond 7's inspiring "Light of Day," Two Million Minutes' driving "I Wanna Be Romeo" and the thrilling post-punk of Mind Driver's "December Daze."

Modern rockers Halfwayhome and folk-rock tunesmith Maya Marin also deliver memorable entries on a disc sure to please fans of modern rock. Information:
You might like if you enjoy: "Of Hands and Hearts: Music for the Tsunami Disaster Fund," discs by any of the artists on "Orange County's Real Alternative."

Vale, "Vale" (independent) - With the exception of the Cure and the Church, Ican't recall hearing a band that mixes up driving guitar, reverb-drenched vocals and a haunting aura as well as local underground heroes Vale. Formed in fall 2003, the band - with singer-guitarist Dave Johnson, lead guitarist Dillon Fuller, drummer-programmer Robert Vogel and bassist Brian Fritz - has somehow fused the goth-rock instincts of Bauhaus with the indie rock of Snow Patrol.

From the accessible "Lifeless" to the forceful "Seasick," this is music for dancing, dreaming and listening. Based on the strength of the six songs on Vale's self-titled debut, I can't believe the world won't be hearing more from the masterful quartet. And that can only be a good thing. Information:

You might like if you enjoy: the Cure, Interpol, Snow Patrol's "Final Straw."

Charlene Johnson, "View From My Room" (Chaortic Music) -Blending alt-country, pop and folk with an ease that defies cliché, singer-songwriter Charlene Johnson's "View From My Room" is a 10-song disc that richly explores love, loss and anger in lyrical and musical layers almost as large as life itself. Whether dealing with self-doubt and insecurity (the intoxicating "Invisible") or the renewal of the human spirit ("Blossom"), Johnson and her husband, guitarist-songwriter Greg Johnson, have written an array of songs that delve deep into the human spirit and reveal their forceful themes and secrets with each successive listen.

In addition to the Garden Grove-based Johnsons, the lineup of skilled players on the CD includes vocalists Kerry Getz, Steve Carson and Marnie Ann, dobro player Don Reed, guitarist Randy Rusk, pianist Carol Roman, bassist John Bazz (the Blasters) and drummer Jon Mattox (Young Dubliners). Produced and engineered by Paul Stebner at Stack Boy Studios in Tustin, "View From My Room" provides an accurate look into all of our worlds.


You might like if you enjoy: Sixpence None the Richer, Shawn Colvin

Obsolete Heart, "Taxidermy" (Heirloom Records) - Looks are deceiving. And in the case of Obsolete Heart, so is listening. While the trio's dozen-song collection "Taxidermy" has a raw and sparse approach, the songs soar behind the powerful delivery of guitarist Sean, bassist Mike and drummer Brittney. Whether blistering through "Southern Belle" or delivering the tender minute-long "Lullaby,"

Obsolete Heart is a band that mixes furious and melodic rock colors with authentic vocals that recall the approach of early Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. Obsolete Heart will perform a free show at the LAB anti-mall, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, on May 4. Information:
You might like if you enjoy: Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Minutemen, Meat Puppets.

Freelancer Robert Kinsler has written about music for the Register since 1992.
Copyright 2005 The Orange County Register

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