Top 5 Honors: February 2014

Time for another installment of unEARTH Music Hub’s Top 5 Honors where we recap the past month with a look at some of the underground talent that blew us away. This can be in the form of album releases, shows, or all around exceptional contributions to the underground Music Scene.

1. Hotel Cinema
Hotel Cinema astounded not only the unEARTH team but a hoard of other show-goers present at the Detroit Bar where we caught them this month. Their music is astounding and mesmerizing. What can only be defined as experimental in genre, Hotel Cinema blends rich layers of deep synth, and guitar effects while front woman, Keeley Bumford, builds complex harmonies with herself through the mastering of loops and tonal effects. The result is one of the fullest, boldest, aggressive and all around most creative sounds to come from an underground/local group in the last few years.

These guys and gal do something different. They are innovators within their genre and craft who deserve a world of recognition from audiences of all demographics. See them play, you’ll thank yourself.

2. Alice Wallace
Never pitchy, always humble, and always smiling, Alice Wallace is one of those artists you WANT to see do well. Watching her career for the last few months it can be concluded that Alice is on fire and her hard work has been realized more than ever as of February. In the past few months she has taken her full band, stage show to new heights and has proven that she can rock the house down like the best of them. Her performance for the OC Music Awards Best Live Band Showcase this year revealed this sentiment. Complete with yodels and a well-oiled team of skilled musicians, Alice proved that she has upped her game to a truly competitive level where she is hard not to recognize. When we first met her few years back her set was geared to a mellow, country, singer-songwriter influence; as of February she can add show stopping rock n’ roll to her repertoire.

Alice Wallace is one of the busiest artists in the area. She is taking her role as a professional musician very seriously and is always on point in planning for the future and expanding into other markets. She returned from touring Florida last week and already has multiple gigs lined up locally, including an appearance at the biggest tap takeover Orange County has seen featuring the brews of Ballast Point. (Shameless plug: unearth Music Hub are partners in putting the event together). Keep an eye on Alice as she plans on moving forward and growing into other markets and here at home. See her live, buy her music and give her a hug. She’s a class act.

3. The Originalites
These crazy cats have upped their game, people. We have watched as The Originalites have gone from a basic beach band with a sax and an insane drummer, to pioneers in the strongest revitalization movement of ska, beach, and reggae. Complete with high energy, strong crowd interaction, and grooves that will set your body in motion, The Originalites are a strong force to be reckoned with in all things local music.

The band is filled with overtly talented musicians who all know their way around and solo but, most importantly, they know when to showcase these talents. The guitarist can shred, the sax can wail, the bassist is constantly moving, and the drummer is a god damned psycho path. This distinct stress in musicianship provides the perfect backdrop for a punk, ska band and when the time comes to shred face, The Originalites take full advantage.

Ska forward isn’t the only trick the band has up their sleeve… They can harness the mellow essence of beach groove and reggae as well which fuses together perfectly with the ska notes. These guys know how to put on a show and grab the listener’s attention. They are not afraid to take risks and they are true showman in their execution.

4. The Higgs
“Orange County’s Jam Band,” though self proclaimed, is the only and best way to describe The Higgs. The Higgs provided the unEARTH team with their first jam band experience and it was truly unforgettable. They groove, they rock, they flow, they’re smooth, they freaking JAM! Their music is deep in influences and layers but, fundamentally, they are pure rock n’ roll.

The Higgs exude a vibe that is whole-heartedly rooted in rock n’ roll, blues, and (at times) jazz. Their songs are filled with directed changes that allow one of 3 guitarists to solo, all with distinctly different styles, driving the listener to many different places in every song.

All players bring a particular edge to the floor when it comes to playing the songs. Each song (all of which are roughly 10 minutes long) consists of reoccurring themes like standard verse chorus sections, but where The Higgs come alive is when they transition into their bridge sections. These moments are typically filled with anywhere from 3-5 changes with transforming guitar solos to follow the change. A different player will pick up the appropriate lead be one of technique, swiftness, or tonal wails. It is freaking magic, man. This band is tons of fun and their music demands a serious listen and audiences to groove to.

5. Detroit Bar
This isn’t a band. Detroit Bar has been a home for local music as we know it here in Orange County for a long time and February was the classic venue’s last month. We will miss it. A book can be written on all of the contributions Detroit Bar has provided to the music community. To name a few:

1. If you wanted to play music, you could find a way in there. They were never stingy on who could or could not play on their stage.
2. The sound was good and the door prices were cheap if not free. It was the perfect home to discover new artists because they took out part of the risk of walking through the doors to see a band you have never seen before… If they sucked; who care’s it’s not like you paid much to get in…
Which brings me to my next point…
3. The lineups were generally REALLY great! It was unheard of that a showgoer couldn’t find at least one band in an evening that wasn’t worth their time and getting out of the house. It was a destination and Detroit Bar was a beacon for touring bands that were just waiting to be discovered.

We will miss it and hope that the new ownership will treat its legacy well. It is true maybe the place did need a face lift, but that doesn’t mean that Orange County didn’t love it for what it was. It was a home, a party, a stage, and a place where music and those who follow it can flourish, live, and be accepted. We raise a glass to your name Detroit Bar, and we will see you in another life!