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by Keavin Wiggins

Back to part I

twelvehourmary continued...

Guitarist Stu Richardson brings to the music a multi-textured guitar and keyboard sound that really helps define the core twelvehourmary music formula. Mark Romans tackles the drums in a way that adds a whole new depth to the music, it only takes one listen to a song like “The Final Idiot” and hearing the patterns Mark is playing to see how much his skills adds to the overall sound of the group. 

Lyrically, Brett Bixby can be considered a modern day Paul Simon because the way he lays out his lyrics they tend to conjure up images in the listener’s mind, which is something that Simon’s early work did. The lyrics are not only visual, they are intelligent and thought provoking and it’s not a stretch to say that some of them would qualify as poetry. Not the boring stuff you had to read in school, I’m talkin’ rock poetry! 

Here is a little taste of Brett’s lyrical skill from “Snowshaker”:

“never need to say more / than a listen can explain / in the wake /  I’ve gotten back with lonely /  still I miss the oneoff ways /  you punctuate the day /  strange to feel it happen fast so slowly … it feels a bit like furnishing an empty room / and dropping out the floor / staring at the fixture on the / ceiling”

With the recent addition of Bill Lanham on bass and his exceptional musical skills and showmanship, twelvehourmary seem to have the lineup to take things to the top. When the band isn’t winning over fans with live performances across Southern California, they find time to go into the studio with producer Rich Mouser (Weezer, Corrosion Of Conformity, FenixTX, Vast, Oleander) to record the music that will make up their debut album. The results thus far have been amazing and one of the completed tracks, “The Final Idiot,” has become a top request on Orange County’s “Cool Radio”.  The band recently updated fans on the progress of the album with the following posting on their website, “we have a few more tracks to go, we got our producer/wunderkind Rich Mouser leading us toward the promised land.” 

The promise land indeed; this band does hold a lot of promise and all it will take is one A&R man with enough vision and a label with the muscle behind them to help that promise be fully realized. 


Wonderlove


What can you say about Wonderlove? They simply rock! Ok, there is quite a bit more to them than that. But damn, this is absolutely one band that has to be seen live to be appreciated! Every time I see them, the energy coming off the stage is mind-boggling and the band plays the clubs like it was the Forum! 

It’s hard to accurately describe Wonderlove’s music without making it sound like less than it is. They have a modern guitar driven power-pop feel, with an emphasis on power but also capture the essence of stadium rock of years gone by. They put on a big show with only their instruments as a backdrop, there is no need for theatrics or pyro. These guys accomplish with just their music what many bands only wish they could put across with several hundred thousand dollars in stage layouts and special effects. Not to give the wrong impression but seeing them live kind of makes me think that this is what seeing Guns N’ Roses might have been like when that band was burning up the Hollywood strip. 

The music is powerful, loud, and flat out rocks but it’s also very melodic and accessible. You wouldn’t peg Chris Paul Overall for a frontman to a band like this after a casual encounter with him. He doesn’t come off as your stereotypical ego driven rock vocalist, he is more down to earth and easygoing. So it’s a bit of a shock the first time you see him take command on stage. But after a few moments of watching him captivate the audience the initial shock wears off, all preconceived notions fall away and you know this guy is the real deal and he could give any seasoned frontman a run for their money. His powerful vocals lead the way but he doesn’t do it alone. 

Guitarist Brian McIntyre is what a lead guitarist in a rock band should be--an excellent musician who also has charisma and an unmistakable stage presence. As a rock photographer I love shooting Wonderlove shows, especially Brian, because with the way he carries himself on the stage it is almost impossible to snap a bad photo of him. Stylistically and visually he comes across as a reincarnated Hendrix meets a tophatless Slash. When mixed with Chris Paul Overall’s stage presence you have the classic frontman/lead guitarist paring that has made legends out of many bands but is also sorely missing from most mainstream rock bands today. 

That dynamic frontline is backed up by an excellent rhythm section. Bass player Dave Beste provides the bottom line that helps make Wonderlove’s music such a powerful force in concert. He also has a look that causes the girls in the front row to bat their eyelashes at him. Yeah it’s about the music but we all know that to make it in rock, with very few exceptions, you have to have the look to back up the tunes and when you get these four guys on stage it’s no surprise that they attract beautiful women to their shows. That’s a big bonus for the guys who show up for the great music but also get the chance to mingle with the attractive female Wonderlove fans! 

Last but certainly not least is Wonderlove’s drummer Dicki Fliszar, who pounds away at the drums with conviction, bringing it all together to give Wonderlove their big rock sound. 

One thing in Wonderlove’s favor is the fact that they dropped their keyboard player Jesse Nason. If anything was holding them back from being a powerhouse rock group it was the keyboards. Sure they are nice to have for shading but Wonderlove doesn’t need a keyboardist draining away the energy they put forth with their music. The ironic thing is Jesse was dropped for going after his fellow bandmates ex, and in the end that was the best thing that could have happened for the band. So one day he may be watching MTV or listening to the radio and discover what he threw away. I hope he’s happy with his leftovers cuz it may be one of the worst mistakes of his life! (I debated leaving this little bit in but you gotta point out these things. It’s part of the rock n roll experience. One of those twists of fate where someone makes a stupid decision that turns out to be fateful for his bandmates. Just ask Pete Best, he’ll tell you all about it.) 

I know some would quickly disagree but I see Wonderlove finding a place among the edges of the raw rock revival. Yes, they are far more technically competent as musicans than the leading bands in that movement and their songs have much more structure and depth but it’s their energy and the subtle retro rock shadings in their music that may one day help make them a band that can take that movement in a whole new direction and become its clear leader. The funny thing is, Wonderlove like many Long Beach bands don’t keep their eyes on the trendy music scene, even in rock circles. They seem content to just make the music they love and hope that the enthusiasm they generate will catch the right peoples attention and they will get their big break. So never let it be said that Wonderlove or any of the bands featured here are trend followers, if anything they have the potential to be trendsetters, which is just one more reason to respect them. 

Wonderlove have the makings of a superstar group. All the pieces are there, the raw talent and the music. But most importantly they have the willingness to go to any length to achieve their dream. No gig is too far or too small if there are potential fans to be had and an audience to rock. They are one of the most active bands on the So Cal music scene. One look at their tour date schedule shows the other half of the story of why they have gotten as far as they have; they have the music and but also go the extra mile to make sure people hear it. Gigging can be grueling and sometimes egos get in the way but with Wonderlove they appear to be a band that genuinely love playing gigs and take every opportunity to perform and bring their music to the public and it’s paid major dividends, with a large and loyal fan base, critical praise, a number one song on Orange County radio, and not to mention pulling in two major awards at the Orange County Music Awards this year including "best indy rock band" and“best live band.” If there is a potential fan out there to be converted, Wonderlove’s attitude seems to be “let’s go!”  It hard to imagine even the most jaded person in the audience not being won over within five minutes of Wonderlove hitting the stage. 

I can go on and on about these guys, but I’m starting to sound like a publicist and not an objective music journalist. But the truth be told, it’s bands like Wonderlove and the others featured here that inspire me to do my thing; which is tell people about how great they are and yes when compared against bands like this, it also helps to tell people how bad some other, even majorly successful, bands are. 


Lowfive

As long as there have been rock stars, there have been “supergroups”. A supergroup generally comes together when musicians from other notable bands get together and form a new band. Lowfive fits into that category with former members of three exceptional bands; Bird3, The Flys and Queens of the Stone Age. 

As I said earlier I was a bit upset when Bird3 broke up, they were the band that introduced me to the whole Long Beach music scene, which was like honey to a bee for a music scribe like myself. But as sad as the break up of Bird3 was, in it’s wake we have ended up with two great bands instead of one. Bird has formed a new band that included Bird3 drummer Michael Miley and bassist Greg Coates has gone on to join Lowfive. 

Greg Coates provides the Long Beach connection for Lowfive, having been a long time fixture on the Long Beach music scene as a member of not only Bird3 but Twelvehourmary as well. Readers who have read our coverage of Bird3 in the past know that Greg is one of those rare bassplayer who approaches the bass as a lead instrument, so he really adds a lot to any band he is with. 

The other talented players in Lowfive include frontman Nick Frost, guitarist Peter Perdichizzi and drummer Nick Lucero. Peter and Nick Lucero worked together previously in the Fly’s but Nick is best known for playing drums with Queens of the Stone Age. 

It’s nearly impossible to nail down Lowfive musically since their music is constantly evolving. Nick Frost employs a unique style with his primarily tenor vocals that sneak into falsetto at key moments. That technique really helps give the songs a signature sound. Matched with Greg’s progressive basslines and Nick Lucero’s  hard hitting drums, the band would be compelling enough even without a talented lead guitarist but that just makes Peter Perdichizzi shine that much more. The first time I saw Lowfive live they reminded me of Tool meets the Cult. The Cult connection comes from the lead style of Perdichizzi but that sound has changed over time and the band has moved into a realm all their own. They recently entered the studio with producer Chris Goss (Queens of  the Stone Age, Stone Temple Pilots, Kyuss) with his guidance and the evolutionary character of this band, it is hard to predict what their debut album is going to sound like. But one thing is for sure, it will be cool as hell!  Look for more coverage here as this band moves along their path to stardom. 


Sara Overall 


Sara Overall, sister of Wonderlove frontman Chris Paul Overall, is the final artist we will looking in this first installment of our look at the Long Beach music scene. Technically, she isn’t part of the Long Beach music scene but after witnessing her open for Wonderlove about month ago, I just had to write something about her. My exposure to her has been limited to one show and a couple of MP3’s I found on the web but that was enough to really get my interest going.

The first thing that struck me when watching Sara’s band was the level of the musicianship in the group as a whole. Typically female fronted bands stick to the basics and the instrumentation play the simple role of background but not so with Sara’s band. The lead guitarist is the secret weapon in this group that makes Sara’s exceptional vocals that much more potent. 

The songs are first rate, Sara’s voice falls somewhere between Alanis and Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo. She has a powerful voice like Alanis but like Hanley she doesn’t have to resort to the strange distortions that Alanis employs to get her point across. The music is pure modern rock with strong lead vocals and  masterful guitar leads that really sets Sara apart from other female artists. She has an exceptional voice and the song writing is world class.  For the record, with few exceptions I don’t usually go for female rock vocalists. Very few can pull it off convincingly but Sara can hold her own against any male rock vocalist on the block. Overall, from my limited exposure to Sara and her band I was blown away and really expect big things from them. Unlike her brother’s band, Sara’s band doesn’t have a very active gig schedule. I have to assume that they are holding back and honing their craft getting ready for the major assault, but even given that fact, there is already major label interest in the group. I can only imagine how far things can go once Sara and her band take the bull by the horns and head out to actively take on the So Cal music scene. They will be a force to be reckoned with!

That wraps up our first installment of this special series. Check back soon as we look at more artists emerging from the Long Beach scene so you can have even more proof at your fingertips why this is the music scene to look to when you are looking for a center of creativity to make a major contribution to the music mainstream in the coming years! Johnny Jones, Buchanan and Bird are just a few of the artists we will be looking at in the coming weeks, so stay tuned… lots more to come! 

For now check out the links below to learn more about the bands featured here today and more important listen to the songs to hear for yourself why Long Beach is the scene to keep an eye on!  Until next time, I've got shows to go see so I can tell you about them.  I’ll see you next time!  - Keavin


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