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So Cal Pt II: Twelvehourmary
By Keavin Wiggins

We have a long history of showcasing standout indie artists, but with this special we take it one step further and showcase standout indie artists that are making it happen on their own. The three artists that will be featured in this special in the coming weeks, Johnny Jones and the Suffering Halos, Twelvehourmary and Roxy Saint,  not only do they all hail from Southern California but have by-passed the usual rules of the music business to find success on their own terms.  As the industry becomes more and more cookie-cutter it is becoming more difficult to find artists that not only standout from the pack but also may be the leaders of a new movement in music.  The three artists featured here do not buy into conventional music business practices; neither do they pander to the current trends. That makes it more difficult to succeed, but despite the odds against them, they are all finding a measure of success on their own terms with their personal and musical integrity intact. The antiMusic Network salutes such artists, as they are keeping the real spirit of rock and roll alive, and we are proud to present these three standout artists that making are their own way, but more importantly offer music above and beyond the bland major label fodder we are used to. 

While the goal for most DIY bands is to get their music out on their own and not wait for that "record deal", the record deal is usually the ultimate goal. And when an artist takes it upon themselves to go the DIY route with a self-release and succeed, it actually makes it easier for a label to see the wisdom of signing them. That is usually when labels will take a chance on a band that doesn't fit nicely into a little "current trend" box.  We here at the antiMusic Network wish the artists featured here nothing but success, whether it is a total DIY affair or they ultimately use their DIY skills to land a deal. 

The three artists featured in this series all cover different areas of rock. The last time we looked at the self-titled album from Long Beach Devil boys Johnny Jones and the Suffering Halos. This time we continue our look at So Cal DIY indie bands with a look at the debut album from one of the most popular bands from Long Beach, Twelvehourmary. 


Alternative: Twelvehourmary 

Please indulge me as I start out on a personal note (and continue in that fashion). I have seen at least a thousand of bands perform live. For a good portion, it was my first exposure to the band and their music. Yet, I can count on two hands how many bands truly won me over with one live performance. Twelvehourmary is at the top of that list. In fact, they had me half way through the first verse. 

I remember it like it was just yesterday but it was three years ago. I went to the Knitting Factory in Hollywood to see one of my favorite local bands, Bird3, perform. Their publicist told me that I should get there early and check out the opening band. Since she has never pointed me in the wrong direction in the past, I took her advice and arrived at the gig early.  The house lights went down and blue lighting engulfed the stage as a descending scale keyboard lead came out across the P.A., joined by bass, drums and guitar. It was powerfully simply but beautiful. When the lead singer began the emotionally tingled vocals of the 1st verse, I was a convert. The rest of the set rocked on with heavier songs comprised of melodic hooks and power. Here was a band making emotionally charged music that made an instant connection, and yet couldn't be easily defined with a label.  I didn't know what to call it—alternative? Math-rock? All I knew was that it was really good. 

The band's frontman Brett Bixby gave me a copy of their demo after the show and during the entire 45-mile drive home, I had that first song on repeat. I was further impressed when I was able to let the lyrics sink in. This wasn't your typical rock lyrics, Brett Bixby manages to weave a story with his lyrics, bringing about visual interpretations in your mind's eye. 

In the past three years, I have had to pleasure to see Twelvehourmary dozens of times as I waited patiently for them to release this album. The wait was well worth it. The first thing that struck me when I put this CD in was how close the band captured their live sound on the album. While they had a world league producer (Rich Mouser – Weezer, Spock's Beard) behind the knobs, the band didn't need all of the usual studio tricks to bring out the full bodied sound captured on these tracks. 

"Running Time" kicks things off in style with the patented Twelve rock sound with Brett's colorful lyrics and powerful yet melodic chorus. The second song, "The Final Idiot" is a readymade radio hit—hook happy, melodic and yet unconventional, especially the lyrics and Mark Roman's drum fills which hit on the back beats during the verses bringing some real extra character to the song. But it's the "big" chorus that grabs you and guitar lead is as memorable as any vocal hook. 

"Blowdart" is another rocker that demonstrates that Twelvehourmary doesn't follow the typical musical patterns with its almost progressive instrumentation set against alternative powerchords. The bridge buildup is also a highlight. 

Next up is "Snowshaker" the song that made me a fan in the first place.  I'm a rocker at heart, but I absolutely love this song. It is so unlike anything out there, especially the phrasing and lyrics, but the musical canvas of instrumentation has an airy free-floating feel to it that makes you want to listen with headphones on with your eyes closed and escape reality by letting the song envelope you. 

The title track comes up next with Brett's fast rap like vocals, it's a great alternative rocker with some really interesting changes. The real magic comes right under the surface with the production and second guitar tracks. 

"Simultaneous" carries a cool groove and again highlights Brett's lyrical talent of putting seemingly unrelated things together.  The low-key verse to chorus transition also stands out. "Marionette" is perhaps one of the band's biggest live hits. The intro lead gives way to a compelling rhythm that never seems to fail to get live crowds dancing. 

The next song, "Face It" has replaced "Snowshaker" as my favorite Twelvehourmary song. Ballads have been given a bad name by hair bands but Twelve more than redeem the art form with this dramatically soft-spoken song. Brett does what very few vocalists manage to do; he conveys real emotion with his voice. And anyone that has been in a bad relationship and wondered why you stayed, this song will hit a chord with lyrics like "I believed in the contradictions" and especially the last lines "There's solace in the aftermath / I can't believe that I'm here and so far out past / I thought I'd last where my own mistakes won't mistake me". 

"Once in a While" shows us yet another side of Twelvehourmary with a Beatlesq pop meets alternative vibe, this is yet another easy radio hit.  "Wishlist" brings us back to the proggie alternative rock that is the keystone to Twelve's sound. Some interesting changes and an unconventional song structure make this another standout. 

"Needfiller" gives us Brett's unique rap style mixed with big choruses. Groovy instrumentation and rhythm make this one hard to define but unforgettable. "Playground" kicks off with some raw garage rock guitars but makes way for pure melodic vocals with interesting phrasing that's only topped by the chorus. Another standout track among an album of standout tracks. 

Twelve end things on a lower-key note with the slow guitar jam "Didn't," this song really highlights the group's pop sensibilities that are still uncompromising--In other words, melodic rock with integrity. 

This album does piss me off though. After listening to it yet again to write this review, my anger rises at the shortsightedness of the music industry. I turn on the radio or MTV and my anger goes up a couple more notches because most of "product" out there being pushed by the major labels can't begin to touch the quality of this album. This doesn't sound like a self-released album. In fact, the production value alone is far better than most recent major label releases, but it is the music that is the real star. Twelvehourmary may just be too good for the masses who will settle for the K-Mart of rock instead of something of substance and quality. That's really too bad because the world at large are missing out on an exceptional band. Fortunately, if you are reading this you cannot claim ignorance, so do yourself and your ears a favor, click the links for the band's homepage and samples below and order this CD to discover one of the best rock bands on the scene today.  Thank God for the Internet, and thank God for bands like Twelvehourmary that help keep this jaded critic from losing faith in rock.  Rock is alive and well. It's just flying under the mainstream radar with DIY bands like Twelvehourmary. Truth be told, it is for rare bands like Twelvehourmary that this site exists. 

Twelvehourmary 

Visit the Official website. - Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online
 
 

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