Fans and artists alike crammed into Zoey’s last month for the finals of the second annual Ones to Watch singer-songwriter competition. It was a particularly challenging call with so many talented finalists, including Dew Wats Rt’s Andrew Steele, Marqee’s Elijah Behar and Lainey Taylor, but the prize went to Ian Tepper. Fairly new to the Ventura area, Tepper says the contest has helped establish him as a working musician. “I’m building a fan base and things are looking super-positive.” T.F.W. is getting love all around. Its record Valley of the Serpents Soul made No. 8 on ranker.com’s 2011 Top Ten Records list, and No. 7 on the L.A. Weekly’s Top Ten Metal Album list. Huzzah!
Oxnard indie-pop sensation Sea Lions recently released its debut full-length on Nor Cal’s Slumberland records. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid To Ask is the culmination of many years spent honing its sparkly, young sound, nudging it into the neo-psych realm but with a fresh-scrubbed appeal. The band has been garnering quite an industry buzz and is preparing for a trip to Japan. The record is available on vinyl, CD and, drumroll . . . cassette at www.slumberlandrecords.com.
Aaron Johnson (Le Meu Le Purr, All Seeing Eyes, 8Stops7, Psycho Café) is putting the final touches on his first solo record, which will feature cameos by pretty much everyone associated with Ventura’s music scene. He plans to play a few local shows in tandem with its release next month. One title he’s tossing around is Sunday Morning Murder Songs. Eli Behar will begin laying down tracks in January for his acoustic EP at Colourbox Recording with Jeff Evans at the helm.
Reggae promoter Ezra Brooks Robison (Divine Crime) is resurrecting his reggae Thursdays but not limiting the bands to reggae alone. Beginning Jan. 5, Crave Lounge in Ventura will be home to Robison’s Thursdays which will feature bands such as Kyle Hunt & the King Gyspy, Long Beach Liberators, Rising Son and Howlin’ Woods.
With only about a week left to raise the last little bit of its $4,000 Kickstarter goal, Alexandra and the Starlight Band reached its goal. The promising R&B group, fronted by the lovely Alexandra Lee, needed the funds to cover the design and layout costs of its record as well as a limited edition, hand-numbered run of 7-inch vinyl records. The project will feature “a never before created” combination of clear vinyl containing rainbow glitter and a pull-out signed poster.
Keyboardist Owen Bucey is recovering from an injury he suffered while he was touring the U.K. with Army of Freshmen, earlier this month. Only two days into the tour — the band’s 10th journey across the pond — Bucey broke his collarbone when he slipped in a hotel shower. After a visit to the hospital, he decided to stick it out, finishing the entire tour using only one arm. Bucey will undergo surgery this weekend in Los Angeles. He plans to use the down time writing music for the Freshmen’s fifth record, which they will begin recording early next year.
Signing (sort of)
Oxnard’s Stop Breathing has been taken under the wing of punk label No Idea Records, home of Against Me!, Hot Water Music and Less Than Jake. According to singer John Crerar (who also plays drums in T.F.W.), the label doesn’t exactly write up contracts for bands, as that would conflict with its punk ethos, but No Idea, which recorded Glass & Ashes back in the day, will be taking care of the pesky details associated with recording the band’s next record. We asked the Magic Eight Ball if this alliance would produce a postive outcome and the answer was: “As I see it, yes.”
Jessi Reems-Terrell and Jared Fredeen of Champagne Sunday have been giving the full band a bit of a rest to play as an acoustic duo, and the response has been so great that they are discussing a CD project for spring. They also plan to rejoin their bandmates for a six-week tour of the Southwest in April.
In this year of reunion shows (Glass & Ashes, Missing 23rd, No Motiv, Shim Come Quick) The Thunderboys show, one of the most anticipated, has been cancelled due to “scheduling conflicts.”
NoteWorthy is a monthly column dedicated to developments in Ventura County’s music scene. If you have a tip, write to Michel or Facebook her.