By Simon Weedn
As Southern California’s underground rock scene, much like the rest of the state, goes through something of a renaissance with dozens upon dozens of bands, of all shades and varieties, swirling around various clubs and night spots. Finding the truly exceptional acts can be intimidating and a bit of a challenge. Luckily for the IE, one of the true talents of our thriving Southern California scene is a band whose awesome songwriting is matched only by its explosive live performances. The Lovely Bad Things will be rolling through The Glass House to shake the venue from its foundation in the near future.
For nearly five years, Orange County’s The Lovely Bad Things have been turning heads wherever it sets up its gear and plugs in. The band’s eclectic mix of garage rock, psychedelia and punk rock not only gives it one of the most distinctive sounds in the underground rock scene, but one with stunning complexity and depth. While many of the band’s peers seem content with playing lazy, laid-back party rock, The Lovely Bad Things incorporate a diverse array of style and influence into its sound, constantly pushing its sound forward, while also driving crowds into wilder frenzies than nearly any band around.
The band’s 2011 debut release New Ghost/Old Waves, which came out on Fullerton tastemaker label, Burger Records, showed off the bands strengths from the outset. With only seven songs to do it with, the band explores a wide range of style and material while never seeming lost or without focus, and never letting up on its intensity. Tunes range from the slower, more psychedelic, “I Just Want You To Go Away,” to raging, punk rock burners like “Old Ghost” and “New Waves.”
However, it wasn’t until 2013’s, The Late Great Whatever, that the band really hit its stride. “When people listened to it, we wanted it to feel like how it felt when we were writing it,” explains band member Brayden Ward. “And what it felt like when we were writing it was that it was just a little bit dark, and not brooding, black and noir, just a little darker than New Ghost/Old Waves.” It’s this darkness Ward speaks of, which gives The Late Great Whatever a heaviness and ferocity that New Ghosts/Old Waves lacked. The record goes off like a bottle rocket and never lets off the gas, delivering hit after hit. Even the record’s slower numbers keep The Late Great Whatever’s fires burning red-hot by building strong, powerful, psychedelic tension that is then unloaded by the record’s faster songs.
In addition to the strength of every tune on the album, the record has a great overall sound and production which can be attributed to a pair of Jons, Crystal Antlers’, Jonny Bell and engineer, “Sloppy” Jon B. Gilberts, who were involved with the album. “Sloppy Jon, the guy who engineered most of the record had an impeccable ear, almost to the point of it being grotesque, so we could describe any type of recording process or sound we might want and he would nail it,” Ward explains. “And Jonny, from Crystal Antlers, is amazing at making you feel comfortable in his studio and he can really draw out raw emotions in your tracks.” Just listening to The Late Great Whatever in comparison to New Ghosts/Old Waves one can easily tell that the band’s use of a professional studio and a skilled producer and engineer as opposed to self-produced garage recordings undeniably adds to the level of depth achieved on each track.
With an awesome record under its belt, The Lovely Bad Things spent the majority of 2013 on the road supporting acts like Best Coast and Diarrhea Planet. However, a severe back injury suffered by Ward sidelined the group towards the end of year due. The good news is Ward is expected to fully recover, and the quartet of Southern California shows the band is playing this year will not only mark the band’s first shows of the New Year, but the first since Ward’s surgery.
As for the rest of 2014, the band’s future looks bright. With Ward recovered and ready to go, and talks of the band spending time on writing new songs, the band’s fans have a lot to be looking forward to. The only questions seem to be where the band will take its music next and how much more awesome can it become?
The Lovely Bad Things w/ So Many Wizards, Grmln and Roses at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Fri, Jan. 24. 7pm. $10.