Sometimes Orange County gets a bad rap, usually attacked for its perceived frequency of bros and surfer dudes. This is especially true in the music scene; not since Gwen Stefani has a prominent female erupted onto the scene, but that does not mean that there is a dearth of quality female talent. On the contrary, Orange County has a sneaky selection of female musicians that are primed and ready for stardom, and all they need is a little spotlight and a few minutes of your time. Give these ladies a little attention and prepare for some truly different and impressive performances.
Nicole Vaughn brings a semi-Southern edge to her music, as her guitar tones have more in common with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers than they do Jem and the Holograms. Her voice can hit highs untraveled by less confident women, and she delivers these lyrics with a sing-song approach akin to Ani DiFranco. In an era of The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, her short but sweet love songs succeed in providing the perfect setting for modern life and the trials and tribulations of romance. She is ready for success, as her album “Say It” was produced by a member of Delta Spirit and her songs ooze authenticity. Catch her before she’s charging $30 a ticket at sold-out venues.
While only one-fifth of The Devious Means and the only female on the roster, Rachel Anderson makes up 99% of the fire that burns within their musical engine. Her vocal duties brim with control and strength, two key factors in standing out amongst a group of hard-hitting male musicians, but it’s the power achieved during the quiet moments that really put her in the spotlight. She provides all of the keyboard work for the band, as well, utilizing their rock dynamic for interesting synth moments. The true greatness lies in her ability to harmonize with singer Christopher Faris, an effect that transforms the band into something truly fantastic.
Gianna Gianna is one third of the all-sibling trio known as Blok. Their high-fashion multi-concept band has made waves among some of the larger hip-hop acts of the past few years, including Yelawolf, Major Lazer, and fellow avant-garde female Peaches. Their mish-mash of Die Anterwood oddity and unconventional approach to making music makes them eye-catching, and Gianna grabs the spotlight by providing the estrogen injection in an otherwise testosterone universe. No one can accuse her of being a rip-off, and in an era of copycat songstresses, that is refreshing.
Currently going by the moniker Moxi, Anna Nelson is providing a sultry sound that will drive indie kids wild. Influenced by Damien Rice and Kimbra, Her songs have a range of emotion, often driving home some personal and poignant experiences, with life lesson that never tread into “preachy” territory. Her Southern California roots take hold in her ethereal pop songs, ones whose hooks will stick deep into your psyche. Not looking to push a ton of boundaries her highly approachable artwork will change any preconceived notions one would have about a young solo songstress.
Coming from the intersection where folk and pop pull over and help school children cross the street, Doll Knight gives the band The Ultimate Bearhug their feminine flair. Her tempered voice fits snugly in the modern day empowered female role that women like Lily Allen have made possible. The music The Ultimate Bearhug puts out is inspiring for those living in Orange County and need some organic and raw emotion in their music. Listen to Knight if those pop princesses are hard to stomach and you want a woman with some muscle in her voice.
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Jesse Seilhan is a writer, editor and photographer from the California Bay Area. After moving to Long Beach, Jesse continues his passion for writing and music by covering concerts, interviewing top artists, and giving a dose of wisdom in a crazy, mixed-up musical world. His work can be found at Examiner.com.