Great Music on Fourth Street

Posted on Sunday 3 February 2008

By Greggory Moore

Two of my favorite Long Beach bands played within days and feet of each other last week: on Tuesday The Year Zero played at {open}, then on Saturday oto played at Portfolio.

As far as I know, The Year Zero have played as everything from a duo to a quintet; and Tuesday was the first time I have seen them as the latter with two guitars and no keyboards. I must say, while I enjoy the keyboards on their album, Oceania, I Will Return, it was very nice hearing the two-guitar configuration, as the effect-heavy buzz of the lead lines was a nice layer to the guitar/bass/drums foundation of the band’s Pixies-gone-gentle songs. It takes literally no imagination to picture (aurally, I suppose) The Year Zero on a station like KROQ, so what you get when they play somewhere like {open} is a radio-ready quasi-pop alternative band at a venue whose intimacy doesn’t reflect the quality—or potential mass appeal—of the music. And the sound mix was right on. Check the band out at and the venue at

It seems that everyone who hears oto remembers them. Their airy, mostly-instrumental musical interludes are both original and accessible enough that it will be sad and shocking if they never get picked up nationally and even internationally. (Think a stripped-down, less grand-sounding, more syncopated Sigur Ros with a Far Eastern twang.) They’re still quite early in their recording career (to date they have some EPs but no full-length), but their sets never contain filler—and if anything sometimes seem too short. (I don’t think they did 20 minutes the first time I saw them—and it wasn’t like there were other bands on the bill!) Saturday was just about right, although my one complaint is that they were a bit too loud (for the back room, anyway; in the front room it was fine). But this is the only time I’ve had this complaint about them—so don’t feel compelled to bring earplugs when you see them live . . . which you can do by following their progress through this world at (where you can also get free samples and downloads).

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