OC Music Awards 2013: Lowly Spects Are Not “The Hardest” Band “To Love”

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Celebrating its 12th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicked off on January 8th with eight weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band and a performance slot at the 2013 OC Music Awards, March 9th at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

Lowly Spects have had a whirlwind few months. Between putting out their first album, going on tour, and competing in the upcoming OC Music Awards, these guys have been busy to say the least. The frenetic pace this young band has been going at is a stark contrast to the music on their first album “The Hardest Man To Love.” The album is full of poignant gems that got stuck in our heads within the first listen. We wouldn’t have it any other way. The poignant lyrics and dynamic arrangements of banjo, guitar, percussion, and harmonies make for an impressive first release. We spoke with the band about their new album, touring, and the upcoming OC Music Awards.

First: the album. The deliberate, calculated arrangements are a clean bed to lay such touching (and at times heartbreaking) lyrics. Frontman Ethan Hulse discusses the writing process: “Melodys feel like they already exist somewhere inside you. They can be sparked by anything, but they always seem to guide the songs the most. Together we work and change and rearrange for hours until there’s a piece of all of us in it. [...] One of the things that I feel we do well is serving the song itself instead of filling it with a bunch of ‘cool’ parts”. Hulse sums up the concise nature of the band’s writing and arranging process: “What’s there is what we feel was needed, nothing more, nothing less”.

This album might prompt one to draw comparisons to groups like Wilco and Frightened Rabbit. One would be partially correct. In reality, the band has an extremely eclectic catalog of musical influences: “More often than not it’s been on the folk, alt country, or americana side of things. Band’s that have really influenced us are Wilco, Ryan Adams, Kathleen Edwards, A.A. Bondy, Delta Spirit, Travis, Gregory Allen Isakov, The Innocence Mission, Sufjan Stevens, to name a few” says Hulse. The Ryan Adams influence came to fruition on tour, Hulse reminisces: ” We had so many great moments to remember, but some of the best were end of the night all three bands joining together in the middle of the audience and playing Two by Ryan Adams with everyone. (Watch it here) It seems like when you do a tour with people you really begin to love them and their songs differently. We have such a strong affection towards that tour and all those amazing people”. Impromptu Ryan Adams jam sessions brought The Lowly Spects closer to their tour-mates and sparked something inside the band “Mike Edel and Tyson Motsenbocker are great friends of ours, and it was just such a beautiful thing to be on the road with them. Feels like we learned a lot about ourselves and about the band and what we could be. It certainly got us thinking differently about this next year and where we want to take this thing”. We’re excited where “this thing” might go as well.

It’s no secret that the OC Music Awards competitors don’t actually feel competitive (or at least that’s what they keep telling us):
“We’re not nervous about the OCMAs. I think that it ended up being such a fun thing last year that we’re just looking forward to the camaraderie again. On the night we’re playing we’re really looking forward to Moonsville Collective, they rule and bring something different to OC, and of course on the other showcase nights we’re great friends with Devious Means, Robert Jon & The Wreck, Midnight Hour, Jeremiah Red to name a few. It doesn’t at all feel competitive, just a really great time. It brings people together.” In a world full of music competitions with singers and bands pitted against one another for sport, it’s refreshing to see such a supportive group of musicians. People say a lot of things about Orange County, but we’ll challenge anyone that doesn’t see the sheer amount of talent and supportiveness coming out of the area.

–Robyn Luttrell, KROQ Los Angeles


You can listen to Lowly Spects’ Hardest Man To Love on their website

Learn more at Lowly Spects’ Facebook.


The 2013 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 8th-February 26th with stops at:

Jan 29 – Constellation Room

Feb 5 – Tiki Bar

Feb 12 – Founders Hall

Feb 19 – Yost Theater

Feb 26 – House of Blues-Anaheim

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LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM

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