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Pianos and a melodic sense greater than the usual punk-pop thrill set Orange County's Mêlée apart from their peers. Chris Cron (vocals/guitar), Rick Sanberg (guitar), Ryan Malloy (bass), and Mike Nader (drums) formed the band in 1999 while still in their teens, and eventually signed with the Hopeless Records affiliate Sub City. While elements of punk revivalism and emo tinged the ends of Against the Tide, the quartet's debut for the label, Mêlée is much closer to the songwriting-driven modern rock sounds of a band like Rooney. The debut's crisp promise was muddled a bit on the 2004 full-length Everyday Behavior. However, even there Mêlée offered a little Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie to go with the usually youthful sound of the Sub City/Hopeless roster. The summer of 2004 was spent on the Warped Tour, and while their sound was still developing as of 2005, it was pretty clear that Mêlée had future O.C. soundtrack appearances in mind. There were even rumors of a new record deal with Warner Bros., which were then confirmed in the fall of 2005, and in between bouts of touring with acts like Copeland and the Early November, Mêlée readied their Warner debut. That album, Devils & Angels, surfaced in April 2007 and the guys supported it on spring dates alongside Amber Pacific. The Masquerade followed in 2010. ~ Johnny Loftus

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