Los Condenados – Deep Thoughts – July 26

Pensado Deep Thoughts
Three personalities, that change within themselves, within the performance… Chris Strunk, the drummer, is the new member. Walter Wright is not here tonight. Andrea Pensado plays a witchy, screaming computer based music. Jules Vasylenko plays a bamboo sax, and bursts out alternately with burlesque and drama. Strunk plays a thudding, slow motion machine gun rock drums. The music goes into raw emotional turf, which is not unpleasant. It influences thought, the jolts and buzzes putting the brain into a music of its own. It is intellectual music, but it’s not about analyzing the structure. There is structure, but it’s very clear – simple, elegant modern architecture.

Vasylenko’s bamboo sax really sounds like bamboo. It’s amazing. It has the feel of shoots and sap. It gives the show a kind of warped romantic quality, the vision of bamboo thickets in the East overlaying the industrial drums, and Pensado’s supernatural electrical storms.

There is nuance, pause, and subtlety here. For all its frenetic noise, they know how to use small doses of space, and what to leave out, with the art of and agile child spitting out watermelon seeds.

The Epicureans, Howie Stelzer, KBD (Toledo) – Washington Street Arts Center, Somerville – July 24

Ryan McGuire

The Epicureans


The Epucureans have come back, minus a drummer. Ricardo Donoso has gone off to enjoy the fruits of the electronic circuit, leaving alto saxist Dave Gross and upright bassist Ryan McGuire to create a more inviting music. The lion sleeps tonight… The Epicureans were always a string trio, with Gross using the sax as the string substitute that Adolphe Sax meant it for, and McGuire with a deep wood tone. These two get the most out of extended technique, but they are always civilized, however savage the sound effects. The tension is invisible. Great shifts of approach occur within the switch of a second, but the whole stays organic, with changes transpiring like corn slowly maturing in a summer field. Soon, the stalks are sky high and you’re in a different place, a different altitude in a different state.

 Dave Gross Wash Arts

Their technical prowess is great. McGuire does amazing things with his bow, and Gross has his own bag of tricks, as often as not turning his axe into a kazoo or jaw harp. Yes, there is humor in this work, but it is the earthy seams in a fine silk cloth.

 Howie Stelzer

Howie Stelzer


Where many of the younger electronic artists just throw slabs of intensity at you, Howie Stelzer creates a slowly unfolding, undulating landscape. With cassette tapes that have been damaged or manipulated as his base, his “noise” has a sonorous quality. It is an ethereal atmosphere that expands, with rogue currents, and soft undertows. He has not lost anything over the past few years, when he performed out more regularly. He has matured, with more spirit, and more sway.




KBD, from Toledo, Ohio, is a trio that mixes electronic and acoustic, with drums, a table guitar, and some kind of pocket trumpet to complement the circuit boards. The sound rides an even keel, billowing and rippling with flutter and flow. It is peaceful music, with a slow burn tension that rises but never boils over. A film of a stationary, gutted building in suffused pink light is behind the musicians, and this reflects the tone of the music, it’s empty, echoing quality where nuance and innuendo are everything. With electronic bell sounds, there is a touch of the exotic, with the feel of a river into which many streams flow. You get the sense that the influence is going to change the course radically, but it’s the same river flowing, growing with storms and such, but with a strong primal sense of being, a river that has been there for ages and will keep its shape as the vegetation and life around it give into the accidents of nature.






Faun and a Pan Flute, Magicicada, Guerilla Toss, Lovely Little Girls – Great Scott – June 27


Faun and a Pan Flute (Atlanta)

High drama tension wires on brass, strings, and marimba. This has a jazzy feel, with good dynamics, and varied. Mysterious at times, with modal touches, it can leap back into symphonic band territory – just for a spell, then into the austere realm of European free, or classic fusion.

Touchstones seem many, though nothing conspicuous enough to make you think “this sounds like…” It’s kept in a good mix, with abrupt but smooth changes, and tight interplay.



Magicicada (Atlanta)

Magicicada evokes the sounds of electrical storms rather than cicadas on a summer night. The lineup is deceptive. Guitar and cello plus singer and drums, but what you hear is a wall of noise. It’s scary and creepy. Stiff growls, intermittent and jolting, swatches of sandpaper synthesizer. Is there development? It travels like a tornado, busting up whatever structure evolves in the meantime.

Rhythms start to develop as the set progresses. They are like stuff dragged by large vehicles on the street. Then they get spacey. Wind blowing through hallways of empty mansions. Ends with a bang and a whimper.


Guerilla Toss

G Toss has cleaned up their act. Their music is sparkling where it used to be muddy. Peter drives the band with heavy funk from his drums. Kassie is as happy as a schoolgirl on the playground, bouncing up and down when she sings. The rhythms shoot up like fireworks, brushing up again each other, pushing each other out of the way. Their songs have real melodies now, though they’re obstacle courses, like they used to be. They were always an eclectic band, with heavy no wave precedents, but their elements are purer now, and effusive.

The band’s art has always been to cover their L7 music school tracks with punk attitude, but there’s a oneness to them now. I would call them psych punk. They can push dreamy, hot colored chords out of their axes, but always with a jagged edge. They’re not students anymore.


Lovely Little Girls (Chicago)

Contortionist , no wave style music, with dirty, funky horns, and stop start action. Energized, inspired traffic jam. They can get operatic, or wax classic musical, like West Side Story. Different dimensions at work here, say, the rolling, hard hitting drums that back the arch, theatrical singing on one song, with structured, syncopated guitar patterns. The horns border on jazz, with charcoal harmonies, but this is effect, as they support the vocals, which are central, and are more lush and even.

TIg Bitty, NE Patriots, Take Out Order – Deep Thoughts JP – June 22


Tig Bitty

This is curvy music, stretching from seventies’ disco classic Chic’s “Le Freak”, to nineties alt hoppers Luscious Jackson. “Who’s a bad bitch?” they say, to twisty, Eastern sounding beats. Then more talk “about our pussies.” Theses are raunchy bitches, “Bang my pussy, bang my pussy, bam!” Almost too much to take, but it’s good.


NE Patriots

They’re a cross between Joy Division and Talking Heads. Eerie, metallic guitar monotones, awkward, jerky syncopation. The singer, Cory, forays into the crowd, right into me, as I’m typing. The kids wave and roll, to the shocks of rhythm. These guys can take you through the seventies punk clubs, grainy, black and white snapshots of CBGBs and The Rat. Then they go for avant noise, dusting a dissonant chord over an insistent drum beat. They’re good sound explorers, too, with fire alarm psychedelic tone spirals.


Take Out Order

Andy Brown, aka Bazooka Joe, aka Charlie Brown, aka DJ Mental, takes it easy tonight with his Skimask replica, Take Out Order. With his sideways baseball cap, he looks like a cross between Method Man and ODB. The music is wild, with titles like “Creature Double Feature”, about meeting your mate. Andy’s got a reptilian roar which is repulsive at first, but grows on you like the sticky tongue of a chameleon, with which he consumes his audience, which he has in the palm of his hand, like a superstar.

Fresh Air – Ringer Park, Allston – June 21


Free Pizza

Intellectual punk, a la Television, Richard Hell. Very good… Even shirtless.



Bibles are corporations, which are people. Dave droning on and on, why can’t he just play sax? I’m so bored. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Something about comas. Now he wants to spend money on a funeral.

Then they play, and of course, it’s sublime. Dave’s hoarse, airy nothings, Steve’s golden alto egg noodles. As Dave again waxes on death. Now it’s peaceful, echoing caves by the sea. Long held cicada note. Fluttering like a hummingbird. As the birds course through the rocks and hills of the park.



IAN is a woman led trio, with good, slow, soft heavy rhythms, punch and pop, soaring melodies. They’ve got touches of ginger and cider vinegar. Waves of warm island water. Traces of heavy metal stomp. They have the start stop motion of a sports car going through traffic. They can get grand and sonorous, anthemic and arena-like, but this is low key power pop at root.


Rob Noyes

Classic finger picking, Leo Kottke style. Takes the train through country hills. Slow locomotion motion. Then, light and happy, bouncing a child on his knee. Grand, mystical chords. Light and down home. Very good drama and tension. Balance of dark and dreamy, a country daydream.


Frank Hurricaine

Cracker Man holy cosmic vibes.


Pancho Kidd & Wes Buckley

Pancho plays by the trees in the breeze on the hill. It’s a pastoral scene, and the music is mellow and romantic. Pancho gets deep into the heads of strange characters, and you laugh and cry. You can tell his love for Neil Young. The songs roll along like peaceful meadows, but with an undertow of darkness. Songs about narcissists, cancer patients, hopeless victims of hopeless love. His rhythms, as he stands with guitar in hand, are lanky, lithe, and graceful, a tall oak thrown by wind.


Keith Fullerton Whitman

Pleasant buzz to start. Bats in the evening are speaking through stars. It’s just wild electronic whizz bang scream, starting low, getting louder. Organ tones in a church. Plastic horns blown by children at a parade. Now, prog tones squirreling in. A grand, sonorous wall. Dramatic progression of dark intervals. Noise, destruction and bomb blasts. Kettle drum beats, and shifting tides of synesthetic color. Glacial reflections on the ice. The sound tucked into the urban neighborhood, under the trees, by a baseball field.

Mia Friedman and Andy Allen – Neverland – May 19


They have the love and flow of nature. The music has tones of medieval psych folk but it is softer, with Mia singing, whom some have compared to Baez, but she is more mellifluous. Andy’s woodwinds are interspersed with cymbal strokes, with which Mia braids her guitar. You feel one with this music. When Mia bows her banjo, it is like Indian Carnatic music.

Mark Alban Lotz – Solo Flutes (2014 Loplop Records)


Mark Alban Lotz brightened my Sunday morning. With a cultured Dutch daffiness, he explores zoological and anthropological motifs on his Solo Flutes. His name checks are on target, and funky: Rahsaan, Makeba, even Coltrane (“Whole Steps”?). He’s a cool European in so many ways, but he wraps his heart round the world. He uses everything from piccolo to PVC contrabass flute, and he gets maximum out of range and dynamics, evoking village natives, or deep sea whales. So many solo records can be austere, or just plain pretty. Lotz fleshes out his work, with harmonics, and sometimes voice, for a one man trio. It’s sweet, deep, and humorous.

What Cheer Brigade – The Warehouse – May 17


Everyone’s dancing like they’re lifting caskets at a New Orleans funeral. This is a 20-piece marching band, which just bumped into me, so I grabbed the soft arm of a young woman. It was nice. The girls dance like swans, arching their necks. The last night at a The Warehouse, kids as usual slouching in the bunks against the wall. There’s a retro shade over the light in front of the stage. The band tears mad zigzags across college band music. But this is the kind of band music that would make the kids in the crowd dance on the field.

Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth, Joe Mygan, Vehement Caress – Smokey’s – May 9


Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth

Somewhere between Lady Gaga and Ron Jeremy lies Danny Cruz. He can sing national anthems or heavy metal anthems. In a band tonight with Nick Williams and Loren Burke on guitars, Frank Hurricaine and Coco Schachtl on drums, and guest John on toy accordion, he rides above the sounds like a surfer in the waves, a vulnerable humor in his voice, spry sprightly look on his bespectacled eyes. He’s Ron Jeremy, just listen to the song.

The Flaming Dragons can favor theory over practice, and the liberal ethos of outsider music, but when they catch a groove, they’re as grand as The Grateful Dead.


Joe Mygan

Solo side project from LSDV, just sound, strips and electronic panels. The sound is spacey and hypnotic. Flashes and clouds, echo of cartoon lightning. This is the television set I entered at three, in 1967. This is music of lush, romantic forests. Leafy paths that lead to inner city streets where they play the heavy funk.


Vehement Caress

Lex creates fortress of sound. His atmosphere is serene, with a touch of the ominous. There is something monk-like about it, singing prayers in the abbey. Then the noise rings in, eerie. Cosmic ice floes. Prurient caress. As the shadows of the storm subside.