Each year, the Boston music scene percolates with bands striving to reach the next level of creativity and recognition. Some artists break out of the gate. Others take a few years to hit their stride, dropping records and live performances that can’t be ignored. Here are 10 local acts making those waves.
Matt Lorenz knows how to manipulate junk to worthy musical ends.
Even as a student of experimental composition at Hampshire College in the early ’00s, Lorenz delved into adaptive instrument design. He once assembled pulleys and bicycle brake cables that allowed a drummer whose leg was amputated above the knee to play a bass drum.
“That did inform this future that I’m in now,” says Lorenz, who lives in the woods near Amherst. “I am in that same world of creating devices to make sounds.”
As one-man band the Suitcase Junket, he augments a dumpster-found guitar with rhythms and accents from his mostly metallic menagerie of percussion. That includes a gas can, a pot, a circular saw blade and a box of bones and silverware, plus a hi-hat and a suitcase kick drum. They’re all controlled by pedals that he taps with his heels and toes. Lorenz also whistles split tones through throat singing and just added a small, primitive keyboard, feeding everything through dual mics and amps to flip between clean and distorted sounds.
“Take something, ‘throw it across the room’ and see what it does,” the Vermont native says of his approach. “That’s true of the objects and the songs as well.”
Those songs range from the arty grunge of “The Next Act” and punk-blues stomp of “Evangeline” to the fingerpicked “Busted Gut” and the uplifting “Mountain of Mind,” its support for people in transition sealed by a catchy wordless chorus. They appear on Pile Driver, his fourth album and April debut on Signature Sounds, the same label that launched Lake Street Dive.
But it’s on stage that the Suitcase Junket truly shines, aided by the well-traveled Lorenz’s skills as a troubadour, including his witty rapport with audiences. He’s grown locally from tiny stages like Atwood’s Tavern to headlining the Sinclair.
One fan in Wisconsin even followed a post-show chat by leaving a raccoon penis bone under his windshield to grace his box of bones. “It took me a few days to open the envelope,” Lorenz says of the odd gift. “I was pretty nervous about it.”