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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Gutbucket hits you where it hurts

Published: March 16, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Gutbucket, a jazz-punk fusion quartet (“avant-squonk”) played at Chum's Thursday night. Their songs– wordless save for the occasional wails of frontman-saxophonist Ken Thomson — sound like some sort of post-Miles Davis “Blue” angry head-banger jazz. Until you get into the music, it seems like an almost-choreographed train wreck… then you realize how together they are, how intense the sound really is… and the concert becomes an awesome aural experience… even if you're stupid enough to perch directly in front of the amps. The band isn't always loud– songs like Frogger, for example, are quietly jazzy, yet seamlessly flow into loud, angry punk ballads. The band is so tight, so together, it seems like their music is woven into some aural fabric;

the guitar and sax, the sax and bass, the bass and the percussion run into one another, pitch for pitch, beat for beat.

The bassist (the aptly-named Eric Rockwin), playing on a cut-down string bass that has to be just that little bit easier to travel with, soloed with drumsticks, beating on the strings and creating an unusual bass sound, which paralleled the unusual use (in jazz) of 'musical' feedback. A lot of the time, it was easier for me to hear the jazz influences — Davis, of course, and Coltrane, but then chords reminiscent of avant-garde-punk, Sonic Youth for example, mixed with something louder… the obvious, but not quite right reference being the Sex Pistols. The band's strength is this indistinguishablity, a hard, power-driven sound on one song, a softer, technically perfect jazz fusion that is meatier in its musicality;

the drummer (Paul Chuffo) is actually a part of the melodic intensity of the band– and he goes wild with his power.

The band has been together eight years, touring the US and Europe. They are signed with Cantaloupe USA, and last fall the group recorded 'Sludge Fest';

it was released in March (Amazon, $19.98). They are friends, as guitarist Ty Citerman said on stage– three of the band members met while DJ-ing for WKCR radio in New York City, and the band used the Manhattan bar scene to perfect their sound. Now, says their Myspace biography, “Gutbucket is a free-range band … equally comfortable playing in front of 900 sweatily pogo-ing teenage skate-punks, a crowd of stoned jam band freaks, or on an anarchist-German-art collective-houseboat, but most importantly, their music fits right in.” They toured the US and Europe last summer;

what's up next isn't online, but I bet it'll be good.

By the way — Chuffo, makes a mean pumpkin-chocolate-chip cake. No. Really.