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Best New Rock/Pop/Electronic Albums/EPs of 2015

14. Steve Dalachinsky/Eighty Pound Pug: Leave the Door Open (Dog and Panda)
Downtown NYC jazz poet Steve Dalachinsky surprised us with this collaboration with guitarist/bassist Alex Lozupone's jazz-metal power trio (there's that phrase again: is it a trend?) Eighty Pound Pug, with tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito and drummer Paul Feitzinger. Dalachinsky's self-deprecating Brooklyn humor and existentialist beat musings, more usually accompanied by free jazz, prove highly compatible with this doomier sound keyed on Lozupone's electronically combined bass and guitar. Really, what better to accompany a 9/11 poem that starts, "I thought it was the end of the world/And then the end of the world happened again"? -- Steve Holtje

Downtown Music Gallery

This is an extended, 12 piece, version of Eighty Pound Pug with guests like Bruce Mack from Burnt Sugar and Borts Minorts from another dimension. Not all of the players are on every track, since there are guests sitting in here and there. For this disc, EEP have three different vocalists who sing on different tracks. By now, Eighty Pound Pug, do have their own wacky, wild & wooly & intense sound. This is some sort of space/rock with a grinding groove, alien vocals and brain-blasting horns. A number of the tracks on this 13 song disc, fade out due to time limitations which is a good thing so that things rarely outstay there welcome. Fans of Hawkwind and other more krautrock like space/rock should give this band a chance. They will take out out there to another dimension if you let them in. - BLG/DMG

Downtown Music Gallery

This disc is a compilation of unreleased live tracks from several gigs around the town. All are instrumental and the few known musicians include: David Tamura on tenor sax & keyboard, Stefan Zeniuk (from Gato Loco on W&W), Mike McGinnis on several reeds and Nononko Yoshida on alto sax (2 tracks). The liner notes don't list where or when these tracks come from but no matter. The sound is clean and warm. Most of the tracks feature a trio or quartet with Mr. Lozupone on guitar/bass, David Tamura on tenor sax &/or keyboard, Ayumi Ishito on tenor & soprano and Paul Feitzinger on drums & keys. Alex's strong, spirited and at times heavy (with fuzz & wah-wah) guitar is at the center of most of these pieces with 2 or 3 saxes or flutes erupting next to him. None of these jams go on for too long so no one solos too much before a piece fades away. Each of the half dozen saxists get their chance to stretch out and solo so there a number of fine solos throughout from David Tamura, Ayumi Ishito, Mike McGinnis, Chris Bacas and our own Nononko Yoshida, who recently move back to Japan. At 79 minutes long, there is surprisingly no filler here. -BLG/DMG

Fuetako

ギターのアレックス・ロズポーン(と読むのか?)というひとが仕切っている、おそらくは即興系の若手を集めたプロジェクトである「エイティー・パウンド・パグ」のライヴを収めた一種のオムニバスだと思う。延べ15人のプレイヤーが参加していて、曲数は全部で14曲。フェイドアウトとか、ブツッと切れる曲もある。アレックス・ロズボーンは全曲に参加しているが、ほかでは、ドラムのPAUL FEITZINGERというひとが12曲に参加している。それ以外は、だいたい2曲ずつぐらい。サックス~クラリネット系が多く、15人中8人が木管楽器奏者である(逆に金管はゼロ)。しかし、知っているプレイヤーは正直、吉田野乃子だけだが(2曲に参加)、ほかのひとも皆めちゃ上手くて、ニューヨークの若手の即興シーンの層の厚さを見せつけられる。とにかく、管体がしっかり鳴りまくっているひとが多いので聞いていて気持ちがいいし、ほとんどがピッチも良くて基礎をちゃんとおさえているうえ、フラジオ、フリークトーン、マルチフォニックス、サーキュラー、グロウル……などの奏法にも長けていて、安心感がある(そんなこと即興には関係ない、という考えもあるかもしれないが、聞き手に与える心地よさのひとつとしては重要だと思う)。でも、それは破綻がないということにもなるので、こうやってずらずらーっと並べられると、突出した個性もなかなか感じ取れないが、それはおそらく、もう少し長尺の参加曲があればそこで発揮されるもので、このアルバムはある種の名刺代わり的なものなのだろう。参加者のなかにはアユミ・イシトとかデヴィッド・タムラといった名前もあり、日系のかただろうと思うが、全然知らない。だいたいが即興セッションみたいな感じで、ワンコードでアレックスのギターがリフを弾いて、ドラムがシンプルなパターンを叩いて、そこに管楽器が乗っていき、あるいは複数の楽器が絡み……というものが多い。え? どれも一緒やんて? まあ、どの演奏もひとつのパターンみたいな感じにはなっているかもしれない。でも、そういう(同じような)状況でどれだけ自分を発揮できるかという修練の場ともいえる。いくつかの即興的なリフを吹いて、それをハモったり、みんなが合わせてきたり……というやり方も何曲か見られる。みんなテクニック的には上手いし、曲が短いこともあって飽きることはない。ジャズ的なルーツを感じさせるひともけっこういる。私は何度も繰り返し聴いて、そのたびにいろいろ発見もあった。今のニューヨークの即興シーン(の一部?)俯瞰できるアルバムだと思う。あと、裏ジャケに書かれている楽器別の参加リストだが、ときどき「あれ? これってテナーか?」という場合もあり(曲中で持ち替えてるときもあるみたい)、信用できない。このレーベル(ドック・アンド・パンダ)はほかにも面白そうなアルはほかにも面白そうなアルバムを一杯出しているみたいですよ。
I think guitar of Alex Rozupon (or read and?) People are in charge of, it's probably a project that attracted young improvised system of a kind that contains the live of "eighty-pound Pug" omnibus. Have participated in a total of 15 players, 14 songs in total number of songs is. Toka fade-out, even songs that cut to the Butsu' there. Alex Rozubon While participating in songs, in addition, people that drum of PAUL FEITZINGER are participating in the 12 songs. About it than that, by roughly two songs. Many sax-clarinet-based, eight in 15 people is a woodwind player (as opposed to brass is zero). However, I know the player is honest, but just Yoshida field 乃子 (participating in the two songs), also all well Mecha other people, be confronted by the thickness of the layer of improvisation scene of New York of the young. Anyway, It is a good feeling to have heard so many people that the tubular body is crazy sounding firm, after which most are suppressed properly the basics well also pitch, Furajio, freak tone, multi-phonics, circular, growl ...... etc. have excelled also in the playing, there is a sense of security (but might be such a thing not related to improvisation, there is also the idea that, I think that it is important as one of comfort that gives the listener). But, it also becomes the fact that there is no collapse, and are arranged Innovation Zurazuraー doing this, but not Kanjitore quite also projecting personality, it is probably, is where exerted if there is participation song of a little more long but, this album is probably a kind of business card instead ones. There are also names like Ayumi-Ishito Toka David Tamura Some of the participants, but I think it would towards the Japanese, do not know at all. Roughly is feeling like a improvisation session, playing Alex's guitar riffs in one code, drum pounding a simple pattern, there are many things that there wind is going to ride, or a plurality of musical instruments tangles ...... . Huh? None have ceased together? Well, any performance also might have become to feel like a one of the pattern. But, it can be said such place of training of how much yourself can be exhibited in a (similar) situation. Blowing some improvisational riffs, or it op Hamo, everyone is way also seen several songs that have or ...... together. It is good to everyone technique basis, will not be bored there is also that the song is short. Some fine people who feel the jazz roots. I listened again and again, there were also various discovery each time. Now of improvisation scene (part of?) Of New York think bird's-eye view can be that it is the album. After, but of participants list musical instruments that have been written on the back jacket, there is also the case that sometimes "there? This I do tenor?" (Also like some when you are re-holding during the song), can not be trusted. This label (dock-and-Panda) is like has issued a cup of interesting album in addition.

Gapplegate Guitar Blog

Guitarist-leader-composer-conceptualist Alex Lozupone and his Eighty-Pound Pug project has been the subject of a review here about a month ago. Today another quite interesting album from him and Pug, When Flowers Bloom in Baltimore (self-released). It features a rather larger band live in New York City.
As before the backbone of the sound is Alex's metallic guitar riff-motives and free spacing moments. The rhythm section rocks loosely and the large contingent of horns has space to enter in freely and avantly. Bruce Mack's vocals (and Malcolm Hoyt's "death vocals") add an important element to the mix. Bruce Mack sounds like an evolved extension of Jack Bruce's vocal ways.
We get a full set of numbers that bring out the 80-Pound Pug sound in its full complexitity. It is a successful melding of extreme metal and free jazz, I suppose you could (and should) say.
The music comes together consistently for a fully outside brashness that after a few listens I have come to appreciate. There is nothing quite like it. The question for you is will you hear these confluences of avantness with an open mind? Both hard rock and avant jazz folks will find commonalities here if they are willing to give this noisy onslaught their sympathetic attention.
I must say that I am a convert, much as the first listen puzzled me. It hangs together as something without compromise, and uniquely insistent. Ultimately it convinced me as very worthy sound. Let your expectations go out the window and you may well find yourself digging this. -- Gapplegate Review

Downtown Music Gallery

Featuring Alex Lozupone on guitar/bass, David Tamura on tenor sax & keyboard, Paul Feitzinger on drums, Chris Bacas on soprano sax and Jen Kutler on kegel synth. This disc was recorded live at the Spectrum in NYC. The Eighty Pound Pug project continues to evolve with slightly different members on each disc. This one features saxist David Tamura who has worked with Dave Burrell & Joe Chonto. The other saxist here, Chris Bacas, used to work with Buddy Rich (?!?) and recently played on a CD by Bolide with Mat Maneri & Russ Lossing. Eighty Pound Pug (EPP) are an all improvised unit, so their sound is always changing or mutating. Mr. Lozupone kicks things off with a disturbing, hypnotic riff before they move into a more krautrock like groove with synth and sax swirling together. Is this a long lost Hawkwind gig? Sounds like it at times. Lozupone does a good job of playing riffs, which set the band up to jam, saxes riding on top of the synth, guitar and drum grooves. Although this music has a loose, almost sloppy feel, there is something I like about its exuberant, crazed, jamming quality we so rarely find in most current releases. There are two different covers for this disc. One cover has an infrared woman with a bass guitar in one hand and what looks like a metal dildo in the other hand with an unhappy looking dog floating in front of her. Not so sure what that is about?!?! - BLG/DMG

Downtown Music Gallery

Featuring Elliott Levin on tenor sax, flute & poetry, David Tamura on tenor sax, Paul Feitzinger on synth & drums, Alex Lozupone on 7-string bass & guitar, John P on drums & effects plus Borts Minorts on vocal & drums (1 track). This disc was recorded live at Otto's Shrunken Head in NYC in August of 2014. Eighty-Pound Pug is bassist Alex Pupone's crazed free unit with revolving personnel and a few regular members: Tamura, Feitzinger and John P (Spreades). The only two names I know in this version are Philly sax legend Elliott Levin (New Ghost & Cecil Taylor sideman) and Dave Tamura, who is a member of another fine ongoing free ensemble with Joe Chonto. Mr. Lozupone switches between heavy guitar and electric bass as the music swerves also from free jazz/rock with some intense wailing saxes rising up in waves. Whether playing guitar or bass, Lozupone is the one whose playing is at the center giving shape to these festive freer works. Mr. Levin is also a a fine poet and spoken word performer so he gets his chance to add his sharp observations, both incisive and witty, the the proceedings. There are moments when the music seems to be moving into some Hawkwind-like space-rock but it doesn't last that long until it mutates into another section. There is a dark undertow to this music that is somehow inviting like some healthy quicksand. Both saxes are spinning through a live PA system which also gives this a non jazz-like sound, yet somehow there is something appealing about this that is not so easy to explain. The spirit keeps peeking through the demented swirl no matter what. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Downtown Music Gallery

Don't be fooled by the two cute dogs on the cover of this disc, the music is not cute in any way. Right from the intro, the music has a heavy, hard rock sound with punk-like guitar riffs and two saxes (tenor & soprano) swirling together like a tornado bearing down. Mr. Lozupone's electric guitar or bass playing is often at the center the storm here providing some swell melodic yet heavy throbbing lines while one or both saxes solo along with him. The only musician here that I know from other sessions is saxist Dave Tamura who plays with Joe Chonto called Sonic Insurgency as well as with Ron Anderson. The other saxist here, Ayumi Ishito on soprano, also sounds consistently strong throughout most of this disc. One of the things I dig about this disc is that none of the pieces, except one, are over 10 minutes so nothing goes on for too long. At times Alex plays some wah-wah guitar, giving the music a Hendrix-like sound which is another plus. This music sounds like it was recorded live since I hear some applause here & there. The overall sound is a bit over-the-top at times yet the spirit and spooky vibe (with some mysterious theremin bits) sound great nonetheless. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Downtown Music Gallery

The personnel for this version of Eighty-Pound Pug features Alex Lozupone on guitar/bass & bass loops, David Tamura on tenor sax, Paul Feitzinger on drums & keyboard, John P. on loops, effects & drums, Kevin Shea on drums & drumpad and Yuan Liu on modded SK5. The music on this disc was recorded at two different live sessions, one with John P. on drums and one with Kevin Shea (from MOPDTK & Talibam!). This music has a heavy jazz/rock jamming sort of vibe going on which changes as it mitates section to section. I like the sound of this band although the live recording quality is good but never too precise, it still fits the music/vibe. Alex's heavy riffs for guitar or el. bass remain at the center of their sound, although Tamura's sax sounds as if he is playing through devices at times at least a somewhat distorted PA. If you recognize Mr. Tamura's name it is due to his work with Joe Chonto for the SomeRealMusic label. Tamura is an intense saxist who is often featured in Eighty-Pound Pug and consistently wails like there is no tomorrow. Sometimes this music get as thick as good porridge when they turn it on full blast with those electronic effects adding even more swirling insanity to the wind-whipping hurricane force. Just when you think that it is about to spin out of control, Alex will add some riff to help pull things together. Almost too much! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Downtown Music Gallery

This live completely improvised performance from 2013 explores the realms of doom metal and free jazz. The songs meander between coherent, sloppy-tight riffs reminiscent of what Black Sabbath did on occasion, and more chaotic playing. "Featuring Alex Lozupone on guitar/bass, David Tamura on tenor sax and Paul Feitzinger on drums. Alex Lozupone runs the Dog & Panda label which has released a half dozen discs, three of which are sessions led by drummer Marc Edwards. This is the first time meeting between the three members of this trio recorded at Spectrum on Ludlow Street, just one subway stop away from DMG and one of last performance places left in Manhattan that features a variety of New & Experimental musics. I hadn't heard of Alex or Paul before this disc but Alex is a member of a couple of Marc Edwards bands. David Tamura we know from his recent work with Dave Burrell, Kidd Jordan and Sabir Mateen. Right from that opening salvo, this trio is powerful and impressive. Mr. Lozupone sounds as if he is playing some dark, metalish, heavy guitar with Mr. Tamura's sax also erupting intensely and Feitzinger strong drumming holding things together. Scary, punk/metal/free/jazz improv?!? Lozupoane does a fine job of playing powerful riffs, helping to keep the trio focused into a fire-breathing bohemeth. He uses effects likea wah-wah or distortion to fatten his sound into a more throbbing mass. Torture time? Indeed." - BLG/DMG

Gapplegate Guitar Blog

Alex Lozupone was kind enough to send me his latest albums and I've listened. What I hear intrests me very much, so naturally I am posting. Eight Pound Pug, aka the Alex Lozupone Project, is a improvisational outfit with a floating membership if I am correct. At any rate their latest, Pug Wife! (self released), which BandCamp classifies as "metal experimental improvisation jazz noise New York," which I suppose pretty much covers it, features Alex Lozupone on guitar/bass, David Tamura on keys and tenor sax (one track), Paul Feitzinger on drums, Chris Bacas on soprano sax, and Jen Kutler on "kegel synth" which is in part bodily activated, apparently.
This is a series of metal riffs set down with gravity by Alex, rocked out by Paul, and elaborated upon and against, avant style, by the other instruments.
It is fascinating music to me, though it is not exactly a guitar showcase at all points, you who read my blog looking for that. It IS guitar-centric, in that Alex's motif spinning centers it all and gives the music its "metal" sheen. And he does some improvisations here too in the band context and he takes it out in the process, so...

Beyond that is freedom and noise. And the premises are pretty clear all the time, so it gets my ear as seriously warped but seriously serious music. Does that make sense?

So maybe it is not going to grab everybody equally, but it is a true expression and a musical art, so what does it matter who will be pleased or possibly annoyed? It is either for you or it isn't! No kidding! Really, though, it caught MY ear anyway. Check it out. -- Gapplegate Review