The Suitcase Junket
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“With a guitar from an oil can and a percussion section hidden inside a piece of battered luggage… he performed his wonderfully passionate roots music, belted forth from the junk he’d stitched together. All by himself, he sounded like a full hobo band playing on a train racing rhythmically onward.” — Preview Massachusetts Magazine
The Suitcase Junket is Matt Lorenz: artist, tinkerer, swamp yankee, one-man band. His is the road-worn voice rising over the grind of a tube-amped dumpster guitar, and the wild double pitches of throat singing. From Lorenz’ penchant for thrift and ingenuity comes this full-length Signature Sounds debut of original rock anthems, mountain ballads, blues manifestos and dance-hall festivity. It is magnificent, rousing, image-driven songwriting, layed out on instruments built of broken bottles, thrift store forks, dried bones, gas cans, shoes, saw blades, a toy keyboard, salvaged instruments, and an overhead compartment’s worth of luggage.
Matt Lorenz [The Suitcase Junket] was raised in Cavendish, Vermont, the son of schoolteachers. He learned to sing by copying his sister Kate; the siblings are two-thirds of the touring trio Rusty Belle. Lorenz graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2004, having taught himself to throat-sing, inspired by a South Indian cooking class. On moving day, he pulled a guitar, filled with mold and worse for wear, from a dorm dumpster. He fixed it up and started pulling songs out of it. That was the beginning.
The latest album from The Suitcase Junket, Mean Dog, Trampoline is populated by characters in various states of reverie: leaning on jukeboxes, loitering on dance floors, lying on the bottoms of empty swimming pools in the sun. Despite being deeply attuned to the chaos of the world, singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz imbues those moments with joyful wonder, an endless infatuation with life’s most subtle mysteries. And as its songs alight on everything from Joan Jett to moonshine to runaway kites, Mean Dog, Trampoline makes an undeniable case for infinite curiosity as a potent antidote to jadedness and despair.
With its name nodding to Lorenz’s longtime love of collecting old suitcases (including an antique that he’s refurbished into a bass drum) and to a secondary definition of junket (i.e., “a pleasure excursion”), The Suitcase Junket reveals all the warmth and wildness to be found within such limitation. Not only proof of his ingenuity as a songmaker, that improbable richness is ineffably bound to Lorenz’s purposeful fascination—an element he alludes to in discussing one of his most beloved tracks on Mean Dog, Trampoline, the gloriously clattering “Stay Too Long.” “I’m the kind of person who wants to stay around till the very end of whatever’s happening,” Lorenz says of the song’s inspiration. “Whether it’s a party or something else, I always want to know how it ends. Even if it’s probably gonna be a total disaster, I want to be there to see it all.”
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