Arts music review

‘I’d love to see that magic raw’

New, local musicians are playing in Cambridge soon, and you should hear 'em. Here’s why.

Free to Be
Louis Apollon
Sep. 29, 2017
Blue Light Bandits
Blue Light Bandits
Oct. 27, 2017

I’ve been trying to go to more concerts.

Unfortunately, while various “playing near you” features never fail to find events, I usually feel inclined to stay home. There are not many musicians I want to leave home for, pedestrian student that I am. Though I like plenty of artists, many of whom perform in the Boston area annually, I may not enjoy enough of their songs to want to hear them live (not to mention the fact that plenty of singers are renowned to sound better recorded anyway).

So, I utilize other methods to get close to music. I walk to school with headphones in; I study with my speakers on; I ballroom dance, sometimes. And, of course, I seize opportunities to review albums for The Tech. As can be expected, then, The Tech is how I discovered Louis Apollon and the Blue Light Bandits.

Both acts will play at Club Passim next week, a fact I was indifferent about — being a for-the-most-part concert naysayer — until I heard their music. Louis Apollon’s debut album, Free to Be, was far groovier than advertised. The Boston-based singer-songwriter has an uncanny sense of tune, picking out unpredictable, yet hummable melodies to whimsical words. (“Come with me,” sings Louis on the first track, “and we’ll cleanse our souls.”) He’s as comfortable with arrangements as he is with the acoustic guitar, sometimes expertly introducing a drum or a bass or a flute, other times sliding through a complex solo with the ease of John Mayer. Listening to his record, I found myself itching to watch Louis Apollon play. There’s some magic in the way he overlays a detailed rhythm with his smooth-as-sunrise voice and makes it seem simple, and I’d love to see that magic raw, free from studio perfection.

The Blue Light Bandits (also local — they’re from Worcester) are similarly powerful. The instrumental bits in their pieces are friendly, like city lights; the vocals, often chorus-like, always rise up at the perfect moment. The members of Blue Light Bandits are stellar lyricists;  I was pleasantly surprised at the intricacies of their tracks. Their song “Homegrown / ‘Til The Day I Die,” for example, is less about the personality of a town than the character of a person, and contains satisfyingly rhythmic observations on humanity, like the lines “Nobody wants to die / but everybody’s gotta go.”

Blue Light Bandits are skilled musicians, too, readily handling solos at breakneck speed, or changing the tempo without missing a beat. They’ve got a wonderful funk, in addition to a toe-tapping optimism. It’s very, very hard to hear their music and sit still.

If I ever felt disillusioned about concert-going, I certainly don’t anymore, not after experiencing the debut records of these local musicians. I have no doubts that Lou Apollon and Blue Light Bandits are so, so worth hearing in person, and you shouldn’t either.

Club Passim, Mar. 14, 7 p.m. See you there.