Sylvia Juncosa
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Sylvia Juncosa


Band Alternative Rock


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"Music Connection - Live Review"

Lock Joni Mitchell in a closet for a year with nothing but Black Flag to listen to, and chances are that Sylvia Juncosa would emerge. This music walks a tightrope between punk and metal, then adds a hint of Sixties sensitivity to make sure that no one gets hurt. The former SWA guitarist entertained the enthusiastic AntiClub crowd with selections from her SST release Nature ...
...The focus of the set was on Juncosa's guitar. Her decidedly unslick style nevertheless showed a high level of precision and versatility, as she handled the most difficult chords and tempo changes with ease ... Often it seemed as if two Sylvia Juncosas were sharing the stage. Between songs you saw a shy, demure girl who murmured polite thanks to the audience ... but once the music started, Juncosa appeared - a mean axe bitch with all the aggressiveness of Joan Jett or early Chrissie Hynde, leaping the full length of the stage and delivering spirited karate kicks as punctuation for each riff. It also was refreshing to see a band play without a set list, which added still more spontaneity to an already freewheeling show.
... There's always a thrill in finding a good go-to-hell guitar player who doesn't take himself - or herself - so seriously that the audience stops having fun.

-- Doug Lathrop


See more Sylvia Juncosa press clips at:
- Doug Lathrop

"Melody Maker - Album Review"

Sylvia Juncosa "Is" (Glitterhouse)

I'm stunned. I've just been listening to a record that is murderously intense, yet which leaves behind a feeling of intimacy and warmth. It features sounds harsh and jarring enough to make a hardened hardcore fan wince, yet at its heart is a touching tenderness. In many ways it's old-fashioned - a stripped, bare guitar/bass/drums sound, with little evidence of studio enhancement - yet it sounds as fresh as next week.

It's all made possible by the sheer raw fericoty of Juncosa's performance. She switches instantly from little-girl vulnerability to nerve-shredding banshee howling., while her guitar can be a cool breeze or (more often) a dazzling, burning blur. The names of Hendrix and Patti Smith frequently get dropped in the vicinity of the woman, and it's hard not to see why - for this is shockingly <i>abandoned</i> music. Maybe that explains why Juncosa is more popular in the rest of Europe than here.

The album's full of contrasting extremes, the speedy roar of "Surfing On Society", the touching gentleness of "The Star", the howing psychedelic psychosis of "Hospitalismus". (The way Sylvia spits out the word "normal" is unforgettable.) The pleasures in "is" are intense, but it contains echoes of a pain so real you have to feel it. Awesome.


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at: - Dave Jennings

"Los Angeles Times - Article"

"Juncosa: Born to Be Solo"

After having been through a string of different bands over the past couple years, Sylvia Juncosa has finally realized something about herself: she was meant to be solo.

"That way it can never break up," said Juncosa, laughing at a resume that includes ill-fated stints playing keyboards with the Leaving Trains and Clay Allison and guitar with SWA, as well as leading several versions of her own power trio To Damascus.

"I think I kind of wore through the bands, used them up ... I always tried to have a band to make it seem more credible, but it's actually been me all along that made my music credible."

Now the musician widely regarded as the top female guitarist in town is on her own, with an album, "Nature", set for May release on SST. She's joined on the album by drummer Dave Childs (ex-Lawndale) and bassist Tom Shannon (of the band Death & Taxes), who will also be with her when she plays the Anticlub on April 15.

But Juncosa insisted that the lineup is by no means permanent.

"The idea is to have the best players for each project," she said. "I want to play with Mike Watt and George Hurley [of Firehose]. They don't know about it yet ..."


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at:
- Steve Hochman

"Los Angeles Times - Live Review"

"Juncosa Slams Through Neo-Proto Metal"

Call it post-post-post-punk, call it the "Seattle sound," call it neo-proto-heavy-metal, it's basically hordes of guys roaming the country in Tradesman vans, flipping their long hair on beer-soaked stages and loudly deconstructing '70s stadium-rock cliches for the independent-record crown. It's the nexus between Motley Crue (who <i>re</i>construct '70s cliches) and R.E.M.

The local neo-proto-heavy-metallist most likely to succeed is ex-SWA guitarist Sylvia Juncosa, whose solo album on SST last year rocked as hard as anything from Soundgarden or the Fluid, and whose power trio's appearance at the Anticlub on Friday was just another awesome gig from the Jeff Beck of the underground.

She screwed up her face, flipped her long hair and slammed through intricate multi-part metal riffs that twisted about, constantly revealing new facets of themselves, tough and Hendrix-dissonant. Her solos, mostly of the noisy, wandering-key genre, were intense and speed-metal short. And her soft, little-girl voice somehow managed to cut through the splendid racket.

- Jonathan Gold


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at: - Jonathan Gold

"BAM Magazine - Live Review"

Sylvia played her hometown gig at Raji's ... although she didn't go on till last, lots of folks hung in there to welcome her back. She was in fine form, stepping up to the mike with nothing but a big teal acoustic guitar and her unique style ... If you know her recorded work, you may be wondering how that often metal-flecked, crunchy stuff translated to simple acoustic riffing. Actually, it went quite well, thank you. Even the instrumental "Alhambra Monrovia" - on her "One Thing" album, a power house of fluttering metallic waves - was successfully transformed, a bit reminiscent of that manic acoustic-guitar intro to the Who's "Pinball Wizard." Her trademark obsessive picking goes well with songs that have a kind of guerrilla evocativeness: The lyrics gradually rise to grab you with unexpected force and poignancy. Sylvia's voice is not operatically beautiful but it is still compelling in its soulfulness and honesty.

The crowd of old fans and friends called out titles ...


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at: - Natalie Nichols

"SPIN Magazine - Album Review"

... Juncosa's guitar style has become gigantic and numbing.

On the awesome second side of the album the band's trio dynamics may harken back to Cream a bit, but there's little actual precedent for her guitar-whizzing. Loud, not taggable as punk, metal, or psych, it rocks its way into many oblique states of being.

Meanwhile, Sylvia alternately jams her voice into any spot not filled with guit or wails counterpoint to her screaming strings. Listen to "(Lost in) Love Hell" and tell me who it sounds like. I wanna know.

** this appeared in SPIN with a band portrait photo - see full-size scan at: - Byron Coley

"CMJ - Album Review"

Sylvia Juncosa "One Thing" Fundamental Records

One of the growing legion of SST refugees, Sylvia Juncosa has proved to be an exceptionally talented guitarist and a good songwriter. "One Thing" is easily her best work since her days with To Damascus (maybe ever), switching lanes between twangy indie-rock and fuzz metal with nearly the ease of a Dinosaur Jr. though her style is much more fluid and open-ended. While her monotonal, wavering vocals don't hold up for the length of a side, she has the ability to glide from genre to genre, using her guitar to sweep categorical distinctions asunder. It's way past time for the world woke up to her talents.


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at: - CMJ

"Goldmine - Album Review"

To Damascus "Come to Your Senses" (Restless Records)

If the description psychedelicized metal conjures up ugly memories of late '60s/early '70s psych on the Mainstream label, rest assured To Damascus are far superior to that crud. This isn't pretty or predictable music, but it is always interesting. Sylvia Juncosa's guitar playing packs a wicked punch, demanding attention even when she occasionally relies on stock phrases. Her vocals, like her tunes, vary between disturbing and soothing, creating an uncomfortable aura that will, no doubt, cause To Damascus some important airplay. The rhythm section of bassist Tyran von Pagenhardt and drummer David Winogrond provide plenty of power and easily follow Juncosa's mood changes. Enjoying this will require some work on the listener's part, but, hopefully, enough people will favorably respond to this that To Damascus will be able ton continue to explore their vision of rock.


See Sylvia Juncosa press clips at: - Charles P. Lamey

"Like a Volcano - Live Review"

LIKE A VOLCANO - Onstage the Los Angeles guitarist Sylvia Juncosa spews out masses of molten lava

(translated from German)

Sylvia Juncosa has had a lot of escapades in her mere 24 years of life. The self-aware Californian has to withstand
a tide of prejudices and comments from this "Man's World". For many of her contemporaries
it's still a thorn in the eye when a woman seizes the initiative in certain areas. For example, when a woman picks up
a guitar and doesn't play childish Girly-Pop.

Sylvia Juncosa offers a particular target for her narrow-minded critics because she, unlike most others of her gender,
not only plays in a band but takes the lead ahead of men. Some rock writers even called her a "he-man", an "Amazon",
and in the worst case even "hermaphrodite" (!). Nevertheless she doesn't seem to shrink from these attacks, instead
she goes on the offensive herself. With beautiful regularity she has been releasing vinyl epics worthy of hearing
and refreshingly unrecycled, that present her as a multi-faceted guitarist and at the same time help
manifest her reputation as a "walking social statement."

Before her first LP, on her own label, could show its proof of Juncosa's capabilities, various West Coast bands had
already availed themselves of her services as a session musician (at a tender young age, it must be noticed). But this
wouldn't satisfy her in the long run, because she felt limited creatively. So she started the band To Damascus, which was
actually, when it comes down to it, a false label. For that trio, noted for it's many line-up changes, was in truth
no more and no less than the Sylvia Juncosa Band, in that there wasn't much room for input from others.
The recently released solo album "Nature" on SST continues on the path that was cleared by To Damascus. With the help of
new bandmates, the record opens up another, more improvisational side of the guitarist, marked by changes from
dreamy, romantic passages to aggressive metal outbursts. Seen musically it stands out from the many
other pop Muppets that come from the same area and yearn for money to rain down on them. With the last example of this
type, the Bangles, Sylvia Juncosa also was not impressed. "I don't worry about my hair, and don't use make-up because I sweat
too much onstage. I wouldn't be able to carry my amp wearing high heels. I really just want to play well, I don't worry
about image."

Live, much more than on her recordings, Sylvia Juncosa has the mentality of an erupting volcano that is spewing molten
lava out onto the audience. She is one of the last true wild ones of rock music, who can't live without her favorite
drug: "The music was always there for me when I felt abandoned by everyone else. It helped me through hard times and
depression, and I hope that my songs could do the same for anyone else who has ever felt those feelings."

-- Thomas Weiland


More Sylvia Juncosa Press: - Tip Magazine (Germany)


"Another Place, Another Time" / "On a Pier" by To Damascus - single
Ringent Records

"Succumb" by To Damascus - full-length LP
Ringent Records

"Come to Your Senses" by To Damascus - full-length LP
Restless Records

"Nature" by Sylvia Juncosa - full-length LP
SST Records

"One Thing" by Sylvia Juncosa - full-length LP
Fundamental Records (USA)
Play It Again, Sam (Europe)

"Succumb" To Damascus - European re-release on CD
Play It Again, Sam

"Is" by Sylvia Juncosa
- full-length LP
Glitterhouse Records

"Live in Rome" by Sylvia Juncosa -
live, solo acoustic 6-song mini-LP
Helter Skelter Records, Italy



"... There's never really been a guitarist quite like her, not only in Hollywood, but anywhere." - L.A. Weekly

Sylvia Juncosa is a unique figure, a wild guitar bandit queen with serious skills, a tender singer with thoughtful lyrics, a restless soul who travelled the world. With a brash persona and an innovative musical style that bounds exuberantly between alternative rock, hard rock, psychedelic and '60s, Sylvia has earned the moniker "the female Jimi Hendrix".

She began her career as keyboardist. In the early 1980s she was an original member of the Leaving Trains, then toured the US with Clay Allison (with David Roback and Dream Syndicate's Kendra Smith, that band was a pre-cursor to Opal). Her true path was as a frontperson and songwriter however, so she soon switched to guitar and formed her own band, To Damascus. This trippy trio became an L.A. cult favorite, released two critically-acclaimed albums and built Sylvia's reputation as "LA's top female guitarist".

"... She can make her guitar sing, speak, laugh, cry, and beg for mercy." - Music Connection

During this time she also joined SWA, a punk metal band featuring former Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski. She performed on their album "XCIII" (SST Records) and in many raucous, thundering live shows.

In 1988 Sylvia went solo, retaining the power trio format of To Damascus but gaining the ability to "get the best players for each project" as she put it. Her first solo album "Nature" (SST Records), with its fearless anthem "Lick My Pussy, Eddie Van Halen", cemented her reputation as a bold personality and gained considerable attention in Europe. Sylvia had an affinity for Europe, and after a second album "One Thing" (Fundamental Records) and a US tour opening for Soundgarden, she bought a one-way ticket to Germany.

"The thing about Sylvia Juncosa - the woman can play guitar. And she has a style all her own." - L.A. Reader

Giving herself over completely to the traveling musician life, Sylvia toured, recorded another album "Is" (Glitterhouse), and wandered the world as far as India before returning to the US in 1995. There she was swallowed in a dark mystery and disappeared until the dawn of 2009, when she came blasting onto the scene again with a band as blazing hot as ever.

"Hiatus? What hiatus? ... Sylvia was melodic, and thunderous, and furious, and tender, and manic, and sweet ..." - live review

Damn straight. Sylvia is back in action.

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