musicazzotto nell’orecchio: marzo

(italian translation at the bottom of the page)

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Finally, here is a quintet of pretty good 2017 album releases.

Let’s start with Gregg Turner, ex-leader of the seminal punk-rock band Angry Samoans, author of a crooked lo-fi sound vaguely recallling paisley underground (does anyone remember “Green on Red”?). With his previous album “Play the Hits” (2012) he already succeeded in being panned by every music reviewer, despite some excellent songs. To better understand the kind of person he is – bear in mind he also is a professor of mathematics at the Liberal Arts University of New Mexico! – I suggest watching the promo video of “Play the Hits”. It is just five minutes in length, but if you are in a hurry, enjoy at least (1) the face of the pharmacist listening to the marvelous “The Pharmacist from Wallgreens” from minute 1:03 to 1:30; and (2) the *catyote* in heat (half cat and half coyote) singing “I dreamed I met Lou Reed” from minute 4:43 to 5:11.

Great charisma, isn’t it?
Well, he’s back on the rocks with “Chartbusterzs!”, his second essential album, where you can find candidly irreverent lyrics, musical divertissement (the roughly Morricone western “Nogales”, above all), but also good songs (“Kremlin dogs”, “Frank Kafka,” “Look In The Mirror “) and absolute masterpieces (especially “A Request For Closeness”, then “Tucson Girls”, “They Took You Away” and “Hide ‘N Seek”). (4,5 stars out of 5)

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Let’s proceed to the second pick. It would be an unforgivable sin if you missed the amazing debut album of Stef Chura, “Messes”. They come from Detroit and their indie rock / oblique pop surprised and intrigued me a lot, mainly due to the way the singer plays so charmingly with her own voice (sometimes melodic, sometimes vibrated and sometimes slurred into a sing-song). Just to get an idea of the whole sound, here is video clip of the single taken from the album.

If you prefer more rarefied atmospheres, we also have the video clip of the song “Thin”

Overall, strong personality in terms of songwriting and of lyrics, going from poetic existentialism to minimalist pragmatism. The core of the album is the triad of songs “Faded Heart”, “Gold Spotted” and “Time to Go”, sharing absolute compositional excellence, followed by the equally beautiful but less catchy “Messes” and “On and Off For You”. (4,5 stars out of 5)

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The third pick is the album “In Between” by the Feelies, a well-experienced band from New Jersey. Probably they will not be remembered as an incredibly innovative band, but if you want to drift away in a haze, you need to listen to this album and savor their blend of mild and intangible psychedelic pop. In fact, the elegant and dusky melodies of “In Between” seem to be the appropriate soundtrack for the photograph on the cover of the album, and in the fog you may sometimes fantasize about hearing echoes of REM’s “Murmur”.

The best song of the album is certainly the title track “In Between”, with his catchy chorus. The song is placed as curly braces at the beginning and at the end of the album where an incredible reprise of more than nine minutes takes shape: a sound-wall full of guitar feedbacks and digressions that can stand alongside psychedelic rock icons like Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. Worthy of note are also the good songs “Stay The Course”, “Make it Clear” and “Been Replaced”. (4 stars out of 5)

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Turning to a more roughly punk band, “Taking Chances” by Black Water County is an exciting album of folk punk, wide ranging from violins to Celtic ocarinas. Everything feels so skillfully blended that all sounds up perfectly natural even when unusual instruments join “the festivities”.
Here’s the calling card of the British band.

Plenty of passion and dynamism, supported by both male and female voice singers, lead us to a musical dimension where The Men They Couldn’t Hang are played by Bad Religion (or vice versa) and excellent songs make you move your feet to the rhythm of the beat, as for example in “Rise and Fall” and “One More Beer Will not Hurt”. Amongst the tracks you can also find some ballads (“Memories from Another Life”) and ska upbeat (“Rambling Johnny”). (4 stars out of 5)

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Finally, another belligerent group, Mobina Galore, a duo of Winnipeg, Canada, with their latest effort “Feeling Disconnected”. Their sound runs from hard rock to hardcore punk, urged by the visceral and mesmerizing vocal performances of the two singers, who very often play the card of a catchy counterpoint between shouted main voice and melodic backing vocals.

Worthy of note they direct lyrics, which openly speak of pain, despair, death and loneliness, to communicate the discomfort of the psychosis of the new millennium.

With a good promotion, I believe they could also climb the sales charts, but this rarely happens when you come from a “province” of musical empire. (4 stars out of 5)

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(versione italiana)

Finalmente, ecco una bella cinquina di buone uscite targate 2017.

Partiamo da Gregg Turner, ex Angry Samoans, un musicista che col suo lo-fi sgangherato vagamente paisley underground (a tratti vengono in mente i Green on Red) già nel 2012 con l’album “Play the Hits” era riuscito a farsi stroncare quasi da tutti nonostante qualche ottima canzone. Tanto per capire il tipo, che peraltro è professore di matematica alla Liberal Art University del New Mexico, ripropongo questo promo di poco più di cinque minuti dell’album “Play the Hits”. In caso andiate di fretta, gustatevi almeno la faccia del farmacista dal minuto 1:03 al minuto 1:30 nello spezzone della splendida “The Pharmacist from Wallgreens” e la versione *cojatto in calore* (metà cojote e metà gatto) di “I dreamed I met Lou Reed” da 4:43 a 5:11.

Personaggione, eh?
Eccolo dunque tornare alla carica con “Chartbusterzs!” un altro album imperdibile, con tanto di testi candidamente dissacranti, qualche divertissement musicale (il western pseduo-morriconiano di Nogales, su tutti), ma anche buone canzoni (“Kremlin dogs”, “Frank Kafka”, “Look In The Mirror”) e assoluti capolavori (soprattutto “A Request For Closeness”, poi “Tucson Girls”, “They Took You Away” e “Hide ‘N Seek”). (4,5 stelle su 5)

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A ruota, il notevolissimo “Messes”, opera prima della band di Stef Chura, proveniente da Detroit, che mi ha sorpreso con un indie rock/pop obliquo, dove la cantante gioca in modo affascinante con la propria voce, a tratti melodica, a tratti vibrata e a tratti strascicata a cantilena per disegnare trame originali e pregnanti. Tanto per farvi un’idea, ecco il singolo tratto dall’album con annesso video “intelligente”.

Più rarefatte le atmosfere nell’altro video che accompagna il brano “Thin”

Nel complesso, personalità da vendere sia in termini di scrittura musicale che in termini di testi, a cavallo tra esistenzialismo poetico e pragmatismo minimalista. Cuore dell’album il terzetto “Faded Heart”, “Spotted Gold” e “Time to Go”, davvero un tris di assoluta eccellenza compositiva, cui seguono le altrettanto belle, ma meno immediate “Messes” e “On and Off For You”. (4,5 stelle su 5)

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Un sound forse meno originale, ma non per questo meno godibile, quello dei Feelies, band di veterani del New Jersey. All’interno di “In between”, sesto album della band, prende corpo un delicato pop psichedelico a tratti impalpabile, ma sempre capace di indovinare melodie eleganti che a tratti ricordano i REM più “sognanti” degli esordi.

Punto di forza dell’album la title track “In Between”, gradevolmente orecchiabile, che apre le danze e torna in chiusa virando in un’incredibile reprise in versione rock psichedelico di oltre nove minuti, carica di divagazioni in feedback. Degne di nota anche “Stay The Course”, “Make it Clear” e “Been Replaced”. (4 stelle su 5)

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Passando a sonorità più rudividamente punkeggianti, gli inglesi Black Water County con “Taking Chances” ci regalano un ottimo disco di folk punk, con tanto di violini e sonorità celtiche. Il tutto risulta così abilmente amalgamato da far sembrare normali e corali anche gli strumenti meno usuali.
Ecco qui il loro biglietto da visita.

Niente male davvero, voce maschile e femminile, pezzi tirati (tipo i Men They Coudn’t Hang suonati dai Bad Religion) tra cui spiccano “Rise and Fall” e “One More Beer Won’t Hurt”, qualche ballad (“Memories from Another Life”) e una minima divagazione ska (“Rambling Johnny”). (4 stelle su 5)

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Da ultimo, un altro gruppo battagliero, i Mobina Galore, un duo di Winnipeg, Canada, con la loro ultima fatica “Feeling Disconnected”. Un sound che oscilla tra hard-rock e accelerazioni harcore punk guidato da ottime performance vocali spesso giocate sul contrappunto tra voce principale urlata e seconda voce orecchiabile/melodica.

Testi diretti, che parlano apertamente di dolore, disperazione, morte e solitudine, che comunicano il disagio e le psicosi delle nuove generazioni con intensità verace e buona personalità.

Insomma tutti ingredienti che potrebbero contribuire a un discreto successo di pubblico, non fosse che vengono da una provincia dell’impero. (4 stelle su 5)

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