BigDix: Joanna & the Devil

Joanna & the Devil from Italian rockers BigDix is an album which despite its inconsistency still offers a pleasing party for the ear. The band with a name it is impossible to ignore or keep school boy humour at bay from, takes the listener through a boisterous spree of blues and hard rock brought with some mischievous psychedelic tendencies upon their album, the release simple rock n roll to have fun with.

The band formed in 2010 with the intention of blending original rock and blues with a heavy dose of hard rock. The following year saw the release of their debut album Kiss My Ace, which like their latest release was recorded at Tanzan Music Studio. It was well received though the band was set back a little with the departure of vocalist Pietro Peroni. Now with the settled line-up of Matteo “Icio” Idini (lead vocals, guitar), Fabio “Colva” Corradi (guitar, lap steel, dobro, background vocals), Mattia “Boky” Mosconi (bass, background vocals), and Marco Idini (drum, percussion), the band has returned with cylinders firing with Joanna & the Devil to easily please their fans and garner plenty more one suspects.

The album starts with the teasing You Make Me Crazy, an easy going eager slab of rock n roll. The song alone suggests the band is one who has no delusions of being anything more than a feel good and accomplished rock band. The whole album confirms it and it is this honesty which makes the release a good fun companion. As with the album overall, the song is simple but crafted with skill, its presence a feast of keen energy and pulse racing rock sounds.

As mentioned the release is uneven across its length but with tracks like the following uncomplicated hard rock track Change the Way it is impossible not to fully engage with it more often than not. The excellent cover of the Dennis Linde written Elvis Presley hit Burning Love is another feisty treat of aural pleasure, the band not doing more than giving it extra steel and energy but making it sparkle. Featuring a great solo from guest guitarist Mario Percudani of the band Hungryheart, the song is one of the t highlights of the album.

Songs like Believe, the woozy Psychedelic Blues, and the fragile ballad Time for Love, do not light any fires mainly due to personal taste, but one can appreciate the composing and their presentation. They just do not fire up anything more than nodding respect though, something which cannot be applied to the trio of songs which mark the second half of the album.

Firstly there is the lustful So Hot, a song which is as lusty as the title suggests and takes great pleasure from it. A straight forward rock song with a tongue firmly in its cheek it is another slice of fun to light up the album. The following Devil’s Blues and The Black Man are the triumph of the album, both muscular tracks with plenty of rippling passion. The first is another blues driven song which from its early narrative like scene setting turns into a mix of scorched guitars and beckoning rhythms veined with sizzling grooves. Its successor is a robust brew of attitude driven riffs and air blistering melodic enterprise, its blues breath smouldering in the ear and sparking the air. It is the most complete song on the album and the best.

Joanna & the Devil is an enjoyable album which even with its broken levels of quality is still a release any rock and blues fan should take a look at, as when it is on fire it is very easy to spend lots of time with.

RingMaster 15/09/2012

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Tanzan Blue Vol.I: Ballads and Blues for Modern Listeners

With an unreserved mood and unbridled passion the debut compilation from Tanzan Music is an impressive and exciting release. Tanzan Blue Vol.I – Ballads and Blues for Modern Listeners brings together some of the finest artists on the label to offer a selection of songs borne of the blues, folk, and the most impassioned of ballads. Even if those areas of music do not usually spark the strongest reaction or enthusiasm the release has more than enough to make it a satisfying and enjoyable experience for most.

The album brings together music from the likes of Blueville, David Stockdale, Mario Percudani, Smokey Fingers, and Hungryheart into a mix which not only shows off the fine talents and songwriting of these artists but seamlessly places their songs side by side into a thoughtful and pleasing landscape of feelings and emotive atmosphere. There are always favourites within these kinds of compilations but with Tanzan Blue Vol.I you have one of the strongest and most consistently enjoyable collections in a long time.

The album starts off with the glowing heart of Love Letters In My Guitar Case by Italian band Blueville. The song is a blues slow burner which wraps its warm tender grooves laced with a gospel like elegance around the ear. The song bristles and pulsates wonderfully and is an immediate highlight to the release. The band top and tail the album, closing it off with Misery featuring the great vocals of Sherrita Duran, another great song though the opener has a definite edge.

Blueville have as members the equally talented Mario Percudani and Marco Tansini, and the album sees a double entry from both from their solo work. Percudani contributes the songs Don’t Bother Me and You Can Run. The first is a stylish blues rock pleasure bringing a vibrant jazz pulse from the excellent guitar and keyboard work. It is a song that is impossible not to be swept up by, the vocal harmonies with Elisa Paganelli soaring with mesmeric beauty. You Can Run is a slower but no less encapsulating piece with further stunning harmonies from this time Barbara Boffelli alongside Percudani and his stirring musicianship. Both songs show why he is in such demand as a collaborator, songwriter and producer, impactful and deeply pleasing music.

      Marco Tansini brings two songs to the release in the shape of White and Green, both blues grilled slices of guitar heaven. Tansini is one of those artists who even if guitar led music is not your general preference you can sit for hours being hypnotised by. Both songs on the release absorb the senses and his playing and compositions alone portray emotions as deep as any song with words dripping intent and passion.

The album also includes a double pleasure from American singer/songwriter David Stockdale. From Santa Barbara, Stockdale became a favourite with his recent album Dark Riders, and the two cuts from that placed in this release remind why he is one of the more vibrant and infectious artists out there in the blues/folk field.  Here Comes The Night is a captivating song with a slight country whisper running through it whilst Who a keen favourite of ours, makes an energetic and uplifting presence on the album. With the likes of Tom Petty, Dave Matthews and Crosby Stills Nash & Young as influences you can get a sense of the energy and depths of sound he brings forth.

A new band to us Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles also have two songs on the album, the slow pacing Let Me Know and If You Say Goodbye. Another two songs that wear their hearts on their sleeves, the first standing tall with passion oozing from every pore from the great female vocalist featured and the second a ballad from the deepest corner of his emotions. Though both songs do not quite hit the mark like others it is more to their unfamiliar presence one suspects and they do make the want to hear more from them keen.

Completed by single tracks from the excellent Smokey Fingers with Sweet Tears and Hungryheart with You Won’t Be Alone, the album is a thoroughly enjoyable time. The Smokey Fingers song is rife with an openly familiar melody but still an irresistible treat whilst the Hungryheart song though not as impressive as their usual hard rock driven sounds is a welcome and fitting ballad to the release.

Tanzan Blue Vol.I – Ballads and Blues for Modern Listeners is a great and compelling album which not only show cases the great talent at Tanzan Music but brings a complete and thrilling pleasure to be fulfilled by. With so many great artists and songs on board it is an album all should welcome in to their day and hearts.

RingMaster 12/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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