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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Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles: Rusty Miles

Mixing a fine blend of blues and rock the latest album from Italian artist Ricky Ferranti is an easy to enjoy release which without ripping up the songbook lays some interesting and lively sounds upon the ear. The album Rusty Miles is the first under the rock project Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles , a varied and strong release which is sure to find a welcome home in the ears of rock fans. To be neither honest blues nor hard rock is to our taste generally at the RR but the album still offered more than a moment of enjoyment  to leave satisfaction so for lovers of the elements Ferranti skilfully uses it should be a platter of pleasure.

From Piacenza, Ferranti from learning to play keyboards then the guitar has evolved into a skilled musician which is openly evident on Rusty Miles. His history since beginning in and learning about varied aspects of music and sound has seen the release of the Ferranti produced album Feel The Blues from Psycho Train in 2001 followed the next year by his joining with Animali Rari and the subsequent releasing of the albums Stagioni and Sottosopra plus a live full length. Since then he has played with the likes of Fiordaliso, Smaila, Faletti, Grignani and Paolo Meneguzzi, but it was his love of the blues which seeded the formation of Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles in 2010, a rock blues project based on covers and original songs. Rusty Miles itself is an all original collection of songs and music showing the band as a promising proposition.

The first notable thing is how American the album and Ferranti vocally is but in a good way, neither appear to be trying to sound authentic American but just instinctively sounding as the theme and song writing intended, especially in the more country flavoured songs. Rusty Miles is themed by a journey marked by love, the light and view of an angel and a child upon the landscape, and the emotions which walk separation and the great road ahead.

The title track opens up the map of the album with eager and warm melodic directions from the guitar leading into the expressive and reflective song. There is a familiar yet indefinable hook to the song which is infectious and with the keys  having a slight sixties pop air to the keen pace of the song the track is openly pleasing. Alongside Ferranti on each track within the album the impressive bassist J.J. Gianni Grecchi and Maxx Zaccheroni drummer build the framework to the canvas which Ferranti lays his undeniable skills upon. Though some songs work much better than others for us this aspect is persistently impressive.

From a strong start the album moves into the melodic hard rock swagger of Don’t Stop. Though it lit no fires in personal taste here it is another infectious undemanding track which refuses to leave toes alone. It also is the first of a continual ripple of diversity which flows through the album, the following Keep On offering is a country tinged piece of heated imagination featuring an excellent solo from guest guitarist Mario Percudani whilst its successor I Feel So Bad is a bristling classic rock track featuring the vocals of Sam Ranieri.

Together the songs make a more than decent beginning but from here on the album truly excites. First up there is the magnificent Let Me know featuring the wonderful vocals of Sherrita Duran. It is a mesmeric dusty atmosphere brewing song with restrained energy and teasing melodic caresses. It is when Duran enters though that hearts melt and the sun smiles in adoration, her voice glorious and alongside the excellence of the music makes it the best song on the album by far.

The other highlights come through the brilliant music to have southern stills a jumping rockabilly soaked instrumental Country Junkie and the hypnotic ballad My Eyes On You featuring the haunting cello of Andrea Anzalone. The album ends on You’re My Cat, a track whose title made one decide it was a non starter but actually emerged as a fun rock n roller with Ferranti doing a tongue in cheek Presley/Vincent impression with a delicious double bass and violin accompaniment.

Rusty Miles is an album whose only intent is to have and give enjoyment and on that premise is a fine release to spend a random hour with once in a while.

Ringmaster 13/07/2012

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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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Smokey Fingers – Columbus Way

With a sound steeped in the southern rock inspirations of the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers, Italian rock band Smokey Fingers release their debut album Columbus Way on Tanzan Music. Fusing hard rock, blues and country to their southern base sound the quartet from Lodi have brought a fresh and invigorating feel to their music, creating songs that do not hide their open influence but instead excel in its spirit and glory whilst bringing it into a modern arena.

Smokey Fingers began officially in 2008 when drummer Daniele Vacchini and guitarist Diego “Blef” Dragoni teamed up with old friends in vocalist Luca Paterniti and bassist Fabrizio Costa, the various members having played with another in such bands as Smell Of Dog, Dixie Line and in the Double Trouble Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute band. Together they began working on new songs as well as revisiting and developing tracks and melodies from songs written as far back as 2006. What evolved was a flavour of southern rock in the distinct style and touch of Smokey Fingers and a self produced EP Smokey Fingers in 2009 that first brought them a strong attention. Now with Columbus Way and its solid and creative sounds the thought that Smokey Fingers will wake up an unsuspecting world to their music is rife and really there is no reason why it should not be so.

The album consists of twelve tracks that ooze class and vibrancy, with stirring guitars, firm and engaging riffs, and playful smart melodies and harmonies. There is strength across the whole release that not only eagerly grabs attention but satisfies and pleasures. There is also in many ways something for everyone, even those who head for the heavier assaulting riffs and intense attacks. Smokey Fingers brings rock ‘n’ roll to trigger anyone’s inner rhythm. 

The album opens with ‘Old Jack’, a get down and get dirty track that plays easily upon the ear. With a catchy chorus, a great resonating bass, and scorching guitars the song sets the scene for the band’s sound and the album to come, lively and fun it is the perfect lead into the release.

Immediately second track ‘The Lover’ comes in with confirmation of what one first noticed in the opener that Costa is a classy and accomplished bassist. For the second time and not the last on the album, his bass resonates and throbs to give the song an organic feel, a pulse that brings the track even more alive. The other notable thing is how American the band comes over, the expectation was of a sound, certainly vocally, tinged with an Italian flavour but far from it. It also does not feel wrong either, usually one complains of a European band trying to sound American but here it is so natural and easy the thought does not arise.

Across the album produced by Mario Percudani (Hungry Heart), there is a good variety and a very strong consistency with tracks such as the skilful ‘Chains Of Mind’, the emotive grace of ‘Ride Of Love’, and the album’s best track ‘Die For The Glory’ complete with another addictive bassline and stunning creativity, all reinforcing what an extremely well written and performed collection of songs this is. The guitars of Dragoni as everywhere lay down mesmeric patterns with his play and the beats of Vacchini keep everything controlled and neatly paced. Vocally Paterniti is spot on; there are no negatives to send his way even if he sounds more American than should be possible. Combined the band bring America and “the sunny and dusty roads of Alabama!” to the ear but in their own stylised way.

Columbus Way is an essential listen for all Southern and hard rock fans, but anyone who enjoys great melodic rock ‘n’ roll should take a listen. Smokey Fingers has one tasty release for all rock fans to feast upon.

Ringmaster 23/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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