Rusted Pearls and The Fancy Free: Roadsigns EP

This past twelve months has seen Italy spawn some strong and enjoyable music with a heart inspired by blues and country rock sounds from the US. Earlier this year Ricky Ferranti & The Rusty Miles released an album which pleased the ear whilst the tail of last year saw equally impressive releases from Smokey Fingers and Blueville. Now we have the debut EP Roadsigns from Rusted Pearls and The Fancy Free, a quartet from Udine. Containing six blues soaked slices of heartfelt melodic rock, the release is a soulful embrace which has the quality to delight most palates.

The band consists of Dario Snidaro (guitar, vocals), Andrea Mauro (guitar, slide guitar), Maximum Mattiussi (drums), and Mark Fabro (bass), its seeds starting with the solo acoustic work of Snidaro in his 2010 release 2 Words, Travel Alone. The sound of the band has evolved into a dusty blend of Rolling Stones like blues, Black Crowes and Smokey Fingers flavoured country rock, and the hard rock breath of Tom Petty. It is a mix which is honest and open whilst inviting a similar response from its audience. The music is not groundbreaking or opening up new avenues to explore but offers nothing less than its full heart to satisfy and please.

The release brings a nice blend of energies across its tracks from the eager and lively Free to the slower reflective Chilly Girl. The first of this pair strokes the ear with heated guitar play and firm rhythms whilst in the back ground keys whisper with emotive charm. It is the guitar though which steals the show especially the sizzling solo at the centre of the song. The vocals of Snidaro are expressive and earnest, you feel his emotion hanging from every word through his lips, to enhance the emotive atmosphere the music creates. The second of the two is a gentle and tender caress with again its heart on its sleeve. The guitars come with a blues kiss for the ear whilst the bass is as deep and emotive as the words sung. The two tracks show the variety of the release whilst still slipping easily within the covering intent of sound.

Roadsigns and White Lines is a heated piece of rock which stirs up the senses from its striking start, a road driven song with electric tread marks across the ear in its rear mirror. It has an infectious air which scorches the senses, its energy restrained though it seems to want to press on into a fury of sound.

The release closes with Precious, another tender embrace for the ear which is all passion and soul but before its arrival the two best songs on show excite first. Home is a steely piece of rock music which has an edgy surface to its instinctive call to the heart. Musically the song  borders aggression whilst within its muscular presence the lyrics and vocals are exuding deep emotion for a blend of slight extremes. The other track Rusted Pearls is a gritty piece of expression with riled energies and unleashed passion. It is a song which evokes a deeper reaction to its stirring tones and harsh blues energies than to other tracks and lingers around long after its official departure.

The Roadsigns EP is a release which is not trying to be anything more than a pleasing and engaging collection of songs steeped in the pure oils of American rock, blues and country. It and The Rusted Pearls & Fancy Free achieve that aim with ease.

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RingMaster 28/08/2012

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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.

http://www.tanzanmusic.com/catalogue/various-artists/tanzan-blue-volume-1

RingMaster 12/05/2012

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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

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