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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Houston! – Mechanical Sunshine

Houston! is one of those bands that despite being around for a few years suddenly falls into view from nowhere like a starburst of quality and intriguing sounds. The band from Piacenza, Italy formed in 2006 releasing the demo Never Alcoholized within the first year but it was the release of their debut album Fast in Elegance in 2008 on US label Sliptrick Records that notice outside of their homeland began to stir. Opening for Vengeance and a first European tour followed through the year and into 2009, continually building up their fan base with sold out shows across Europe. Still though there was much more scope to be discovered worldwide and with the release of their second album Mechanical Sunshine on Tanzan Music on June 24th, a major stride will be taken to achieve that. The reason for confidence that soon Houston! will be a name on many more lips is because their new release is simply impressive. Bursting with 14 tracks of smartly fused gothic c electric and hard rock sounds fuelled by a vein of strong metal riffs, it surprises, inspires and most of all deeply satisfies.

The album starts after a brief instrumental with Planet Terror, a striding track built on tight nu- metal riffs and hard rock melodies and vocals, a combination that on the surface is not immediately encouraging but under the artful songwriting of Houston! it works a treat. It is with the next track though that the real uniqueness of their sound announces itself and shines. Anghell Clown erupts with a Korn/Primer 55 like groove with a slow Manson vocal delivery and intermittent warped circus melodies. The track expands with a hard rock group chorus but never strays too far from the metal almost dark industrial flavour. Vocalist Niccolo Savinelli can deliver many styles with his fine voice, from a hard dark growl, through metal aggression and simply with straight rock flavours, he is able to mix it up neatly and never going too far in one direction.   

The next tracks Let Me Shout and Mechanical Breath stay more with the hard rock sound, the first being a relatively straight forward and satisfying song and the latter having a more gothic tone and strong guitar solo from Phil. The tracks do not move into anything too adventurous though this is not to say the tracks are merely ordinary but up against the more menacing and inventive tracks before and following they do not stand out as blatantly. The melodramatic gothic Black Rose rises up next with driving riffs and a darker intensity from bassist Gaby Facchini and the powerful drums of Giovanni Savinelli, showing the difference just mentioned. There is a cool gothic cinematic feel about the song and one can visualise a potent emotive video for it in the mind as it plays out.

The album as it progresses ebbs and flows, always holding a fine consistency with bursts of stunning songs regularly breaking out. The industrial/hard rock blend of Generation ’09, My Swedish Baby Looks Like A Star with its Dope like energetic and irresistible groove, and the best track on the album the stomping stormer Sick, Sex, Six, are all thrilling examples of the quartet’s infectious and inviting music. Amongst the raucous rock grinding sounds the band also show their skill with expressive ballads such as One Day and Cold, showcasing the ability and variation in the bands songwriting to bring something unique with each individual song.

Mechanical Sunshine closes with a cover of the Rob Zombie classic Dragula. The band produce a fine effort and though it is impossible to come near to the original it does make a fun way to end the album and after the previous great tracks it is merely a good enjoyable addition rather than a musical statement. Houston! has created an album that explodes with great sounds and creatively realised ideas and should bring them into the awareness of a much bigger audience. Further on they could explore two directions, the hard rock tradition or a harder darker metal edged sound which currently seems their destiny going by Mechanical Sunshine. This is a must listen release that will impress everyone who ventures into it.

Houston! will be touring across Europe in summer/fall 2011.

For more information, please visit: www.myspace.com/houstonband.

Pete RingMaster 10/06/2011

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