Monday, 19 February 2018

THE WESTERN ORCHESTRA

Dollaro d’Onore were formed in 2012 in Pistoia as a rock tribute project to Spaghetti Western films original soundtracks and it wasn’t until 2015 that they started working on original composition in the same style. The name of the band refers to the Italian title of Rio Bravo, a 1959 American Western film produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring, among others, John Wayne. Having honed their skills with a good live activity on the local scene, in 2017 they finally self-released an excellent debut album entitled Il lungo addio, featuring four covers and six original compositions where the band try (in their own words) to revive the classic Spaghetti Western original soundtracks undertones in a modern rock-oriented fashion... relying on a Progressive Rock approach. The current line up features Lorenzo Pinto (keyboards, piano, Moog, bandoneon), Gennaro Alfano (guitars, banjo), Francesco Pellegrini (bass) and Alberto Buti (drums) but during the recording sessions many guest musicians contributed to enrich the sound. The result, in my opinion, is a mature work in the vein of bands such as Goblin, La Batteria, Strato’s or Calibro 35...



The very first notes of the opener “E lo chiamarono Giustizia” (And they called him Justice) could recall The Shadows, then whistles, choirs and a brilliant rhythm section take you right into the scene of an imaginary Spaghetti Western film… For every original track on this album you can find in the booklet a kind of screenplay, a short story written by Luca “Tuco Ramirez” Capponi to describe the musical content of the piece. In this is case the music try to evoke a scene where a man in a coach acts against two rascals to defend a female passenger. For this piece was also shot an interesting video that sets the scene in the present, in a school bus... 


The screenplay of the melancholic “Il lungo addio” (The long good-bye) tells about the last moments in the life of a fugitive gunslinger. Deadly wounded, he bids his last farewell to his sweetheart Mary, the queen of the local brothel... Then comes the first cover, “Il mucchio selvaggio” (The wild bunch) by Ennio Morricone, from the 1973 Spaghetti Western comedy film My Name Is Nobody, directed by Tonino Valerii and starring Terence Hill. The Dollaro d’Onore’s version of this piece is excellent!

The following “Duello al camposanto” (Duel at the graveyard) begins by a piano pattern and the sound of a trumpet, then the other instruments come in bringing tension and an impending sense of tragedy. The screenplay describes a scene where a man escapes by chance and bravery from the hands of his evil enemy who was torturing him in a graveyard...


“L’estasi dell’oro” (The ecstasy of gold) is a good cover of a piece by Ennio Morricone from the soundrack of the 1966 epic Spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. Then it’s the turn of another cover, “I giorni dell’ira” (The days of wrath) by Riz Ortolani from the 1967 film Day of Anger, directed and co-written by Tonino Valerii and starring Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma.

The disquieting “The Buried Gun” features the guest Simone Salvatori on vocals and is the only sung track on this album. The music and lyrics portray a man who struggles with the ghosts of his violent, adventurous past and can’t get accustomed to the routine of an ordinary man. It reminds me slightly of a song by the Australian band Augie March entitled This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers...

Dollaro d'Onore 2017

The screenplay of the dark, tense “Un’oncia di piombo nel cuore” (An ounce of lead in the heart) tells of a terrible crime. A child kills his wicked, drunken father who was beating his mother to the pulp. Well, sad story but magnificent music… The following track is more relaxed. “C’era una volta il West” (Once upon a time in the West) is a cover of a famous piece by Ennio Morricone, from the 1968 epic Spaghetti Western film of the same name, based upon a story by Dario Argento, co-written and directed by Sergio Leone and starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards.

The final track, “La mano sinistra del diavolo” (Devil’s left hand), is an original piece dedicated to the memory of the Italian actor Bud Spencer. The screenplay describes a duel between a big bearded man and an impulsive gambler looking for troubles… Another great track and a wonderful finale for a very interesting work!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

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Sunday, 18 February 2018

TEA AND TREASURES

Endless Season came to life as a trio in 2014 in Bassano del Grappa, a town in the province of Vicenza, with a first line up featuring Lorenzo Di Prima (bass), Marco Busatto (drums) and Paolo Busatto (guitar). Later they were joined by Alessandro Brunetta (sax) and Marcello Sambataro (keyboards) who contributed to enrich the sound bringing new colours to the musical palette of the band. In 2016 the quintet self-released an interesting eponymous debut album with their original compositions full of freshness and energy. According to their website, Endless Season’s influences range from jazz/rock and fusion/funk artists such as Scott Henderson, Mike Stern, Dave Weckl Band, Oz Noy, Alain Caron and others to jazz musicians like Avishai Cohen and more progressive sounds. The final result, in my opinion, is really good: ten instrumental tracks with different atmospheres and moods that should be able to stir your curiosity...


The effervescent opener “Scott Noy” starts with a lively rhythm pattern, then frenzied passages alternate with calmer sections… Next comes the dreamy, relaxed “Misty Morning” that leads to the bursts of energy of the following “Mark Funk”. The mysterious “Sherazade” brings Oriental flavours and hypnotic atmospheres while on the following “Doctor Jelinek” the rhythm takes off again for a musical journey across the Ocean, towards American starry skies. Then it’s the time of the dark “Treasures For Teatime”. For this beautiful piece the band shot a video where you can discover the dangerous effects of the treasures of the title...


The slow “You Talk So Loud” could evoke a dance of big reptiles coming out like ghosts from the pages of an old book by Charles Darwin about evolution... Well, as you can guess, this piece vaguely reminds me of BMS and is one of my favourite tracks on this work. It leads to the frenzied, nervous “Elastic”. Then, the oblique funky of “The Big Crunch” and the long, complex “Zenith” close an album that in my opinion is really worth listening to.

Have a try! You can listen to complete album HERE

At the moment the band are working on new compositions with a renewed line up and I’m looking forward to listen to it...

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Monday, 18 December 2017

DROPS OF ABSINTHE

Think Tank were formed in Bari in 2015 by Lino Paglionico (vocals), Fabio Prota (keyboards), Gennaro Piepoli (guitar, vocals), Davide Vacca (bass) and Gese Marsico (drums). According to the band, their influences range from seventies progressive rock to the more modern sound of artists such as Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. In 2017 they self-released an interesting eponymous EP featuring a nice art work by Arianna Operamolla and five original pieces sung in English with a strong leaning  towards AOR. 


The opener “Joe The Joiner” is a lively, sarcastic piece about a bigot man and his unfaithful wife, Mary. The theatrical vocals feature the collaboration of the guest female singer Rossella Antonacci who plays the role of the cheating woman. Then comes the funky “Dreary Anxious”, a track that tries to open a window of hope in an idle present made of pills and needles. It shows that the best antidote against depression is love...


Next comes the reflective, melodic “Serendipity”, a calm, dreamy piece that draws a line between past and future and tries to drive you through a world where all the dreams are made of sand and stones… The light, short “Fool You Are” and the dark, ironic “The Dark Inside The Fool” close the album with some good shots of tonic energy.

Think Tank on stage

Well, Lino Paglionico and Fabio Prota were both members of another band called Assenzio that in 2005 released an excellent album entitled ‘Avon. For this new project they chose to sing in English but in my opinion it’s a pity that they didn’t exploit more their mother language… Maybe next time!

You can listen to the complete EP HERE

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