Songs for the road No. 3

It’s been a while since I found the inspiration to write down something about music I’m listening to, but finally here we are. I haven’t stopped listening to stuff, but I guess a bad blow to my habits has been dealt by the apparent difficulty with which iOS 8 is allowing users to download music from Youtube, damn them. Anyway, here we go.

Fighting and Onions, Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. Some people call it “roots revival”, others “bluegrass”, others go for the classic “American Folk”. Personally I call it “People who, unlike Mumford & Sons, deserve to play a banjo”. AMGC are a Calgary-based ensemble of musicians who, one fine day, started to put their amazing talent at the service of music. Their names are Vlad, Bob, Judd and Peter and what they put together is the most convincing mixture of blues, Appalachian folk, bluegrass and hobo gospels you’ll hear in a while. Unlike their much refined, almost posh, lookalikes from London they really sound coarse and raw as a night spent howling songs on a freight train, but that’s only an impression, for behind Bob’s raucous voice there are four amazingly talented musicians, capable of mixing toghether the most complex melodies. If you don’t believe me, check out that video on Youtube when they belt out Nehemia’s Misfortune with William Elliott Whitmore while being in the loo: there’s one, and this ain’t no shit, playing an empty Jameson bottle.

Summer Sessions Vol. 3, Causa Sui. Instrumental prog-rock bands must’ve been all the rage when the Jesus Christ look was in fashion for men, but they sound quite passée nowadays. However news of this don’t seem to have reached Denmark, where Causa Sui are at their eight album. And that’s a good thing in my opinion, because we all need some good prog rock, some nice Black Sabbath-esque riffs and, all in all, music that could very well be the soundtrack of a great film. Now that I said that, I wish that Ron Howard could use them to remake his Rush.

Self-titled, Blues Pills. You’d excuse me for putting two Scandinavian groups in the same post, but I’m finding hard not to mention Blues Pills’ debut album in the list of the stuff I’m compulsively listening to these days. As the name suggests the band is here to make blues and it has to be said that these Swedes (with a bit of America and France thrown in for good measure) are really good at it. It’s nothing new, as they owe to the big of the Seventies – Cream, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin – basically everything, from the riffs to the album’s artwork and, disgracefully, the clothing and hairdos as well. But it’s still great to listen to powerful songs sang by a vocalist, Elin, with a great voice and an overall great rhythm. I struggle to believe we’ll hear from them in five years’ time but in the meanwhile it’s great to have them here.

Linea Gotica, Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti (C.S.I.). Italian music, opera aside, doesn’t have much credit or following once you cross the Alps, and for good reasons. However, there are a few musicians, composers I daresay, who deserve a much wider audience even though the fact that singing in Italian will definetely dampen down their potential for those who don’t understand it,

CSI is one of such groups. Born out of CCCP (they have a thing for acronyms, you’ll see), they were a group of extremely fine musicians united around the charismatic figure of Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, a man whose political ideas are as bonkers as his musical genius.

Linea Gotica is the Italian for Gotenstellung, the last defensive line held by the Germans at the end of the bloodbath that was the Italian Campaign in the years 1943-’45. The war theme occurs many times in the album, with songs such as the title bearer Linea Gotica which tells the story of Alba, a town in Piedmont that expelled the Fascists and held on for 23 days, an event narrated by writer Beppe Fenoglio to whom the song is dedicated. My favourite song, though, is Cupe Vampe, dark flames, dedicated to the arson of Sarajevo’s library during the bloody siege in 1995-’96. The dark flames are, for the group, the symbol of the end of culture, of peace, of civilisation and hope.

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