Category: music


FRANCESCO DE GREGORI –  live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016

degregoriThis concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the  ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.

Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.

tickets.jpgThe varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).

De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of  beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. Continue reading

ANOMALISA directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson (USA, 2015)

anomalisa

Michael and Lisa

“I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I don’t want to say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’n not like everybody else”

These lyrics by Ray Davies in The Kinks’ song ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Life’ serves as a neat summation of the central theme in Charlie Kaufman’s latest ‘mindfuck’ movie.

An ‘anomaly’ is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “something unusual, unexpected or different from what usually happens”. As an animated feature for adults, including an explicit and realistic stop motion sex scene, this film is certainly an anomaly but it is also consistent with Kaufman’s previous work in that it is less concerned with external reality and more focused on what goes on inside our heads. Continue reading

TORTOISE – Locomotic Club, Bologna 19th February 2016 

tortoise

It’s gonna rain? Tortoise are ready for all weathers.  L-R: John McEntire, Doug McCombs, John Herndon, Dan Bitney & Jeff Parker

“No moving lights please”. This is the polite but firm request made to lighting engineers by Tortoise’s Dan Bitney after the first song.

The message is clear; the beats may sometimes be danceable but this ain’t no disco.

But the question as to how exactly you do begin to categorize the music of Tortoise has been an ongoing challenge for the past 25 years of the Chicago band’s existence.

Calling it post-rock, as many still do, runs the risk of implying that the band are somehow opposed to conventional rock music. In an interview with The Wire in 2001 John McEntire said “As far as I’m concerned all we’ve ever been is a rock band” and on the strength of their brilliant sold out show at Bologna this is clearly still his position.

What makes them less conventional, and thus harder to pigeonhole, is that no-one sings and they are so clearly wide open to sounds and rhythms from other genres. Jazz is an obvious influence but there are also strong elements of funk, soul and R’n’B. Continue reading

Image based on the top 30 words used in songs based on 1 million recordings.

In this year’s  BBC John Peel lecture, Brian Eno said that one of the failings of modern-day music critics is that they pay too much attention to song lyrics. As part of Roxy Music, Eno played on two of the greatest pop singles of all time – Virginia Plain and Pyjamarama – where the words add to the atmosphere but when considered apart from the music are ,at best, enigmatic, at worst, plain jibberish.

Even when songs do have an obvious meaning or tell a story, they should not be viewed in the same way as poems or works of fiction. This is why the ‘Rock In Translation’ slot of Italy’s Virgin Radio makes for such a torturous listening experience. On this, a woman earnestly reads the translated lyrics to popular tunes as though she were helping to impart some meaningful insight into the human condition. Lines in the vein of “come on baby rock me all night long” are rendered into Italian as though they were some kind of profound comments on the nature of loving relationships. Continue reading

Illustration by Lizzy Stewart.

Illustration by Lizzy Stewart.

‘Don’t Make A Scene – A field guide to putting on DIY gigs’ is a ‘zine compiled by Rob St John and Bartholomew Owl; two dedicated Alt.Folk musicians and all round decent guys.

The 2014 booklet was originally charged at a highly reasonable £4. Now it’s an even better deal as it’s just been made available as a free to download PDF. This generous offer is a way of sticking two fingers up to Black Friday zombie consumption and to embrace the spirit of buy nothing day. Continue reading

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