By Jordan Mooney.
Before I start this review…I don’t speak Italian. Not a bit of it. I can’t even speak French. I’m simply not a multi-lingual sort, ladies and gentlemen, but I like to think I know my music. It’s a requirement from the job, to what I understand (!) – and I’m not one to quibble. If music is good, it’s liable to get a feature – if it’s also interesting, the liability increases tenfold. If it’s simply something we’ve never done before, it’s normally a dead cert.
Today’s group is an Italian alternative group called Le Strade, one of the only groups I think we’ve ever had here that sings in their native language. This particular group are of rapidly increasing popularity in their home country – and it’s no real surprise.
Born in 2011 in the fine city of Bologna, they’ve had a fine long run in underground clubs all over Italy, and with the release of their first EP, In Fuga Verso Il Confine (“Run Out to the Border”), in 2013, the group has climbed steadily up the musical ladder, culminating with what seems to have been constant touring that is still in full motion until September.
Le Strade are composed of four musically gifted deliquents. Alessandro Brancati, whom provides both songwriting, vocals and fabulously fluffy looking hair, Davide Baldazzi, who brings Guitars and Backing Vocals, Alessandro Soggiu on drums and percussion and Gigi Fanini, who has fine skills with bass, a great hat, and, in the right lighting conditions, bares a strong likeness to Jude Law’s Watson in the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes pictures.
Welding together electronic beats with the usual guitars and bass into a somewhat towering steel structure above the Italian skyline, Le Strade might not be very easy to understand for those who don’t know Italian – but their architecture has allowed a fine grasp of that oh-so-universal and oh-so-underappreciated language of seriously catchy, seriously infectious alternative music.
The playing is incredibly tight and executed to the finest, with a sound that’s scratchy and rather aggressive without losing any of the tact or production. It’s mixed beautifully, taking full advantage of what bands in the 21st century have available to them, fusing in and out wherever required.
It’s got all the features of classic rock – hard, deep riffs, thumping good bass and some heavily abused drums – matched up with electronica, and perhaps even a little inkling of pop and dance here and there, it all makes for an unusual, but effective, fusion – that works on a somewhat similar line to another Cat on the Wall favourite much closer to home, Reverend and the Makers.
While the vocals are not in my vocabulary, they carry a very similar, very human approach to the Reverend – Alessandro has plenty of talent and he shows it, but he doesn’t sound over-produced or a blatant result of clever studio work. He, and in fact, the entirety of the band, carry a great aspect of tangible talent – a band you can expect to replicate a studio recording in front of you on a small stage surrounded by beer glasses.
It’s worth noting, simultaneously, that the songs are so terribly infectious that your beloved writer caught himself desperately trying to sing along in crude, phonetic impersonations of Italian. As utterly terrible as the result was, it’s testament to a group that knows how to work into your skull. This sort of power can either be used to make great music or for more nefarious purposes. Or both.
…Be careful out there.
This is a band that understands scale and when to execute what in each song. When a song needs a quiet moment, or something to break it up a bit, it comes in, right in the nick of time. When a song needs to feel larger, the backing vocals are practically omnipresent.
The entire EP feels far larger than one would expect, and, honestly, it’s really quite impressive.
To match up with an already excellent EP, we’re also presented with a fine single that doesn’t appear on the preceding release – itself given the gift of a surprisingly artistic music video, seemingly revolving around a very attractive lady whom is semi-unconscious in a typical Amsterdam bedroom. The song itself is what we shall now dub typically impressive Le Strade affair and a fine choice of single I can see equally in the charts and in underground clubs across Europe. It also lends a fine look at every band member for those uninitiated. And adds credence to my sincere belief that Gigi resembles Watson more than you could possibly believe.
While it’s true that foreign languages may not match up with British audiences or speed up Le Strade’s fame over here any time soon, that’s really more our loss than theirs. One doesn’t have to know the subject matter to see passion, enthusiasm and talent, and this EP has more than enough of that to make this a great, even somewhat unforgettable, listen.
This is a band who know how to be badass rock stars while still having plenty of substance in their music. It’s a rare success from the off.
Le Strade get our full recommendation to all of our readers – give it a go – we doubt you’ll be disappointed.