Santa Fe New Mexico - USA
Apprentice by The Blues Against Youth. This is a one-man band from Italy, that one-man being a Roman guy named Gianni TBAY. (TBAY. Think about it.) He sings and plays guitar (lots of slide!) and drums. His sound is reminiscent of American one-man bands like Scott H. Biram and John Schooley, with both country and blues roots and a D.I.Y. punk-rock sensibility.
This album starts off with a slow and purdy blues instrumental called “Keep It Goin’.” At just over a minute long, however, this really is just an invocation to the blues spirits. The faster-paced “Medium Size Star Bound” is the real opener. It features some tasty picking and lyrics about career frustration (“Medium size star bound/They can make you drown/Turn you upside down/But they can’t take your heart.” And in the middle, where you might expect a guitar solo, Gianni gives us a whistle solo. No, it’s not played on a whistle instrument — he actually whistles a melody. Truly whistling is a lost art in rock ’n’ roll.
One of my favorites here is “Got Blood in My Rhythm,” a jaunty number that would work for either the Rolling Stones (Exile on Main St.-era) as well as Dinosaur Jr. And did I say something about country roots? There’s a stunning cover here of one of Hank Williams’ saddest songs, “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow.”
The album’s most impressive number is the title song, a seven-minute hard, gritty blues. Coming from out of nowhere, there’s an electric organ solo that’s nothing short of spooky. I’m not sure if this is Gianni or another musician. All I know is that it works.