Laino & Broken Seeds – Sick To The Bone
Off Label Records – 2020
8 tracks; 32 minutes
This band comes from Bologna, Italy and this is their second album, following an initial EP in 2014. Guitarist and songwriter Andrea Laino leads the band which includes Gaetano “Kaimano” Alfonsi on drums and percussion and Salvatore “Messico” Lauriola on electric bass; Andrea handles the vocals on all bar one track and Hammond organ is added to one cut by Paolo ‘Pee Wee’ Durante. Andrea was inspired to take the blues road after a visit to a New York club and returned to his native Italy with a notebook of ideas which he initially performed on resonator guitar on the streets of Bologna.
Andrea handles the vocals on most of this all-original outing. The one exception is “Winanta” on which singer and lyricist AfnoRock joins the band; apparently a song in support of a Moroccan journalist, the chunky guitar riff and pounding drums sound fine but the lyrics remained unintelligible, even after several listens, to the extent that I was unsure which language was being used! The other tracks are easier to understand, as Andrea’s vocals are reasonably clear and he sings with only a slight trace of accent, making the songs accessible to an anglophone audience. The overall style is a blend of slide guitar and, on most tracks, heavy rhythms, the feel of the music taking you back to the late 60’s/early 70’s. Opening track “Spells And Magic” tears out of the blocks with lashings of slide over booming bass and lively drums as Andrea tries to keep his feet on the ground despite all that is going on around him. “Way Up Above” slows the pace a little with lots of percussion effects behind the slide and lyrics that seemed pretty opaque to these ears. “Sick To The Bone” is clearer in intent as Andrea sings of his frustrations over a busy, country-tinged rhythm with the slide in mellow mode. Lyrically, things get a little weird in “Lost Dead Island”, a place of which Andrea had heard tell but did not quite believe, this all at odds with the rather cheerful music!
The core riff on “Sleepthinkers” would not have sounded out of place on a Led Zep album and Andrea double-tracks his slide over that very effectively, so it’s an attractive tune but again not very clear in its lyrical intentions. No such problems with “Singin’ The Blues Around Booze”, the addition of the Hammond seeming to liberate Andrea who gives us his strongest slide playing here on a song that one assumes is autobiographical. The album closes with “Music Makes You High”, a little more stripped-back, semi-acoustic, tune with percussion to the fore and slide work in a country blues style, nicely done, and probably the track that comes closest to a straight blues.
At just 32 minutes this is arguably more of an EP than a full album and not all the tracks will appeal to everyone, but there are certainly aspects of the music that will. Give it a listen, you can find it on Bandcamp and the full album can also be heard on YouTube.