If you are at all familiar with the growing one-man band scene, then you know it has been inundated with more than its share of blues punk and outsider country artists. But if one simply takes the time to rummage through them, much as a squatter does when he dumpster dives for everyday essentials, thoroughly and discerningly, one is sure to come up with quite a few that are worth a damn. One such artist is a one-man band from the largely populated Italian scene, who goes by the moniker The Blues Against Youth, and who not all that long ago released “Trapped in the Country,” the follow-up to his 2011 full-length “Pure at Heart Blues.” He didn’t release this one exclusively on his own Deer It Yourself Records, but teamed up with Johnny Hanke’s Off Label Records out of Germany. And he has decidedly improved on his already unique and impressive sound, which proves that this project of his is more than just having kicks, but also a lifestyle and an ever-evolving art form.
“Trapped in the Country” by The Blues Against Youth is eleven originals and one cover song, mostly consisting of country blues stomp and roots punk, with dirty guitar strumming, driving foot-percussion, little creative tempo shifts and pauses and frenzied bursts of twang thrown in here and there to keep things interesting, and of course Gianni TBAY’s torrents of distorted vocals. For this recording, as usual, Gianni played guitar, kick drum, hi-hat, kazoo, his invisible iron snare, and sang, all simultaneously, just as he would during a live performance. But unlike most of his performances, he brought in a small handful of fellow musicians to contribute to his latest material, with a range of instrumentation from harp and trumpet to banjo and guitar lead. And while what Gianni does all by his lonesome is perfectly adequate, the additional instrumentation truly enhances the recorded versions of these songs.
Aside from the cover tune, Honey Don’t by David Allan Coe (an excellent choice, incidentally), the rest of the songs on “Trapped in the Country” are Blues Against Youth originals. The ones that absolutely standout are On the Hill, a continuation of the sort of material Gianni wrote and recorded during his “Pure at Heart Blues” sessions, Soul Mercenary Blues, a brief detour into the land of sacred country blues, and The Man Who Feels Trapped, a straightforward piece of blues rock that is strummed and picked in turns. On top of those, there are Three Headed Demon, a fuzzed-out and stomp-heavy rocker, Out of 2012, a slow-moving country stummin’ song, and my personal favorite Gone with the Grill, a clean-channel chord-playin’, trumpet-blowin’, hi-hat-clankin’, and stream-of-narrative vocal delivery bit of musical experimentation.
The Blues Against Youth has been referred to as “the country rock primitive one man experiment,” and I would have to say that it is a pretty fitting label to stamp his sound with. And if you are interested in what exactly that sounds like, check out The Blues Against Youth online, or grab a copy of “Trapped in the Country” from Off Label Records.
For fans of: Lonesome Joseph, John Schooley, Birds Are Alive, Tongue Tied Twin, Pete Yorko, Dr. Albert Flipout & His One Can Band, Christian Beshore, and Stomping Nick & His Blues Grenade, among others.