One of my favorite bands is an Italian rock outfit called Afterhours. I describe them to the uninitiated as a band that came of age during the height of early 90s grunge/alternative rock, but didn’t split up, and so have matured into the kind of band people thought Nirvana or the Pixies might have been.
I discovered them while on a trip to Italy, when I walked into a record store in Padua and asked to hear the Italian equivalent of Radiohead or Pearl Jam. They recommended Afterhours, and I bought “Non E Per Sempre” there. It was interesting, but also strange (see below), but I was intrigued enough to pick up a few more albums when I was in Rome a few years later. And then I was hooked. Since then, I’ve gotten my hands on as much of their music as I could find. I’ve even seen them on a few of their North American stops.
Recently I went back and listened to their albums again, and decided to write my own addition to the endless sea of music literature.
It’s heavy, fuzzed out, psychedelic-drenched guitars noise from height of grunge with a punk undercurrent. In other words, fast. But this is just the mechanism that carries us, and where it takes us is a landscape full of melody and high adrenaline performance. The crew on this ship are awake and alive like only someone can be at a Friday night show in a club that is more energy vibe container than building.
Hai Paura Del Buio? (1997)
Relevancy is something every artist strives for. The ones that achieve it seem to pull from the reptilian parts of our brains that are instantly engaging and familiar, yet can’t be completely understood and so feel fresh every time. This could easily have been two albums, either ending with “Voglia un pelle splendida” or starting with it. These songs feel polished without being reductive. They also feel impromptu without being sloppy. It’s the energy at the heart of each one, and as you listen through the first half into the second half, the punk, hardcore, grunge, instrumentals and piano tracks feel more like an audio manifesto of what’s sonically possible when musicians get together than an exercise in “let’s try and prevent anyone from pigeon holing us.”
Non E Per Sempre (1999)
The nebula/afterglow of the supernova that was Hai Paura Del Buio?. These songs are further down the rabbit hole. The psychedelics are even more swirling, creating ebbs and flows of a strange sea. The pop moments are more fragile and beautiful than before. This artistic vision is fully realized, which makes it the strangest album of their catalog, but also the one that feel like old standards when played live, or when you come back for a listen after a few years.
Coming soon: Siam Tre Piccoli Porcellin, Quello Che Non C’e, Ballads for Little Hyenas, I Milanesi Ammazano il Sabato, Padania, other recordings.