Eurovision 2021 Winner – Måneskin: “Zitti E Buoni”

I’ve never much followed Eurovision (officially titled the Eurovision Song Contest), but I really like this year’s winning song “Zitti E Buoni” by Italian heavy-metal band Måneskin. A young band, Rome-based Måneskin formed in 2016 when its four members – Damiano David (lead vocals), Victoria De Angelis (bass), Thomas Raggi (guitar) and Ethan Torchio (drums) – were all still in high school. An unusual name for an Italian band, Måneskin – which is Danish for ‘moonlight’ – was suggested by band member De Angelis, who is half Danish. They released their debut single “Chosen” in 2017, and soon afterward rose to fame when they came in second in Season 11 of Italy’s version of “X Factor.” After their song “Zitti e Buoni” was chosen at the Sanremo Music Festival song contest in March, it became Italy’s official entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, held in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This is the third win for Italy, which has been in the competition continuously since its 1956 inaugural.

A bit of background for those who may be unfamiliar, Eurovision is the international song competition put on by the European Broadcasting Union. Held annually since 1956 (except for 2020 due to the Covid pandemic), Eurovision is immensely popular, ranking among the world’s most watched non-sporting events every year, with hundreds of millions of viewers tuning in from across the globe. Generally, artists who perform are primarily from European countries, though they’ve also come from Australia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel and Turkey. Performing at the contest has often boosted the careers of artists in their own countries, and in some cases internationally. Some of the most popular artists in the world have competed in past contests, including ABBA, Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Celine Dion and Flo Rida (who was featured on the song “Adrenalina” by Italian singer Senhit, who represented San Marino at this year’s contest).

“Zitti E Buoni”, which means “shut up and behave”, is a hard-driving, melodic and undeniably sexy tune. I cannot understand a word they’re singing, but who cares? It’s catchy as hell, with scorching riffs and pulse-pounding rhythms that aim straight for the hips. David’s raw, rapid-fire vocals are electrifying, with a sensual ferocity that beautifully captures his animalistic persona. The terrific video for the song showcases the band’s strong charisma and youthful energy. Thanks to its Eurovision win, the song is already at #9 on the Spotify Global Chart, and has become the most-streamed Italian song ever.

Here’s their performance of the song at the Eurovision second rehearsal:

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IZA GRAU – Album Review: “Vastness Hurts”

Iza Grau
Photo by Barbara Pasquariello

Iza Grau is a dark wave rock band based in Modena, Italy, who recently released their outstanding debut album, Vastness Hurts. (It dropped Friday, April 3rd, which seems to have been a big day for new music releases, as this is the fourth in a series of seven reviews I’m writing for music released that day.) It’s an astonishing work that I loved at first listen, and am pleased to now share it with my readers. The album contains nine stellar tracks, all of them dark, complex, melodic and thrilling, with influences that call to mind The Cure, Depeche Mode and Interpol, three bands I dearly love. In their own words, their music “draws its influences from the obscure imagery of the industrial / new wave movement of the last century, combined with visual inspirations such as Wim Wenders’ Berlin and the claustrophobic spaces of ‘Possession’ by Zulawski.”

Making this awesome music are Luca Amadessi (vocals), Sergio P. Cardinali (guitar), Alessandro Stefani (guitar), Roberto Fordiani (drums) and Giuseppe Longone (bass).  Released via Cleopatra Records, Vastness Hurts was recorded by Simon Maccari at Peak Studio in Rubiera, Italy and mastered at by Giovanni Versari at La Maestà Mastering Studio in Forlì. The interesting cover art “You and whose army” for the album was created by Giacomo Vanetti.

Iza Grau Album

The album kicks off with “Naiad“, and within seconds of hearing those haunting guitar notes, ominous synths and deep, buzzing bass, I’m hooked. Amadessi’s smoky vocals hover in a sweet zone between seductive and menacing as he croons “All your nightmares turned out to be your lovers, your lovers tonight.” His vocals rise to impassioned wails as the music explodes in the final chorus with screaming guitars and dramatic synths that leave me covered in goosebumps.

I’m barely able to catch my breath before “The Grace Within Nocturnal Animals” arrives on an exhilarating wave of driving beats and dazzling guitar riffs. With its retro 80s new wave grooves and descending guitar lines, the song has a brooding Depeche Mode/The Cure vibe, and I love it! The dual intricate layered guitar work by Cardinali and Stefani is spectacular, dancing over Longone’s smoldering bass line. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. And speaking of great bass lines, Longone’s driving bass on “Cage of Blessing” is a thing of wonder. Once again the guitar work here is breathtaking, with frantic riffs of resonant jangly guitars that seem to pay homage to The Cure. Fordiani smashes his drums like a raging beast, and Amadessi’s powerful vocals are spine-tingling.

As the album unfolds, the great tunes keep coming on strong. “Recoil” is a dark, melodically beautiful hard rock song with stunning guitar work. Amadessi’s sultry, passionate vocals sound better than ever as he fervently sings “Changing evermore / Till you destroy your lies / Till your pain becomes a cross, and you’re about to die.” The anthemic Inviolate” delivers raging riffs of gnarly and chiming guitars, nimble bass grooves and a thunderous mix of crashing cymbals and pummeling drums. By now, I’m in absolute awe of Iza Grau’s jaw-dropping musicianship.

Northern Lights” starts off with distant-sounding psychedelic synths, then watery riffs of jangly guitars wash over us, plunging us headlong into a mysterious and beautiful soundscape as Amadessi ominously croons “Your life remains forever in the frail form of whirling waves / Waiting for a slow dive / It’s a slow dive into your fleshy rage.” Many of Iza Grau’s dramatic lyrics are rather allegorial and enigmatic, in their words “influenced and shaped by the theme of ‘the double’ that governs the forces of nature and humanity.”

Burn Everything” has an Interpol sound to my ears, and in fact, Amadessi’s moody, droning vocals remind me a bit of Paul Banks, but with an Italian accent. Another favorite of mine is “Endless Dance“, a dark and spooky track with ghostly synths, haunting riffs, buzzsaw bass and pummeling drumbeats, all accompanied by Amadessi’s menacing vocals that turn downright scary at the end.

The album closes with the title track “Vastness Hurts“, a melodically complex and gorgeous song that borders on symphonic rock. The intense, sweeping instrumentals and progressive metal elements create a breathtaking cinematic soundscape that’s truly spectacular. I’m sounding like a broken record and running out of superlatives, but yet again I have to reiterate that the powerful and intricate guitar work is fucking phenomenal. It’s a grand finish to a magnificent album that I happily label a musical masterpiece. Vastness Hurts is a remarkable work, and an impressive debut for this incredibly talented band.

Connect with Iza Grau:  WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifyApple Music / YouTube
Purchase:  BandcampGoogle PlayAmazon

MAYOBA – Artist Spotlight & Review

I get so tired of hearing that ‘rock is dead’, because as far as I can tell by the huge number of bands throughout the world making great kickass rock these days, the genre seems to be very much alive. One such band doing their part to keep rock going strong is Italian crossover metal band Mayoba. Influenced by some of their favorite bands like Gojira, Opeth, Meshuggah, Lamb of God, Pantera, Killswitch Engage, Megadeath, Helmet, Biohazard and Alter Bridge, they serve up a face-melting, yet highly melodic, stew of hardcore and groove metal.

Based in the southern Italian city of Trani on the Adriatic coast, they’re a fairly new band, forming just last year (2018). Guitarist Francesco Di Bitonto and drummer Mimmo instantly clicked upon meeting each other at a casual jam session, and started playing music together and working on some ideas for songs. They were soon joined by vocalist Luca Bove, and Mayoba was officially born. Their lineup was completed in early 2019 when Enrico Povia joined the band as bassist.


They released their first single “Through the Fire” in September, and the title’s certainly fitting, as Mayoba sets the airwaves afire like a rampaging flamethrower-wielding beast. The track starts off with dark, ominous synths that conjure up images of a gathering storm, then all hell breaks looks once the guys unleash a furious barrage of pummeling riffs, buzzsaw bass and speaker-blowing drums. Luca’s hardcore vocals are downright fearsome as he screams and growls the lyrics “Where should I go? I’m walking through the fire, where I belong!“, sending chills up and down our spines. They produced a video that shows them performing the song at a nighttime outdoor concert, juxtaposed with dramatic footage of explosions and civil unrest. Be sure to turn the volume all the way to maximum on this!

On “Falling“, Mayoba delivers an unrelenting onslaught of explosive, chugging riffs, scorching basslines and thunderous drumbeats that really showcase their impressive musicianship. I love the song’s powerful, driving melody and, once again, Luca makes his vocal chords bleed with his spine-tingling feral screams.

Savior” is another banger, with a frantic, pulse-pounding tempo that really gets the blood pumping! Man, these guys blow the fucking roof off with some of the most intense grooves I’ve heard in a long while. Francesco shreds his guitar to the breaking point as he lays down heavy doses of scorching machine-gun riffs. Enrico and Mimmo keep the pace with their relentless assault of pummeling rhythms, while Luca continues to melt our faces with his savage vocals. A little past the 3-minute point, the song transitions to a haunting guitar solo by Francesco that’s quite beautiful and melodic. It’s a striking finish for a phenomenal track.

Mayoba plans to continue performing live and touring as much as possible in 2020, joining many big festivals throughout Italy. Then they plan to return to the studio again at the end of next summer to record an EP or possibly even an album. Their music is not available for purchase yet, but is available for streaming on Soundcloud and Reverbnation. They hope to eventually find a label to support their music and help them grow. In the meantime, I’m happy to do my small part to help promote them to a wider audience. I’m not the biggest fan of hardcore/metal music, but Mayoba’s songs are so melodic and well-executed that they’re beautiful to my ears.

Connect with Mayoba:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

ANDY K LELAND – Single Review: “A Chair is a Chair”

Andy K Leland Chair Art

Like most singer-songwriters, Italian indie folk artist Andy K Leland is a poet of sorts, penning lyrics loaded with meaning and expressed mostly through his pleasing acoustic guitar and quirky, off-beat vocal style. Andy – who was born Andrea Marcellini – refers to himself as Andrea’s “shadow-self, and the two selves fear each other.” That dichotomy is clearly evident in his songs, where his sometimes dark, depressing lyrics sharply contrast with his simple, catchy melodies and mellow lo-fi vibe. Despite his cynical, often bleak lyrics about life and relationships, his songs seem to tell us to not take life too seriously, or at the very least resign ourselves to life’s inevitable travails without losing our minds in the process.

Like a lot of artists I’ve reviewed lately, I’ve previously featured Andy several times on this blog, and you can read some of my reviews of his music by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post. He’s now released a wonderful new single “A Chair is a Chair“, and it’s one of his best songs yet. It still has the charming signature lo-fi acoustic vibe of all his music, but features added instrumentals in the form of mellotron and ambient drone guitar, played by guest musician Simone Laurino, giving the track a lovely, poignant and fuller sound. Andy recorded the song on his old Tascam 4-track cassette recorder, but the sound quality is quite good.

Regarding the song’s meaning, Andy told me “I wrote the first two lines of the verse right after an old weird memory about a chair came back. Don’t really know why that memory showed up… but that’s how it started. I can say that the song is totally about a dream I haven’t had yet. That’s pretty much it!”

Get your head
Hold it tight
Hold it tight
Release your head
Grab a chair
Use your brain man
Use your brain

Wave goodbye now your time is coming ‘round
Swaying forth and backwards
As you’re bouncing up and down
Guess you don’t want to get lazy oh it’s hard
Your crystal ball’s unfair you’d better hurry up
Time is crazy how come we are so let down?

Up to you
Up to me
What could we do friend?
What would we do?
If you prefer now
Go out tonight
Stay put and beg your God to
Drift us apart, us apart

Wave goodbye now your time is coming ‘round
Swaying forth and backwards
As you’re bouncing up and down
Guess you don’t want to get lazy oh it’s hard
Your crystal ball’s unfair you’d better hurry up
Time is crazy how come we are so let down?

Welcome all that’s my garden
Very nice place to be
The air is cool
Come lie down…

The trippy video, which was also directed and produced by guest musician Simone Laurino, shows a variety of psychedelic, sci-fi and kaleidoscopic images that represent the kinds of surreal things the mind would imagine in a dream.

Follow Andy:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on:  Bandcamp / iTunes

BetaPSI – Single Review: “Psychosomatic”

betapsi psychosomatic

BetaPSI is the music project of Italian singer/songwriter/producer Barbara Benedetti. Based in Trieste, BetaPSI (also symbolized by the characters βψ) is a fascinating woman and artist who creates innovative alternative electronic rock music that’s thoroughly unique and unlike anything I’ve heard from any other musician. She provides a wonderful description of herself and her music in her bio that I can’t improve upon, so will just quote her words:

“I am β. an Italian songwriter. I grew up listening to all music genres, I love music itself. Suddenly, around March 2016, all the music I’ve listened to throughout my life, started pushing to get out… so here I am. I still don’t know how it works but my half neuron (I called it ‘Half’) started spiking music and lyrics. So I took my electric guitar and my bass, I bought a micro (micro, very micro) synth, and started torturing them. Then I learnt how Ableton works… it is a long story… the point is I’m a nut and weird so I started making songs. Due to the “features” above mentioned, all BetaPSI songs in some way are different from one another. They are all original songs, written, played with my beloved instruments, performed, recorded and mixed by BetaPSI aka me.”


She’s also a gracious and generous artist who actively supports other artists, and is always open to working with them to combine their creative talents and produce fresh and exciting music. In her short time making music, she’s already collaborated with several musicians from around the world, including GJART (Spain), thommo (UK) and Vizualye (USA). She has also produced an astonishing output of music in her own right. One of her latest singles is “Psychosomatic“, a darkly thrilling EDM track about mental illness that she released on January 4th.

The song blasts open with an onslaught of grinding industrial synths, then a hypnotic driving beat hooks us in as BetaPSI’s eerie, seductive vocals enter the mix like a siren’s call, pulling us willingly into a swirling vortex of ominous sounds from which we’re powerless to escape. As the track progresses, she adds layers pf pulsating spacey and psychedelic synths and her own spooky echoed backing vocals, further amplifying the already menacing, otherworldly vibe. The result is an impressive EDM track that skillfully conveys the sense of a mind tortured by dark thoughts: “Call the doctor, take a pill. There’s no cure, the mind is ill.”

Have a listen to this brilliant song as you watch the great video she made to go with it:

Connect with BetaPSI on FacebookTwitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Deezer

ANDY K LELAND – Single Review: “Ticking Madness”

Like most singer-songwriters, Italian folk artist Andy K Leland is a poet of sorts. He pens lyrics loaded with meaning and delivered with a droll sense of humor, and expresses them through only his acoustic guitar and sparse vocals. Though he hails from the Adriatic coast of Italy, he sounds like he’s from the English Midlands, especially given his artistic moniker. In his bio, Andy – who was born Andrea Marcellini – calls himself Andrea’s “shadow-self, and the two selves fear each other.” That dichotomy is clearly evident in his songs, where his often dark, depressing lyrics sharply contrast with his simple, catchy melodies and pleasing acoustic guitar.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Andy’s sound is his quirky, off-kilter vocal style, in which he clips his words, sometimes dropping a letter or two. It all sounds charming in an off-beat sort of way, and perfectly suited to his mellow lo-fi sound. Despite his cynical, often bleak lyrics about life and relationships, his songs seem to tell us to not take life so seriously after all, or at the very least resign ourselves to life’s inevitable travails without losing our minds in the process.

Andy K Leland2

In early 2017, Andy began issuing a series of singles that were ultimately featured on his debut EP Happy Daze, which he released that September.  (You can read my review of Happy Daze here.) Keeping with his penchant for dark themes set to only an acoustic guitar, Andy’s just released a charming new single “Ticking Madness“, which dropped on December 4. Andy had this to say about the recording of the song on his Facebook page: “I’m broke as fuck and can’t handle any music recording software. Luckily, a friend of mine got me an old Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. I instantly fell in love with that machine and started fiddling around with it straightaway! Here’s what I’ve come up with. Sound quality is pretty rough, but really… who cares?! That’s love at first sight.”

Andy explained to me that the song is about time, specifically how quickly it passes (don’t I know it!)  The lyrics are pretty surrealistic, with each verse like a snapshot coming from the subconscious. They were inspired by a couple of events which happened to him over the last nine months that made him aware of how time is passing by so fast. “They kind of changed my perspective about time and… life maybe. This song is some kind of a turning point. As an artist and as a human being. I can say it’s the first time I have ever happened to write down some lyrics and be totally aware of what I really wanted to say.” Andy said he’s quite fond of this song, and I have to say I am too.

At 6.20 in the morning 
I did hear nothing 
When later on he told 
He told me he’s dead 
Now back at 4.12 pm 
I was feeling cool 
Until those stripes they spoke 
They spoke the truth, they all said 

Now you’re a man 
You’re a man 
That’s kind of crazy 
Mate c’mon don’t be lazy 
But that’s alright 
Oh no it’s not 
I love you mum XO 

Well now you are crying on my shoulder 
Feels good as the clock tower with no hands is timing out 
The graveyard of my mind 
Now how, how, how does it feel? 
Now how, how, how do you feel? 
And what will, what will I feel for you? 

Now I’m a man 
I’m a man 
That’s kind of crazy 
Things have grown so hazy 
But that’s alright 
Oh no it’s not 
I love you mum, break 

Ha-ha ha-ha 

Now fuck you all she’s my lady 
But I’m cheeky cheesy I call her baby 
And what if time goes out of mind 
Out of sight? 
Well that’s alright, well that’s alright 
Oh yeah

Follow Andy:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on:  Bandcamp / iTunes