Sterbus is the pseudonimo for Emanuele Sterbini and Dominique D’Avanzo, who though hailing from Rome have been making something of a splash in the UK experimental scene. Well, mostly the Cardiacs/Tim Smith and affectionate friends scene. And if that wasn’t excuse enough to seek them out, last year saw the release of Real Estate/Fake Inverno (summer/winter – OK, the puns work better in Italian), a tremendous, trippy, and intelligent double album of Pronk-ish experimentation and glorious alt-pop from the Apennine Peninsula. Don’t just take my word for it, the record has drawn a string of positive reviews and features guest appearances from Bob Leith (Cardiacs), Charlie Cawood (Lost Crowns, Knifeworld), Nick Prol (Nick Prol and the Proletarians) amongst a whole host of talented folks. Sterbus are just glorious, so now reader, not only do you get a chance to hear them for yourself, but also those artists that have been Emanuele’s influences…
WILLIAM D DRAKE – REVERE REACH (2015)
Emanuele: Everybody knows that Sing to God by Cardiacs is the best album made by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Just the perfect blend of genius, song writing, goosebumps on an exhilarating giant scale. Absolutely recommended! William D Drake played keyboards with them Cardiacs and started a solo career that provided many beautiful albums: Revere Reach from 2015 is the one that Dominique and I love the most… Piano ballads, beautiful arrangements with clarinet, piano, hurdy-gurdy., theremin, haunting female backing vocals… some pieces are filled with beauty, melancholic yet joyous, stuff that can fill your heart and have you believe that maybe, in the end, living is an okay thing. We opened for him in Rome in 2015, and that has been one of our favourite moments. He also was going to guest on our album but in the end we didn’t find the time to do it. Maybe in the future!
WEEZER – PINKERTON (1996)
Emanuele: Weezer in certain circles could be a band that makes most of people scratch their heads, probably due to their over-exposure on MTV and things that have not much to do with music… Rivers Cuomo continues to write almost an album a year, and just this should make us understand that he CARES about writing songs and his artistic output, he doesn’t just wait 5 years between every release that in the end tends to be crappy anyway. However, back to the top: Pinkerton is a top notch album in every possible way, even if nobody liked when it came out. The production is great, drums are huge, and you really feel like you’re in the room with them. And the song writing is very good too, if you analyse it: probably the only album where they tried funny chord changes, weird structures, even the odd rhythm here and there, and it all flows flawlessly in a very uplifting way.
OF MONTREAL – HISSING FAUNA, ARE YOU THE DESTROYER? (2007)
Emanuele: Now we have another guy who I think is one of the best songwriters around now, Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal, band active since the late nineties… They made a lot of albums, starting with a very 60s psychedelic vein and then evolving in every style possible… this album from 2007 captures joy, sadness, melancholy and a struggle to rise above all things that could get in your way in life, and they do it in an artistic and uncompromising way. Every album is a different beast, and this one was a perfect mix of power-pop and ballads also with electronic elements! And in this case too we’re talking about someone that’s able to manage every chord and every harmony that’s around in the ether!
PROCOL HARUM – GRAND HOTEL (1972)
Emanuele: This is a choice that goes a little back in time. After all I grew up listening to all the classics from the 60s and 70s! King Crimson, Jethro Tull, The Beatles, Lucio Battisti… This album, that nobody probably cares about in this day and age, was a massive success at the time and one can see why, super arrangements for choir and orchestra, very emotive songs, deep and built to provoke big feelings… when you’re 14 you’re not there (just like for Zappa) thinking “hey, this is too baroque, that’s too funny, I can like this, what will my friends tell me?” you just enjoy it and let it slip under your skin. This is a perfect record and everybody should know about it!