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“Ukiyo” is the new Two Hicks One Cityman album, out april 12: a colourful explosion between synthpop, indie rock and funk

26A series of colored straight lines that converge in a single central vanishing point, like stylized skyscrapers that get lost in an invisible horizon. If there’s an image that can describe the second album by mantuan band Two Hicks One Cityman is its cover (the artwork is edited by Marco Bresciani and Elia Capitani), out Friday, April 12 for the new sicilian label Nesc’i Dischi by Lorenzo D’Antoni. Following the successful debut Lonely Nights (2017), Ukiyo resumes the sound instances of the early times to broaden, and greatly, the range of action. We could almost say that each of the eight songs in the tracklist is a single story, because the expressive freedom of the trio is remarkable.

The trio is composed by still young musicians, but already with a story behind them: Alessandro Castagnoli (vocals, guitar and synth) has played in the Dustcloak, semi-finalists at the Controradio Rock Contest in 2011; Giorgio Caiazzo (drums) and Alessandro played together in the Quarter Past One, another band that at the turn of the years Zero and Ten made itself known to the public and the insiders. Francesco Zaniboni (bass, choirs and vocals) complete the line-up.

Once closed the previous experiences, the group has launched a new adventure, Two Hicks One Cityman, of which Ukiyo is the second chapter in studio. “This term – they explain – has two meanings. First of all, it’s a Japanese artistic movement whose most famous work is The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the painter Hokusai. Secondly, it’s a common word in Japan that indicates a fluctuating and inconsistent world that deviates from the Buddhist cycle of death and rebirth. We have made it our own in a different sense: the ability to feel at peace despite adversity. We believe it corresponds to our mood during the long working process of the record”.

In terms of style, Ukiyo is a treasure chest full of surprises. The sound roots sink in funk and soul, and in this sense Funk # 88 represents a bridge with the (recent) past of the lombard band. One piece after another, however, we enter into new worlds and in particular in a clear Eighties synthpop scenario. “We have ‘discovered’ synths and we tried to identify ourselves in sound for us unexplored. From our point of view it is a small turning point, as the attitude has changed a lot compared to previous works, as regards both composition and execution. We felt the desire and the need to create a more refined work, thought in every detail, unlike the old songs more based on instinct and live attitude”.

Here the sound walls become synthetic, the keyboards stand side by side with the guitars and the rhythm section, the beating heart of the project, pushes the accelerator exactly as it happens during the concerts, the ideal situation for the three musicians. Just listen to episodes like Marineo and Somebody Just Like You – the latter with the saxophone of Dario Acerboni, from The Lemon Squeezers – to understand where Two Hicks One Cityman arrived and how accurate is the search for the right melody, of catchy but still fresh solutions. The lightheartedness of I Wanna Something recalls the imminent spring days. The delicate soul of Let The Music Play temporarily settles in the Seventies. The wonderful Love The Vibe is a proof of style that only Phoenix would have conceived in a similar way.

There is also a collaboration with the band Tin Woodman, that put a little bit of healthy madness inside What If I. And then there is Until Dawn, a track that starts from a riff recalling The War On Drugs. Here perhaps we can recognize the new soul of Two Hicks One Cityman, a perfect balance between synthetic sounds and indie rock, between funk and soul, among all these ingredients mixed in a unique and recognizable sound. “We are satisfied with the result, because it represents our curious approach and the desire not to stand still in one place”. Ukiyo is all of this, the end and the beginning of a journey. Fasten your seatbelts, let’s start.

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