SPIN (Charles Aaron)
from”The 100 greatest bands you’ve (probably) never heard” AFTERHOURS With 1997’s Hai paura del buio? (Are you afraid of the dark?) these raging, brooding, crooning alt-rockers recorded what was considered Italy’s counterpart to Nevermind. They later collaborated and toured with Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer/Gutter Twin Greg Dulli.
KERRANG! (Daniel Lukes)
Debonair Italian alt-rockers seduce NYC It’s no coincidence Milan sextet Afterhours, who take their name from a Velvet Underground song, are playing as their intro tape The Afghan Whigs’ 1996 masterpiece “Black Love”: after being inspired by the too much missed alt-rockers for years, Afterhours got to work with ex-‘Whigs/Twilight Singers master mind Gred Dulli on their 2005 album “Ballate per piccole iene” (and its English-language version “Ballads for little hyenas”) and, like the ‘Whigs before them, Afterhours have class to sell. Opening with a simple “Ciao. Ciao a tutti” from crimson skirted frontman Manuel Agnelli to this intimate downtown venue packed tonight with Italian ex-pats, the band launch into the sumptuous, heart-rending rock that has made them stars in Italy, though little known elsewhere. Agnelli diplays the rugged voice and weary soul of a man who’s been around the block, at times recalling Mark Lanegan, who the band have also collaborated with, as he and his compagni rock with robust swagger and snarling pop sensitivity, as well as a touch of humor, like when he dedicates the song “The thin white line” to “our friend Kate Moss”, though of course it’s the Italian language hits that get the biggest applause. There is no language barrier: Afterhours are a world class act. Rating: KKKK
POPMATTERS (Michael Keefe)
Brooding but also explosive, Afterhours combine the sweeping, elegiac tones of Tindersticks, the near-metallic roar of The Stooges, and Jeff Buckley’s penchant for heady anthems. Or, try this on: The Cult, but with bouts of depression. One more: Soundgarden, but with brains and beauty (instead of just the brawn)…. At the center of this group’s musical identity is lead singer Manuel Agnelli, Afterhours’ principle songwriter and powerful vocalist. …Agnelli himself is a ferocious guitarist, equally adept at laying into hard rockin’ riffs as he is at tearing out post-punk shards of sound. Along with this core line-up, Dulli (him again!) lends the bad yet another hand by sitting in on most tracks, several of which credit him as co-author. Still, while Dulli helped mold much of the material on Ballads for Little Hyenas, there’s little question that it is the band’s intense passion and artistic mind meld which make this album so totally awesome. Agnelli’s lyrics are both sumptuous and razor-edged. This is from the album’s quasi-title track, “Ballad for my Little Hyena”: “On your patch of ground / Small hyenas prowl / It is just expedience / That keeps the sun going / Round and round”. These lovely lines are from the cello-grooving “Desire Froze Here”: “Pantomime / Is your tragedy / It’s a thin line between your sorrow / And your cunning”. …Afterhours had been rocking since 1988….Just thinking about that meaty back catalog makes me salivate and cackle like a little hyena. Rating: 8 out of 10
AMPLIFIER MAGAZINE (Jeff Terich)
…At times dark,often abrasive,and extremely intense,Ballads is a unique album that pairs lyrics about the weaknesses and shortcoming of humanity with sinister grooves and haunting melodic rock….Their recorded output wasn’t widely available for purchase outside of their home country. That’s all about to change.
EXPRESS, A PUBLICATION OF THE WASHINGTON POST
Right on Time: Afterhours Manuel Agnelli was in his hotel in Austin, Texas, last week, waiting for his band, Afterhours, to make its debut performance later that night at the annual zoo/party known as the SXSW music festival. The Milan, Italy-based band arrived the day before, and the musicians wandered around the Mardi Gras-crazy streets of Austin, taking some brief cell-phone videos that they posted to Afterhours’ MySpace page. But when asked what stood out to him the most about this rock ‘n’ roll bacchanal, it wasn’t the music so much as the wonderful excess of it all. “The main thing that really hit me yesterday, is if you have a wristband, and you get into certain places, they give you food and drinks for free. That’s like nowhere else in the world, man,” Agnelli laughed. Something else that’s unique is Afterhours, which has spent the last 18 years becoming one of Italy’s biggest rock bands, singing in their native tongue. While Afterhours flirted with the Anglophone world early in its career — its first album is in English — the Italian group decided to stick to its own language because, Agnelli said, “The scene in Italy was growing really fast at the time, and we felt part of something new and changing. There’s nothing as exciting as that. Being just another rock ‘n’ roll band is great — but being part of something changing in your own country is even more exciting. “And singing in Italian in rock music — I think it’s strange for you, but it’s strange for us as well. We had a new feel to explore, with the language as well. I don’t want to be pretentious — sorry about that,” he laughed. “It was really natural for me to try and sing in English, if you write in English. But it’s my second language. I haven’t got the credibility to do that as far out as I do in Italian,” Agnelli said. “Italian is my language, and I do what I want. If I want to try something strange with the words — games and blah, blah, blah — I can, because it’s my language, and I can say what I want. But English has always been different for me because you can try to say something strange, and you can say, ‘We don’t say that. It’s wrong.’ That’s why we decided to sing in Italian, too — to acquire more personality, in a way.” Perhaps because it is so common now for Italian rock bands to sing in Italian — and be successful at it within their country — Afterhours decided to switch things up and record an English-language version of its latest album, “Ballads for Little Hyenas” (One Little Indian). (There’s also an Italian-language edition of the album.) The other reason Afterhours wrote in English is because Agnelli’s American soul brother, Twilight Singers/Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli, decided the band was too good to be heard by Italians alone. “He was pushing really hard to get us out of Italy,” Agnelli said. “He said we weren’t sounding like anyone else and we had to try and do something outside of our country.” Dulli and Agnelli met when The Twilight Singers and Afterhours played a tour of Italy together, and the two got along like a villa on fire. “The main thing, he respects our music,” Agnelli said of Dulli. “In fact, we consider him part of our band. We try to play with him as often as we can.” And Agnelli returns the favor as often as possible, too, sitting in with The Twilight Singers as their keyboardist. “Ballads for Little Hyenas” was not only produced by Dulli, he also received numerous writing credits. “He brought tons of ideas, riffs, arrangements,” Agnelli said. “And he was helping a lot with the singing as well at first.” It’s no wonder the two clicked so well: Afterhours’ music and Dulli’s various projects share the same love of raw soul-rock power. Agnelli cited bands such as The Pixies, The Replacements, Husker Du and Wall of Voodoo as early inspirations for Afterhours, but at this point in the band’s career it has developed its own sound. “Ballads for Little Hyenas” is accomplished not just for the epically rocking songs, edgy melodies and Agnelli’s distinctive and husky rasp of a voice, but also for the fact that the English-language lyrics don’t sound clunky. While Agnelli speaks English exceedingly well, he said writing lyrics in it is a whole ‘nother football match. “We were writing in English and writing in Italian at the same time,” Agnelli said of the songwriting process for both versions of “Ballads for Little Hyenas.” “And I was trying to translate the lyrics from English to Italian, and it didn’t work. And I tried the other way around, and it didn’t work either. So I asked Greg and [PJ Harvey collaborator] John Parrish and a few friends of mine to help me with the process, but it didn’t work in the end. I had to rewrite the songs in Italian completely in a different way — from zero.” The writing process for “Ballads for Little Hyenas” was difficult at times, but a highly enjoyable one for Agnelli. “I was always being the author of the lyrics 100 percent” on Afterhours’ Italian CDs, he said, “so it was a new thing for me to collaborate with Greg and John — a really, really great thing. A new thing, once again.” The other new thing Agnelli was referring to is the fresh faces and ears who have been opened up to Afterhours’ music because of the band’s decision to record in English. “We found that the American audience is ready and willing to listen to something they don’t know,” he said. “It’s completely different from Europe, where trends are the thing. If you’re not really trendy, you’re not working.” And he doesn’t mind that Afterhours is, after 18 years, essentially starting over. “It’s great. It’s to be new again, to be young again,” Agnelli laughed. “At the same time, we have our ass safe at home. We don’t risk too much. But playing in Italy, in front of an audience that knows everything about us, was becoming a bit routine — and heavy at the same time. Italy is a very small country, so you’re playing the same old places over and over again. And even if it goes very well, it’s like a golden cage in a way. To play the Mecca of rock ‘n’ roll, and finding a new audience, even a small one, is fantastic.”
CINCINNATI CITY BEAT (Sean Rhiney)
Afterhours play Rock& Roll with equal nods to classic indie rock and progressive rock sound more typified by contemporary Italian artists. Imagine Blue Oyster Cult with the jagged , moody lyricism of Leonard Cohen and you’re getting close. Sung both in English and Italian, the music is grunge –laden , guitar-layered with atmosferic folk pop touches that make for an intriguing listen and an even better live show. What makes the mix even more fun are Afterhours’enigmatic frontman Manuel Agnelli,and multi-instrumentalists Enrico Gabrielli and Dario Ciffo, who trash about on violin,sax and clarinet throughout. Last fall during a support gig Columbus, Ohio., with Dulli’s Twilight Singers, the band won over an early, lukewarm crowd with sweaty determination and a flair for the dramatic . Their live take on Hyenas’ “White Widow” was Mesmerizing…
DAILY LOCAL NEWS PHILADELPHIA (Danny Daygroff)
…Afterhours is finally ready to start its quest of conquering America