Australia's top soul band release their tenth studio LP full of socially conscious danceable grooves
A most welcome discovery for me recently has been Australian band The Bamboos, though I'm somewhat shocked to discover they've been making sweet and funky soul music for the best part of 20 years! Oh well, at least there's a wealth of back catalogue to dive into. The Melbourne-based band are set to release Hard Up this week. It's their tenth studio album and is guaranteed to satisfy long-time fans and no doubt win over a few new ones too.
Hard Up saddles the line between retro and contemporary, and as you'd expect from a nine-piece revue-style band there's plenty going on to keep your interest - punchy horn lines, tasteful guitar and keys, and that all important locked-in drum and bass groove. Soul music is nothing without a great singer though, and thankfully fronting The Bamboos is the phenomenal Kylie Auldist. Equally adept at providing powerhouse vocals as she is at delivering those requiring sensitivity. Check out the contrasting styles between the version of Black Box's 'Ride On Time' and the soft and sensitive 'I Just Heard You Leaving'.
Thematically the album touches on universal daily struggles ('Hard Up'), and tips its hat at the kind of politically aware soul that Curtis Mayfield may have penned ('Power Without Greed'). It's a rallying cry for justice that moves feet as well as minds, and has a pretty neat flute solo. The album is as much about good times as it is about hard times however and there's an ultimately up-lifting good-time vibe throughout.
The record also features some great guest vocal appearances - Sydney-based singer Ev Jones on 'While You Sleep'; LA-based Joey Dosik channels Smokey Robinson on 'It's All Gonna Be OK'; and rising US star Durand Jones guests on 'If Not Now (Then When)', a track that harks back to classic sixties style soul.
Alongside the great vocals, the band, centred around founding member Lance Ferguson are on top form. Check out funky Meters-style instrumental 'Wishbone' should you need proof. The album was recording in a week of sessions just prior to last year's Melbourne lockdown. Hard Up is an irresistible affair that warrants repeat plays at an ever increasing volume. Neighbours you have been warned!
Click here for the band's website