As promised, here’s a full review of the upcoming album from The Bamboos on Tru Thoughts: Rawville. The album will be available from all good retail stores on 7th May, just over a year after they released their debut album Step It Up. Rawville features twelve tracks that span a total of just over 48 minutes – each staying true to the Bamboos’ patented funk sound, but with a few twists this time round.
Things kick off with The Bamboos Theme, a four minute long, exhilarating entree to the proceedings. It’s high energy stuff, crammed with melody and fast paced beats. The culmination of different instrumentation, intertwined and fused within one-another, makes for quite an intro. Straight after comes the first guest appearance, Tru Thoughts queen-bee Alice Russell on Bring It Home. On this track we see the funk sounds of The Bamboos combine with the soulful tones of Alice Russell to create an extremely addictive and melodic track that wouldn’t be out of place somewhere in the back-catalogue of any famous old-time funk soul combination – alas with the unique, and very modern, grit of these highly talented individuals.
Last week I featured the first 7″ release from this album Get In The Scene feat. Ohmega Watts and that track is actually number three on Rawville. Like I said in that feature, this track is an upbeat affair, with a fantastic blend of funky guitar, brass and wood along with the smooth and dynamic flow of Ohmega Watts. The track has a very laid back air about it, but manages to maintain the upbeat groove, perfect summer time track really. The next track is one of the main reasons I purchased The Witch by The Broken Keys on 12″, it’s the Bamboos’ very own remix! Those that know the original track will know what to expect, but for those that don’t… The Witch is a heavy track with a killer bassline and The Bamboos have worked their magic with an all instrumental version with that distinctive Bamboos funk sound.
My Baby’s Cheating (I Sure Got The Feeling) feat. Fallon Williams sees the third use of a guest vocalist on the album thus far. Fallon lends his gravelly, yet deeply soulful, voice to a track that rides along the crest of a Hammond organ wave whilst carving it up around the sharp brass stabs. I can just tell that performed live this would really get a party started – I defy you to sit still whilst this one is playing! Now switching slightly further into the soul realm we have I Don’t Wanna Stop feat. Kylie Auldist – think roughly along the lines of the latest Amy Winehouse material, but perhaps in a more optimistic vein. This reeks of 60s soul, laced with brass and keys, chirpy melodies and genuinely authentic and silky vocals from Kylie Auldist. This will appeal to anyone from casual pop-picker right up to dedicated soul enthusiast – very accessible stuff indeed.
Still on the soul tip Head In The Clouds feat. Tyra Hammond sees the variation in sounds visit heavier beats and slightly darker melodies. This track in particular really expresses how The Bamboos are moving with their sound, the subtle blend of styles and sounds – in particular the heavy beat matched with the soulful vocal, where the track breaks down and builds again. Like the last track it is accessible to anyone, but if you are wanting to look deeper, there definitely are details there to be found. It’s these intricacies that fascinate me most, how upon first impressions things can seem simple enough, but if the right efforts are applied, then so much more can be discovered. Listen for yourself…
Happy is a track that has been previously released on 7″, it’s dark, it’s instrumental, and it’s bloody infectious! A steady funk beat starts, joined by a tentative bass and some cool keys, slowly building and teasing. It’s quite tense in an upbeat kind of way, then half way in *boom* the brass crashes the party… but it’s still building, it eventuates into an organ crescendo of blaxploitation proportions, then back into that steady chorus before a crazy percussion breakdown. Huge replayablity factor with this one and sure to get a funk crowd moving – class. Then we are graced with the second appearance of Ohmega Watts on Rockin’ It. Essentially it is Ohmega, a steady beat, groovy bass and some brass stabs – but melodically speaking this is fresh, like something Ugly Duckling might look to achieve if they played with a live funk band.
Pussy Footin’ was on the same 7″ as Happy and is another instrumental track oozing with class. Along similar lines as Happy, Pussy Footin’ is not as dark, but as equally focused on the progressive nature of building melodies. Stacked chock full of groove, armed with crazy keys, deep bass and an atmosphere that was resurrected from somewhere in the 70s. The penultimate track on the album is actually the title track: Rawville. It’s an instrumental track that beautifully marries the organ and the brass, with percussion and bass playing their parts as groomsmen and bridesmaids respectively. The enter a cameo from guitar and you’re left with what would appear to be the soundtrack to a million different funky situations. The final track is Tongan Steel, which funnily enough does have some pretty mean drumming going on. This is as groovy and catchy as can be expected, The Bamboos excel in this area, it’s no secret. Tongan Steel proves to be a good outro piece, with its consistent melody and tight instrumentation – just another example of what sharp talents these fellas are.
Rawville says a few different things to me, I’ll condense and conclude these thoughts thus; I’m satisfied, personally, that the guys are progressing their sound by furthering themselves with how they create their music. This is evident via the collaborations seen on this album and the sounds presented. The Bamboos have proved that they can indeed create funky tracks that are also soulful and match their skills wisely with vocalists, and also an emcee in the shape of Ohmega Watts. Albeit too easy to type cast a funk outfit and pressure them into experimenting, I feel that they’ve pushed the boundaries without losing touch with their roots. They’re as funky as ever and it was good to hear as many instrumental tracks as tracks featuring vocalists. This album will definitely help to attract new fans, but I’m sure will also please the already existing fanbase.
EDIT: Forgot to mention some live dates for The Bamboos as they are on tour very soon…
* Fri 04 May ’07 Derry
* Wed 09 May ’07 Dundee
* Fri 11 May ’07 Plymouth
* Sat 12 May ’07 Newquay
* Tue 15 May ’07 London
* Wed 16 May ’07 Birmingham
* Thu 17 May ’07 Southampton
* Thu 24 May ’07 Berlin
* Sat 26 May ’07 Kortrijk
For more details check out the gigs page on the Tru Thoughts website: http://www.tru-thoughts.co.uk/gigs