It did not take me too long to figure out that I would like The Bamboos. After hearing the elixir of funk laid throughout their amazing album Medicine Man, the question “what’s not to love?” best summarized what has become the band’s international coming out party.
Formed 12 years ago, the Australian outfit released their first four records as they climbed up the indie chain and gradually etched their reputation as a burgeoning deep funk band. Their fifth album, Medicine Man, was released in June and is fronted by several different singers, but the real centerpiece of the record is the band itself. The perfect blend of the music and energy of Fitz and the Tantrums, Dap Kings-like horn, and the pop-savvy lyrics of Mayer Hawthorne, the Bamboos embody the best of contemporary soul music.
After opening with a softer track from Aloe Blacc, The Bamboos turn up the funk of Medicine Man with Kylie Auldist’s “What I Know.” After getting hooked in with Lance Ferguson’s slick guitar rift, the track is made by a driving beat and a full horn section as the band hones in on one its liveliest songs. The upbeat style of “What I Know” returns later in the album with another Auldist-based song, “Cut Me Down,” which also shows off Ferguson’s deftness with the guitar as he bridges the song with his best part on the album.
Aside from Ferguson, the other member of The Bamboos who really shines on Medicine Man is drummer Graeme Pogson. The band’s fourth drummer, Pogsin excels at keeping a relentless yet eclectic pop beat throughout the record.
Of all the guest singers brought onto Medicine Man, You Am I front man Tim Rogers owns the track “I Got Burned,” the best song on the record and one of the more infectious pop songs of the year. Rogers delivers the track perfectly, adding in a dash of flair for good measure as he delivers the verse, “ ’cause I feel like I’m walking on fire/when we talk smoke its coming out of my head/and I’m breaking down like a strong man burning over you.”
Other key tracks include Ella Thompson’s “Medicine Man” and a very Fitz-like “The Wilhelm Scream.”
Medicine Man is available as a two-piece vinyl, cd, and digital download. The Bamboos are currently touring Oceania.