The Bamboos have always gotten a lot of love from me and I expect a lot when they have a new release. Fever in the Road hits on all cylinders and for those new to The Bamboos, they are an Australian funk/soul band that has miraculously managed to do more than simply survive, they have thrived doing what they love. Even with the resurgence in the genre, it is impressive to release a sixth full-length album. It isn’t just luck that got them here, it is talent and love on a colossal scale.
Mastermind, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Lance Ferguson has maintained a musical vision that many have attempted but few pull off. The ingredients are your standard funk fueled horn section, a power rhythm section and honey-dipped female vocalists. Over the years guest vocalists were common, but on Fever in the Road they stick with Ella Thompson and Kylie Auldist, both incredibly talented vocalists who take turns elevating the music to ever-greater heights.
When I first heard The Bamboos early in their genesis, they came off, quite successfully, as a bunch of people who just love playing the old style soul that their fathers loved. They were a solid band having the time of their lives and you bought into that when you listened. You want to get up and dance, you have to smile. I figured they had two albums in them before people got tired of paying for basically the same album, a common problem for bands. The Bamboos never settled into that place however, they kept moving forward, powered by the vision of Ferguson.
Each album further removed the band and its music from the” just having fun” feeling, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, the music matured organically. Fever in the Road is a near perfect dance/soul/pop melding with infectious tracks that make it impossible not to dance. It is fantastic music, which makes you feel fantastic.
Avenger is the first single and it is wonderfully catchy and poppy with a driving rhythm that propels it forward. Helpless Blues is bounced along by a mean bass line and Rats carries you away on a barrage of funky horn blats. The album flows seamlessly to its conclusion with Looking West, a dreamy slow grind that bops along on its organ beat and backing horns.
I am pleased to say The Bamboos are heavy supporters of vinyl and I happily gave the double LP a spin. The small price to step up to the vinyl was well worth it and includes a downloadable MP3 copy. The recording is spacious with instruments and vocal placement well defined in the soundstage. Backing instruments and percussion swirl around the melody playfully on the LP but were less focused and sometimes lost on the MP3. If you are anything less than an OCD controlled audiophile, the digital version will have you bopping along just fine.
If it isn’t clear, I have a major crush on this band and their album 4 has been among my most played albums ever. Fever in the Road is now going to be getting that rotation when I need the funky dance bop to get me through the day. Fever in the Road is currently not available from any US retailers but you can order it directly from the Bamboos website as I did. If you must wait, they promise not only an American release late fall 13 or early 14 but also a US tour. If they come anywhere near Austin I will be at the stage. Do yourself a favor and grab Fever in the Road as soon as possible, I promise it will make you feel better no matter what ails you.