2012 was a huge year for the Bamboos with the release of the ‘Medicine Man’ album. It culminated an Aria Australian Album Top-10, iTunes R&B/Soul Chart #1, a sold-out nationwide tour, breakthrough to commercial airplay, three Aria nominations (Best Live Act, Best Urban Release & Best Independent Album) and inclusions in the Triple J Hottest 100.
For Bamboos bandleader, producer and main songwriter Lance Ferguson the focus has always been on a musical progression; “I always want to make a better record, a different record. I never want to walk out of the studio on the last mixing day and not be thinking 'This IS the best thing we've ever done'. The Bamboos had their roots in certain genres but now it's been blown wide open. Now it feels like we can go in many directions...our direction...”
Their latest album “Fever in the Road” was co-produced by Aria-nominated studio wizard John Castle whose work with the likes of Washington, Josh Pyke and Kate Miller-Heidke has ranked him amongst the first-call producers in Australia.
“This album is built upon a foundation of people playing live in the studio. Though we heavily layered it up with strings, synths, extra guitars, organs etc etc - it has that throbbing heart underpinning it. The players we have in the band make this the best line-up we've EVER had. I really wanted to make sure we allowed the spirit of that to come through in the recording process...”
The new record sees Castle and Ferguson venturing into sonic landscapes the Bamboos have previously touched on but never fully inhabited. There is a sense that the music is leaner and more muscular, yet upon closer inspection the tracks reveal themselves to be densely multi-layered in a 'Wall Of Sound' style. The darker shades have been achieved by stacking parts upon parts upon parts. The songs career from the wondrously anthemic ('Avenger', The Truth', 'Rats', 'Jump My Train') , to the wildly psychedelic ('Looking West', 'Harbinger') and the darkly fragile ('Killing Jar', 'Before I Go').
Never strangers to guest appearances in the studio and on stage (read: Aloe Blacc, Washington, Daniel Merriweather, Tim Rogers, Lyrics Born, Alice Russell etc etc) The Bamboos have eschewed this approach on 'Fever In The Road', with regular singers Kylie Auldist and Ella Thompson contributing to all 11 tracks on the record.
And what they do on 'Fever In the Road' is take their sound to a place where musical risk-taking collides with the assuredness that can only come after more than a decade in the game. Amid a glut of revivalists re-treading the retro waters The Bamboos have carved out a signature sound that embraces classic and current influences whilst weaving them into something altogether brand new.
For lovers of Beck, The Go! Team, Tame Impala, The Heavy, Stereolab, Alabama Shakes, Metronomy.