Album Reviews: Medicine Man - The Bamboos

The Bamboos latest album, their seventh studio release, takes off where the last one, 4 left off... If you have heard the Melbourne group's other material there aren't any massive surprises here - Medicine Man is another collection of seventies inspired funk songs.

Of course it coming from the Tru Thoughts stable the whole thing smacks of quality. A collection of seventies inspired funk songs this may be, but it's never anything less than fab. The laid back opener 'Where Does The Time Go, featuring Aloe Blacc, is a middle-aged record of disorientation and the first single. It's a fitting intro and it highlights The Bamboos' strength - sophisticated playing and an understated touch that means these songs come forward exactly when they need to and only just as much as is ever required.

There are grittier blues funk numbers like 'What I Know', with just enough spit and sawdust on the vocal to make the whole thing shine when Kylie Auldist's voice really breaks free. Daniel Merriweather features amongst the stuttering drums and deep bass of 'I Never', whilst 'I Got Burned' is packed with bluesy guitar melody, brass, strings and a damaged male falsetto from Tim Rogers.

A cover version of James Blake's 'The Wilhelm Scream' is something of a revelation, coming just three tracks in and proving to be not only a credit to the band but also Blake's songwriting. Free of the latter's clicks and rumbling bass it stands up, the strings and gentle guitar licks a fine substitute as the record builds to its conclusion.

It would be hard not to love the Bamboos. This is well played funk and soul that is just crying out for some rotation on your barbecue playlist this summer.

Medicine Man is released via Tru Thoughts on Monday, available for pre-order from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Stream Medicine Man on Spotify below [account required]:

Album Review: 4 - The Bamboos

4 is The Bamboos' sixth studio album and on it they largely keep to their existing template of making funk and soul.

And they do it well. Really well.

4 quickly flits between cinematic funk and glorious soul as the mood takes it but the songwriting, playing and production are consistently inspiring.

Sassy opener 'On The Sly' and, later on, 'Kings Cross', both sound like they should be on a Steven Soderbergh soundtrack from David Holmes whilst 'Turn It Up' (featuring vocals from Lyrics Born) would be right at home in a Guy Richie flick. Elsewhere 'Up On The Hill' adds an Oriental vibe yet retains enough snap in the rhythm that it adds a crucial diversity to proceedings rather than breaking the flow of the album.

One listen to 4 and it is clear The Bamboos are not only the real deal but they are onto something. This is an album that manages to do new things yet sounds timeless. Once the rousing soul of 'Keep Me In Mind' kicks in it is obvious that this record really deserves to do great things this year.

BP x

4 is released on Tru Thoughts on 29 March 2010, available for pre-order from on CD [affiliate link].