||There comes a time in every band when their sound crystallises, and with '4', The Bamboos make a succinct musical statement that distills all their influences, nuances and idiosyncrasies and pushes them into a sonic world all their own.
The Bamboos have been championed by Mark Lamarr (BBC Radio 2), Craig Charles, (BBC 6Music), Kenny Dope and Keb Darge, and are widely acknowledged as one of the best and tightest live bands on the planet. They are up there with Sharon Jones' Dap Kings in the danceability, authenticity and cool stakes and - oh ok, if you insist we go there - bandleader Lance Ferguson (aka production wunderkind Lanu) more than rivals your Mark Ronsons in the categories of 'busiest man in funk' and 'crossover cover version genius'…not to mention that all important tie-breaker, 'pop star looks'. Their version of Kings Of Leon's "King Of The Rodeo" last year scored the XFM 'X-Posure Hot One' accolade, BBC 6Music daytime play, and nearly 150,000 YouTube hits.
The Bamboos' knack for attention-grabbing videos and irresistible singles continues with the first single from '4': "On The Sly" featuring Kylie Auldist (out Feb '10) has already amassed over 5,000 YouTube hits in its first couple of weeks, revealing a demand for this song that is bound to see it gracing the most high profile of playlists.
Exploding out of the deep funk/soul scene of the early 2000s, The Bamboos have since cultivated a unique signature sound which takes all the heavy elements of the style and blends it with a catchy pop sensibility and a healthy respect for the classic song form. "The Bamboos' music has never been limited to this 'Deep Funk' scene. I've always aimed for the music to stand up on its own free of any labels", says Ferguson. Indeed, The Bamboos have been testing their music alongside the best in the business, making the transition over the last few years to playing large-scale festivals - worlds away from the small club funk nights where they got their start. "It's important that we can come out and play to a big festival crowd after a rock band and be judged on our own merits. It's all about the songs, and if the songs stand up then the crowd will be on your side…"
The Bamboos delight in infusing the tight, instrumental dancefloor style they have so expertly nailed with Motown, Mod and Northern soul to straight-up, ballsy, vocal funk sass and whatever is rocking Ferguson's perennially curious musical sensibility. And '4' brings to the table elements of rock, pop, psychedelia and hip hop, heralding another twist in their sonic path. It is soul and funk music for today, not mired in over-the-top adherence to simply copying what has been done many times before. "It's 2010. Just because The Bamboos have come out of the funk scene doesn't make our music any less modern or more retro than the music I hear people making in the indie, folk or electro scenes."
Bamboos vocalist Kylie Auldist's work on this album could truly be described as virtuoso, especially on tracks such as "On The Sly", huge live number "The Ghost" - in which she really changes up the vocal style range-wise and shows us she's got many more tricks up her sleeve - and the hard-hitting track "Keep Me In Mind", that sees Kylie delivering possibly her best ever recorded vocal performance on a chorus hook that is equal parts gospel soul and hip hop. Other vocalists also add a major degree of excitement: adored US rapper Lyrics Born features on the party funk number, "Turn It Up", and the incredibly catchy, fresh and unique "You Ain't No Good" features the mysterious and reclusive Tongan, King Merc, more of whom may become known when this tracks drops as the second single, later in 2010. The brooding guitar figure, '60s soul drums and reverbed-out claps come across like the mutant love child of Phil Spector and Gnarls Barkley - setting up King Merc's soul-drenched vocal like a rough mounting for a fine stone.
'4' is one of the most exciting, original, vibrant and downright addictive albums of the coming year, and could easily see The Bamboos catapulted beyond the confines of a genre to permeate the international mainstream musical consciousness
…The Bamboos have arrived!