Released: Dec 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Banda Bacana are from sweaty, sunny Snowdonia in North Wales.
I’ll be real honest and say I am not big in Latin Afro-Carribean World Funk Fusion stuff. Or Groove as it is easier expressed. It is not that I don’t think it a valid format or style, it is generally that I find it all so very boring and self-amused as everyone pretends how much fun they are having as they prove to each other how hip they are whilst being 9-5 dull.
I expected to be over it at the end of every song but as the next starts, “oh cool, this is fun too, I’ll let it roll”. That’s how to run a party: when even people like me who want to leave end up staying for just one more song. These guys & girls have kept the focus on melodies & neat stories.
It seems the membership can float a bit with more or fewer players depending on the night (probably who is doing what and how much the client paid). The musical core seems to be a pair of horn players who are pretty tight and have a nice Jazzy delivery in the leads, bassist, guitarist/singer and singer/percussionist.
The band, it appears, grew from a dance band for Samba dancers which is perhaps why they have a pretty decent sense of tempo & timing.
At times things feel just a tiny bit flat to me, without that hitch & jump I expect Tropical music to have. It loses the “hot” feel. My other criticism is in the vocal delivery as that too feels flat. The singer has a nice voice but it doesn’t feel like the recording has found that extra bit of depth that makes a singer sound special. But not a drama really as this grows on me with each song.
“Cain and Abel” is pretty darned good all round with Middle Eastern feels dragged over for good measure. Like many of the songs, the lyric stems from taking something pretty simple and adding just a tiny twist to it. I think this lets the words work on several levels. “Love is Psychiatric” is similarly clever.
The rules for a stage show are different from a record where it is only the sound that has to do all the selling of the music. The lyrics help keep this from being simply more groovy noises and where the stories branch out it is noticed (by me at least).
I haven’t much else to say as you are enjoying this – and showing your funky footwork – or not. I’m on the this is cool side.
As expected I don’t have a ton of material in my collection to put against this as I am just not this sunny as a rule, but I’ll dig. Oz Rock band The Allniters and “D-D-D-Dance!” which spawned “Montego Bay” is the obvious choice. After that I am a bit out of obvious comparisons; Santana is too cerebral, I don’t own any UB40 and whilst I have Black Lace “Agadoo” it is only on a compilation… I do have the first Fine Young Cannibals record which has some similarities and of course who could have a party without synthesizer covers of ’50s & ’60s Rock & Roll played by the guy who signed Depeche Mode.
Oh and if you read last week’s post, you’ll be delighted to know that Banda Bacana have a website! If you like em, you can even book em – assuming you are drinking coconut rum party drinks (or at least watching Death In Paradise) in sunny North Wales.