The Bamboos: “Avenger”

Five albums into their career, fans of the Melbourne, Australia-based Bamboos thought they had the band pegged. Since 2000, the Bamboos have traded in a retro soul/funk sound that takes its cues from James Brown and the Meters. Though they predate the neo-soul of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley by a few years, the Bamboos run in the same circles, collaborating with Aloe Blacc and New Orleans piano legend Eddie Bo.

But album number six, Fever In The Road, charts a moodier, more nocturnal course. The songs are darker, with psychedelic undertones courtesy of band leader Lance Ferguson and producer John Castle. “Avenger” sounds like the theme song to some long-lost ’60s spy thriller, with singer Ella Thompson opting for the femme fatale role. It’s still danceable, but the smoky atmosphere suggests you better watch your back.

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