Now throughout the eight-plus year history of this site, I’ve written a lot about the JOVM mainstays Bambara, and as you may recall, the trio, comprised of twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire released their Andy Chugg-produced third, full-length album Shadow on Everything through Wharf Cat Records earlier this year, and the album is a decisive new, sonic direction for the Brooklyn-based band as they moved away from the noisy punk and post-punk of their previous two albums 2013’s DREAMVIOLENCE and last year’s Swarm to incorporate a Western Gothic-inspired take on punk rock. And while the music center remains the trio’s tight and forceful rhythm section featuring Blaze Bateh’s frenzied yet incredibly metronomic drumming and Brookshire’s propulsive bass lines, unlike their previously recorded output, Shadow on Everything finds the band placing Reid Bateh’s vocals at the forefront, symbolically placing the damaged characters and seedy locales of his lyrics at center stage, and in some way it captures something wholly and uniquely — well, American.
With album single “Jose Tries to Leave,” the members of Bambara managed to retain the forceful yet nightmarish dynamism, while focusing on the lives and thoughts of desperate, fucked up, seedy sorts — with a humanistic and novelistic attention to psychological detail and empathy. “Doe-Eyed Girl,” continued in a similar vein but was imbued with a sweaty and furious urgency, fueled by a seemingly manic, desperate obsession. “Sunbleached Skulls” may arguably be among the murkiest and bleakest songs of the Brooklyn band’s growing catalog as Reid Bateh’s dark imagery centers around buzzing flies around sun-bleached bones, rotting flesh, dirt and grime paired with Brookshire’s propulsive bass, Blaze Bateh’s mathematically precise, metronomic drumming and shimmering bursts of Western guitar figures, and while the song evokes writhing about in dirt, grit and grime, underneath the bleak air and foul stenches, there’s a strange sort of peace — the sort that comes when strangers have found brief moments of companionship, tenderness and comfort in someone else, even when fleeting.
“Monument,” Shadows on Everything‘s latest single is a forceful, unrelenting and malevolent thrasher of a track, that’s centered around pent up and unfulfilled tension, obsession and questionable intent. Of course, much like album’s preceding singles Reid Bateh’s Georgia drawl sings stream of consciousness-like lyrics that at points possess a surreal and nightmarish beauty. Directed by the members of the band and filmed by Tim Ciavara, the recently released video is shot in a lush and cinematic black and white that brings Anton Corbijn to mind while emphasizing the song’s malevolent, fucked up air.