Throughout the course of this nine-plus year history of this site, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering long-time JOVM mainstays Bambara. Last year, the Brooklyn-based trio — brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire — released their critically applauded third, full-length album Shadow on Everything. Sonically, the album’s material was a decisive and new direction for the band: the material found the band moving away from the noise rock and punk rock of their previously released material — 2013’s DREAMVIOLENCE and 2017’s Swarm — to incorporate a more Western Gothic-inspired take on punk rock and while still centered on their tight and forceful rhythm section, the album had the band place Reid Bateh’s vocals at the forefront, symbolically placing the damaged characters and seedy locales of his lyrics on center stage. And in some way, it captures something wholly and uniquely American.
While Shadow on Everything was constructed around one central narrative with each of its songs sort of functioning like chapters in a novel, the band’s fourth album Stray, which is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wharf Cat Records, plays more like a short story collection, featuring a group of inter-related characters, set in the band’s native Georgia. Interestingly, Stray’s second and latest single is the slow-burning David Lynch soundtrack-like “Sing Me to the Street.” The brooding and meditative song features an atmospheric arrangement of shimmering and swirling synths, a sinuous baseline, Blaze Bateh’s metronomic drumming. Interestingly, while continuing a run of material centered around Reid Bateh’s moody and dramatic baritone, Palberta’s Ani Ivry-Block and Public Practice’s Drew Citron’s harmonies serve as an ethereal counterpart, giving a brief glimpse of gorgeousness through the gloom. Many of the Stray’s characters are named, like the album’s hard charging and explosive “Serafina” but as the band’s Reid Bateh explains in press notes, he used a different approach for “Sing Me to the Street,” ‘”Sing me to the Street’ is about loneliness, isolation, and the dreamy allure of chaos. The song follows an unnamed character wandering the streets of a vast city that feels both alive and abandoned, as he attempts to silence the persistent song of oblivion singing in his head.”
Co-directed by Will Hart and Bambara, the recently released video for “Sing Me to the Street” was filmed by Will Hart, and the video captures and evokes the loneliness and unease of an enormous city at night — and it does in a way that feels indebted to film noir and French New Wave cinema.