written by Chris Familton
The pervasive winds of nostalgia are blowing stronger than ever across pop music and electronica yet they haven’t subjected guitar music to quite the same blatant level of shallow regeneration. Indie and rock music is always recycling and self-referencing itself of course but it takes a great band to be able to bottle the mood and atmosphere of another time. Sydney’s Bambino Koresh take on that challenge and for the most part the results are impressive and rewarding.
The sound and style of Bambino Koresh is comprised of an obvious passion, even worship, of 70s country rock in the vein of Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival where the guitars crackle under the weight of wandering electric solos and the melancholic sigh of slide guitar. They match that influence with a strong 90s indie rock and power pop sound, straight from the songbooks of The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom and Juliana Hatfield. These comparisons are somewhat expected, if not unavoidable as bassist Tom Morgan was a songwriting partner to Evan Dando at the peak of The Lemonheads success.
Up And Left opens with the brilliant sway of Freesoul that introduces singer/guitarist Leticia Nischang’s sweet/bittersweet vocals that have that relaxed and carefree delivery that that the likes of Juliana Hatfield and Liz Phair possessed. Morgan adds some magical backing vocals to the song, setting it up as an album opener of the finest order. If the rest of the record was as good as this it would be exceptional.
Terracotta Warrior tightens things up with a snappy yet still relatively poppy approach. The Young guitar influence emerges and there is even some of Nischang’s Argentinian/Spanish strut and flair buried in the song’s DNA. It conjures up images of doomed romance and shootouts on the Mexican border, almost Morricone-esque. Crop Circles continues the jagged edges, building into an almost metal pastiche chorus, showing that Bambino Koresh aren’t above fun and frivolity in their music.
If So Defacto is soaked in 50s doo-wop filtered through The Band and it features Nischang’s strongest vocal performance on the LP. She convinces with her swooning serenade that employs ache and pain to just the right degree when it needs to. It is quite a different feel to most of Up And Left but it works wonderfully. Nischang uses the following track Campbell to showcase her guitar skills with a Crazy Horse styled second half of the song and like the best moments of that band it feels like it could on for another 10 minutes, winding and weaving with casual six string abandon.
The weaker moments on the record come in the form of the fairly disposable The System Tells that feels like a last minute addition and Sleeping in Pain that is missing a key ingredient to make any real emotional connection to the song. There is of course redemption and plenty of it elsewhere with the Sleater Kinney sounding Red Spot Always Meant Sale and one of the album highlights What I’m Gonna Do Now that again features Nischang and Morgan duetting. Their voices work so well it is surprising they don’t sing together more often.
As a debut album Up And Left is an impressive collection of songs showing range and ambition and a loving dedication to their record collections with enough of the trio’s personality to make it sound fresh and invigorating. Bambino Koresh will make you want to take their CD on a road trip, they’ll make you reminisce about college rock in the 90s and they’ll make you want to dance with a beer in your hand. The most enjoyable kind of nostalgia.
this review was first published on FasterLouder