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Australia Reveals Its Funky Side

The Bamboos' members display an impressive understanding of soul history.
The Bamboos' members display an impressive understanding of soul history.

Anyone playing word-association games with "Australia" isn't likely to call out "funk" -- "kangaroos," maybe, or "didgeridoos" -- but The Bamboos ought to go a long way toward changing the continent's image, at least from a musical standpoint.

The Bamboos' Step It Up, a debut album full of deep and soulful funk, recalls old-school New Orleans-style jams from The Meters, Allen Toussaint, or The Neville Brothers. A mostly instrumental collection, the disc showcases an agreeably tight band with an impressive sense of soul history.

One of several Bamboos tracks to feature guest vocalist Alice Russell, "Step It Up" builds off a raw, heavy groove, with enough energy to move just about anyone to dance. As difficult to ignore as it is to hear while remaining motionless, "Step It Up" opens the door to an exciting world of funk Down Under.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at . He is also KEXP's assistant program director.