Founded in Athens, Georgia by twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh, and bassist William Brookshire, Bambara have been steadily attracting attention since the release of their 2013 debut. Earning praise from places like Pitchfork, NPR, VICE, Bandcamp, Spin, DIY, BrooklynVegan and The Quietus, and touring non-stop in the US and Europe with like-minded artists like IDLES, METZ, Girl Band and Daughters, the band released their most celebrated album to date in 2018 with Shadow On Everything, a release that NPR dubbed a “mesmerizing western, gothic opus.” Today, Bambara are announcing their follow up Stray (due out via Wharf Cat on February 14th, 2020), with the premiere of the album’s first single “Serafina” on the FADER.
A thunderous squall of a song, “Serafina” provides an arresting introduction to the album. Channelling the anarchic energy of The Birthday Party and Gun Club, in combination with Reid Blateh’s dramatic lyrical style the track imbues the story of a pair suburban misfits with apocalyptic weight. Bambara’s rhythm section rattles and bursts behind a frantic descending guitar lead as Reid, in a fraying baritone, weaves a tale set in his home state of Georgia that acknowledges the history of the place with subtle Civil War allusions, while conjuring an immediate atmosphere of backwoods unease. As Reid tells to FADER, it’s a song built to communicate an unhinged energy.
“Stray is a death-obsessed album,” says Reid. “Most of the songs are about different characters’ futile attempts at living meaningful lives under the weight of imminent annihilation. I wanted “Serafina” to feel different. I wanted the song to radiate a sort of wild-eyed hope. A youthful disregard for death itself. Serafina and Sadie live exactly how they want to live, exploring their love for one another before a backdrop of flames. The knowledge of their own mortality takes nothing from their enthusiasm for life. If anything, they see it as a challenge they might one day overcome together. When they say, “We’ll never die” I want it to feel like they might actually have a shot.”
Bambara are embarking on a UK tour that begins in Bristol at the Simple Things Festival on October 19th. Additionally, they are today announcing a Brooklyn show at St. Vitus on November 8th and a full US tour in support of the album to take place in 2020. Full details can be found below.
One thing you won’t be able to avoid on Bambara’s Stray is death. It’s everywhere and inescapable, abstract and personified. Death, however, won’t be the first thing that strikes you about the group’s fourth album. That instead will be its pulverising soundscape; by turns, vast, atmospheric, cool, broiling and at times – as on stand out tracks like “Sing Me To The Street” and “Serafina” – simply overwhelming
The album began when the band locked themselves in their windowless Brooklyn basement to write. Despite the success of their preceding full length, Shadow On Everything, Decisions were made early on to experiment with new instrumentation and song structures, even if the resulting compositions would force the band to adapt their storied live set, known for its tenacity and technical prowess. Throughout the songwriting process, the band pulled from their deep well of creative references, drawing on the likes of Leonard Cohen, Ennio Morricone, Sade, classic French noir L’Ascenseur Pour L’Echafraud, as well as Southern Gothic stalwarts Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews.