Friday 5 November 2010

There are so many Swiss Cajun/Zydeco/punk bands around at the moment that it might be the trend of 2010…well, even if that really were the case, Mama Rosin would stand out.

Whatever “it” might be, their third album, Black Robert, has it. Starting with clattering drums and the sound of a pair of Louisiana residents, it takes off through a haze of raw electric guitar, thumping accordion and some storming backbeat laid down by a thumping female drummer. But its spirit is very akin to some of those wonderful early Cajun recordings (they cite Zydeco as part of the mix, and indeed it probably is, although in those early days the difference between the two styles was more one of colour, not music).

But it’s not a studied primitivism. Instead it’s quite inspired, ridiculously vibrant, and at times surprisingly authentic (“Move Your Popo”). Purists who prefer to keep regional styles as a museum piece will hate it, but music needs to be alive and evolving. What they do blends with other things – “Bon Temps Roulet No. 3” is an unholy but gleeful marriage of New Orelans and the Velvet Underground with Amede Ardoin replacing John Cale and “Les Cuisines d’Enfer” is as raw a blues as you’re likely to hear this year. Although they’re just as home with acoustic music as electric – the banjo on “Mariniere” works superbly – energy jolts through the whole album. In a time when punk has effectively become a pejorative its real ideals live on in small bands like this who play the music of their hearts, even if it originates somewhere far from their home. It’s an album that walks up, slaps you in the face and then asks you to dance the two-step.

Albums like this and (in a completely different style and fashion) Krista Detor’s Chocolate Paper Suites are reminders that music is very much alive and still has the power to seduce. One of the best of the year. And in a better world there might well be more Swiss Cajun/Zydeco/punk bands on the street corners.

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