Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This music (mostly) would fit right in to a juke joint in the early 1900s or a honky tonk or dance hall in 2018. Lost Bayou Ramblers are true to their roots but still are able to move the needle forward. There is definitely some very nice electronic production work on this album. Not too much, just enough to remind us that it is in fact 2018 and not 1905. I don’t want to forget about the mix or the sound quality. Both are absolutely perfect. You may not know if it is there, but you will certainly realize it if it isn’t. In this case, it’s in there.
Lost Bayou Ramblers (LBR) are not new comers to the music scene. On they contrary, LBR was formed in 1999 by Andre and Louis Michot. These brothers got their musical chops years earlier when they performed with Les Frères Michot, the family band started by their dad and uncle. That is where the brothers learned the traditional Cajun songs and, I guess, when the fuse to push it as far forward as possible was first lit.
Freetown Crawl / Fightin’ville Brawl (Track 4) is 100% Cajundustrial. I just coined that expression. At least I think I did. This is a blender full of French spoken word, EDM, Cajun, and industrial. That emulsion is completely incorporated. It’s hard to determine where the EDM ends and the Cajun begins. It’s not possible to readily identify any element on its own. These pillars have been fused and reformed. This song is some serious high quality noise. And that’s a compliment, in case you weren’t sure.
Contrast the previous track with Cote Clair Waltz (Track 2), which is as close to traditional Cajun as you can get. This song has it all, fiddles, accordions, and French lyrics. This IS The Bayou. It is not hard to imagine people dancing to this in an open air dance hall on a Saturday night. I can see all the dancers sashaying to and fro to the fine, fine music. Hell, I ‘m doing it now.
Another song that seems to cling tightly to tradition is the severely catchy Rice Pump (Track 6). Not only is this song infectious, it effervesces brilliance. I don’t understand the lyrics since they are in French/Cajun and I don’t speak or understand those languages. But it really doesn’t matter. The groove speaks to all languages and the emotion of this song manages to shine through brightly. Again, language has little to do with the two aforementioned aspects.
Kalenda is not just the best of both worlds, it is the best of about four worlds that I can think of, off the top of my head. Completely groovy and riff friendly. These cats can play their tales off and they know a thing or two about making an album. Kalenda is proof positive.