Secret William is a three-piece band hailing from San Jose, California. They recently released a follow up to their 2012 EP Blue entitled Black Bamboo. Black Bamboo consists of five pop songs that have some influence from blues, surf rock and alternative. They recorded the album by themselves and it does suffer from some slight production issues. Some of the songs don’t sound consistent with one another while some of the individual songs might benefit from a little sheen. Despite these issues they deliver some solid songs and a diverse palette.
They start with “Black Bamboo” which is a short instrumental piece with a strong jazz foundation. The bass line was funky, while the vibraphone had a nice touch. I also liked the drums except the kick drum was so prominent in the mix it was distracting. “It is What it is “ takes a classic rock riff to deliver one of the better songs on the EP. The song creates a 60’s vibe with organ, guitar tone, as well as the overall structure. Another solid song was “Stray Dog” which was one of the catchiest songs on the EP. It is a mellow song - the music reminded me a bit of Real Estate. It should also be mentioned that they played off of each other well in this song as can be heard in the last thirty seconds of the song. The organ, bass, guitar and drums work very well together making for some attractive grooves. “Surf & Turf” was a bit confusing. It was all over the place. You have a surf song that sometimes implements funky slap bass that you might hear from Les Claypool as well as a section that breaks down into jazz. Things get back on track with the closer “Tough Love.” It is arguably the best song on the album as it provides a good melody with a decent vocal performance.
This EP is pretty scattered yet has some good songs. Secret William attempts a number of different styles and creates an unbalanced experience. Despite this they have a couple of solid songs that make Black Bamboo worth checking out.
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