The Bama Lamas’ blast of soulful, grungy garage growl | WBEZ
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Jim DeRogatis

A blast of soulful, grungy garage growl

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“The kind of raunch you can feel deep down in your soul,” the Chicago sextet the Bama Lamas promise in their bio, and these veterans of local garage grunge deliver in spades on their new D.I.Y. album Going Up?

These boys are not reinventing the wheel, but neither are they slaves to the dusties they clearly devour and worship. “Our love for scratchy R&B, soul, and rock ’n’ roll 45’s brought us together—became our blueprint for saving our sorry souls,” they also note. “The records that make you want to jump out of your skin and hit the dance floor happy just to be alive!”

That intense desire to live in the moment—and to make it as joyful and out of control as possible, in the timeless dance-your-butt-off way—puts the fez-sporting group in the proud tradition of the mighty Flesthtones. Witness the undeniable yawp of the guitar, piano, sax, and rhythm section grooves on build-your-own-dance-craze anthems such as (Do) the Hurt,” “(Do) the Crab,” and “Monkey Bump.” But my favorite track here is the gloriously stoopid, mostly instrumental “Sambuca.”

No, the anise-flavored Italian liqueur doesn’t have the same power for the systematic derangement of the senses as the distilled nectar of the blue agave. But I do believe that at long last a band has musically equalled the Champs’ timeless 1958 classic “Tequila,” and I think even Pee Wee Herman would agree.

The Bama Lamas host the 10th anniversary of the Big C Jamboree rockabilly open mic at Martyr’s at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.

The Bama Lamas, Going Up?

Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.

Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

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