lost bayou ramblers mammoth Waltz. This band puts punk into Cajun music and Gordon Gano, Dr. John and Scarlett Johansson onto their album.

Label: Bayou Perdu Records
Time: 11 Tracks / 34 minutes

There’s fast and there’s fast: seven minutes into this release and you’re on the fourth song. That’s because the Lost Bayou Ramblers put punk into Cajun music. Originally, the brothers Michot (Andre on accordion and lap steel, Louis on vocals, bass and fiddle) despised the genre, seeing it as just a style to keep their old folks happy. But once they caught the way that its rhythms get people moving, they took it on and made it their own.

Anyone who doubts their authenticity and innovative spirit might want to ask how they can get guests including Dr. John, the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano, Scarlett Johansson and French actress/singer Nora Arnezeder to join in.

This collection is a mix of several traditional songs mixed with half a dozen of their own – not that it’s easy for non-specialists to tell: it’s all sung in French, often with a definite local-yokel accent. Those who can appreciate the lyrics will find original songs that range from celebrating daily life to lamenting a BP oil spill. The enormous range extends to the bookenders: opener "Le Reveil de la Louisiane" is a nineteenth-century celebration of Cajun spirit and Daniel Lanois’ ”O Marie” closes the main block, the only track not trying to race a train.

"Blues de Bernadette" puts a boogie spin on Cajun music; "Bastille," which features Gano on joint vocal and fiddle, has a definite hoe-down feel; while the danciest track is probably "Croche," a three-four time song with a hip-hop spirit that has enough space to let the programming shine through behind the accordion's riffwork.

Just as strong is “Coteau Guidry” (so nice they played it twice), the work that features Johansson and her vocal that lifts the sometimes dense sound out of the swamp. First time round, she adds backing vocals to the chorus, but on the reprise she takes lead.

If you want 21st century Cajun music, full of spirit and fun, you probably won’t get anything more impassioned than this. Its underlying respect for the genre gives it extra depth. If they come near you, catch them. They'll be a good live act.

Download: Croche, Coteau Guidry, Bastille

3 Tocks
Derek Walker

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