Shadowclub - Big Green Mamba Dream (Review)
Shadowclub, a blues rock band from Johannesburg, released their third album, ‘Big Green Mamba Dream’, on 30 November 2018. A follow up to their 2011 debut album, ‘Guns and Money’ and 2013 album, ‘Goodbye Wild Child’. Shadowclub has been a band for the last 10 years and have played all over South Africa, headlining multiple festivals and have toured to Russia, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia.
Shadowclub is a band with one of the most distinguishable sounds out there. From Jacques’s vocals and guitar tone, Louis’s bass feel and Isaac’s drum patterns you can easily identify if one of their songs come on over the radio or a playlist. Why I bring this up is, from the first note to the last it feels uniquely like a Shadowclub album but there is something special to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. There is definitely a familiarity to the music and the music, the music is good. ‘Small Town School Yard’ starts the album off with a riff that has a menacing feeling to it. It’s followed with a song that has you grooving as soon as the drums kick in. The song is the shortest song on the album but it packs quite punch. Nothing feels unresolved and the song ends with everything fading out to be interrupted by a bass that brings the song to a definite end. The leading single to ‘Big Green Mamba Dream’ is ‘Witches Soul’ and I remember the first time I heard it, I didn’t quite get a feel for the song, I could hear that with some context it would be one of my favourites and on the release the context was made very, very clear. The song is one of the focus points of the album and it brings a sense of adventure. This song is one I can see on multiple road trip playlists for years to come. The song is extremely catchy and will have you singing the chorus over and over with a skip in your step. The song has very interesting parts to it, from the intro to the little lead parts in the breaks that bring the verses and choruses to the forefront. A song that keeps catching me off guard on my playthroughs of the album is ‘Intergalactic Hook Up’. A surprisingly emotional love song, that has some of the prettiest guitar work to go along with lyrics of a lover on his way to a significant other. The bass and drum work just expands on all the emotional weight of the track. This song is the first of the longer songs of the album but although it has a play time of five minutes and twenty seconds it rushes by, demanding multiple listens to hear all the little nuances. ‘Dog Teeth’ has to be my favourite song on ‘Big Green Mamba Dream’. It’s a powerful song that has one of the most captivating opening lines. A song that is deliberately restrained for most of the track and has some of the most haunting backing vocals in the choruses. ‘Dog Teeth’ shows off how Shadowclub can play between their harder and softer moments. They make these moments compliment each other exquisitely. “I’m on a roller-coaster, Coming out of Childhood Heaven. I’ve got the only way to save the day From bad beginnings.” With the last song on the ‘Big Green Mamba Dream’ being ‘Emhctac’ you almost expect some back-masking to happen going on the title alone. In the song you are met with quite an eerie piece of music where it seems to have some back-masking going on. I would love to figure out what is going on in this part but this is followed by an extremely smooth jazz-esque song that bring the album to a steady close. The instrumentation of this track is subtle but it sits well as an outro where it makes you forget about the odd piece of music that precedes it. It’s the perfect ending to this powerful album.
‘Big Green Mamba Dream’ was recorded in three days (this still astonishes me) at Kill City Blues and was mixed by Isaac. This album has some fantastic moments in it where you wonder how these three men always seem to nail what they are going for. Shadowclub have gotten back together to give us a masterfully executed album. A rekindling that leads you through an album that has something special to it. Multiple playthroughs only improves the power of this album and it’s definitely an instant classic for the South African music market.