They may be New Zealand’s best kept secret, but rootsy rock band Bonjah are Rolling Stone’s 2011 ‘Artist to Watch’. Formed in Tauranga, the band moved across the ditch in 2006 and have since supported The Who, been nominated for a clutch of APRA awards, and played at so many festivals and received so much airplay that we’d better be quick to claim them as our own.
Perhaps wrongly pigeonholed as a roots act, Bonjah sound like they’ve listened to all the best music of the past ten years, remixed it in their brains and outputted it as eleven sterling, international-sounding roots/rock/pop/soul tracks on their second album Go Go Chaos.
Swoon-worthy first song Lady Listen is guaranteed to ensure that none of the band members are at a loss for feminine company. The track sounds like the Black Keys with bongos (which is about 100 times better than that description sounds), and singer Glenn Mossop has the kind of hurt, anguished, husky and passionate voice that drives women crazy. On the next song Go Go Chaos Mossop moves into tender and forlorn territory, before tackling more ‘rootsy’ subject-matter on the next two tracks Karma and Brother. It’s a credit to Bonjah that both musically and lyrically, these potentially cringe-worthy tracks are delivered with the utmost grace. The combination of bouncy drums, depressed guitar, Mossop’s husky vocals and image-rich lyrics is a winning formula.
A more pop sensibility is evident on Sand and on the upbeat The White Line. The dramatic and almost orchestral Something We Should Know, with lyrics about personal responsibility wrapped up in metaphors of songbirds and queens, is rousing and celebratory and would be the perfect track to wake up to in the morning.
Next track Give is sexy, sexy, sexy. Mossop eschews rock posturing for intimate warmth that, in another bad analogy, makes him sound like a supremely hot and quietly confident male Janis Joplin. Final track, the uplifting Fall Together finishes all too soon and will have your finger hovering over the ‘repeat all’ button.
Their name might be a bit silly but Bonjah are the kind of band that make you proud to be a Kiwi. It’s time to start claiming these talented lads as our own.
Kathryn van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.com
Click here to listen to Give from Go Go Chaos: