8 out of 10: A light-hearted summery triumph.
Only Mike Patton could be involved in more projects than Nicky Bomba. Amongst other activities, he’s the drummer for the new incarnation of the Jon Butler Trio, he’s the conductor of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, he’s the calypso master in Busta Mento and he’s just released his first solo album, Planet Juice.
Bomba brings all these varied musical interests to bear on Planet Juice. Inspired by a musical homecoming of sorts to the hills of Jamaica, Bomba’s Carribean heart filled to overflowing and this album is a splendid result. Given the odd assortment of musical styles for an album out of Melbourne, it’s not surprising that Dial PBS appears, a shining calypso urging your subscription to just about the only radio station that will broadcast the song in Australia.
And that’s the real tragedy: these songs are worth much wider airplay than what they’ll ever get. Anyone who has had the pleasure to see Bomba perform in any of his many guises will know of his charming, positively winsome ways, all of which rubs off on Planet Juice and makes it a delight to listen to. The songs are light-hearted, happy excursions into the musical traditions of the Caribbean. Crush on You every lovestruck male should learn by heart, and Maybe You Should Try Some should be the soundtrack to every stoner’s bong session. Perhaps the album’s biggest surprise: even what is essentially an extended drum solo, Kruptonite, is ridiculously entertaining.
Planet Juice is the perfect summer record. Lolling away the hours by the beach, mojito in hand, is the best way for this fine retreat from the heat to be heard. It’s a relaxing, joyous sparkle that should be enjoyed before autumn’s leaves obscure the sizzling summer sun.