French reggae band The Banyans started in 2010 and dropped their strong debut album Steppin’ Forward in 2013. Now they return with another solid roots effort, and this one is even better than its predecessor. It might have to do with their intense touring schedule – more than 400 shows under their belt – or maybe the new members have improved songwriting and harmonies.
For Better Days… collects 13 tracks and includes collaborations with reggae luminaries Johnny Osbourne and Big Youth along with rising star Maranto. The set carries the spirit of vintage Jamaican roots reggae from the mid-70s with bright horns and a few dubby effects. The bass and the drums are tight. The sound is militant, yet harmonious, and the lyrics are positive with a conscious approach.
It’s easy to get caught in the beat and the infectious melodies stick like glue, and this make The Banyans one of the best European roots reggae bands of today.
In the teaser promotional video for The Banyans debut album Steppin’ Forward a number of acclaimed Jamaican musicians and artists are praising the band and wishing them luck. And they obviously know what they’re talking about, because The Banyans has put out a mature set heavily influenced by Jamaican 70’s roots and albums by Bob Marley and Burning Spear.
This six piece French band has played more than 300 shows in the past five years and shared stages with Aswad, The Wailers, Anthony B, U Roy and Clinton Fearon among many more. And it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing.
The organ is blistering, the guitar is sharp, but not dominate. The vocal is lively, the horn section – courtesy of guest musicians – is vital and the riddim section trudges on driving the beat forward like a bulldozer. Just listen to the closing track Dreamer where the bass is pulsating making the blood almost boil over.
I’ve previously written about the thriving and vibrating French reggae scene with roots warriors such as Dub Inc, Donkey Jaw Bone, Rockers Disciples, Postive Roots Band, Danakil and Tu Shung Peng. These bands have just been challenged by a highly-skilled newcomer. Bring it on.