Review: Rum Jungle

Tom Moorcroft puts on his headphones and listens to an exciting band from Newcastle, Australia.

Tom Moorcroft
8th June 2020
Newcastle: home to sunny beaches, beautiful skies and weather to die for. Oh no, not Newcastle, England. I’m talking about the Newcastle from the land down under. Although temperature-wise they’re as far apart as possible, both places have the same vibrant, passionate music scene which hosts up-and-coming talents. One act, ‘Rum Jungle’, is testament to this movement.

The Australian 4 piece are spreading alternative reggae-rock across the world, with some of their favourite tracks ‘Keep’, ‘I See Red’ and ‘The Void’, available for streaming now. I’m not normally one for the ‘reggae’ scene, but after listening I can see that their reggae roots, with a hint of indie-pop, is a recipe for easy listening.

So, let’s dive into some tracks…

The first song I was introduced to, ‘Keep’, is an inherently mellow tune, taking stylistic inspiration from the likes of Alt-J. A nice groovy bass, coupled with a soothing melodic guitar throughout, is an ideal combination to merge the swing of reggae with the vibes of indie. It’s a guaranteed foot tapper, with the song climaxing in a heavy yet rich blend of emphatic vocals and strong chords.

Another song which sparked my interest would be ‘I See Red’. It seems to start with a conventional, off-beat funk guitar style, which one would expect of the reggae genre, but slowly combines with a variety of genres rather hard to pin down.

It merges with rock, with a strong bass and guitar chord combo, but then dabbles in the alternative with sweeping guitar melodies and rural vocals.

It’s a really interesting track, and the ease in which they move from one groove to another is commendable.

The final song I’ll highlight, ‘The Void’, is a more conventional indie anthem, taking all the conventions of the genre (smooth vocals, a nice sprinkling of solo guitar throughout), and mixing in elements of reggae, with the bass and drums keeping that classic groove. It’s simple yet effective, a nice relaxing tune which, whilst contrasting the aforementioned ‘I See Red’, only goes to show their diversity.

You can check out all the songs mentioned, and discover more, here!

I actually managed to chat with the band through the power of the internet, to talk lockdown, inspirations and the future.

Source: Rum Jungle
How have you, as a band, adapted to the current climate? Are you still recording/collaborating with each other online?

So we had a bunch of shows booked and just as the first one was coming up all of the restrictions came in and meant we had to cancel everything. It's been crazy, and we're sad to not be able to play live, but it's meant we've been able to work heaps more on tunes which is something we have less time for because we spend so much of our time rehearsing for the gigs. When it was full on lock down we were sending ideas and voice memos back and forth and came up with a few tunes, but restrictions eased kind of quickly for us so it didn't feel like a long time apart. It's a big win though, because while we had nothing else to do we ended up with loads more tracks on top of the dozens of others we've had in the works. Another big win was it gave me the chance to set up a tiny home studio to smash out demos too

Why do you think more people should be listening to reggae inspired music?

Reggae tunes just always have those feel good vibes and get the head bob going. With everything that's happening some good vibes can come in handy.

Which musical acts inspire you? If you could pick an artist/band to go on tour with, who would it be and why?

There's so many acts and so much music that gives us inspo. From Australia we've been heavily getting around Lime Cordiale, who have so many feel good tracks as well. The absolute classic Bob Marley, that I've been getting heaps into while lockdown's been on.

There's too many to name. But big acts from the UK, like Arctic Monkeys and Catfish and the Bottlemen, we've been listening to for years. I've been listening to so much Amy Winehouse as well and a few of the new ones I'm writing are going a way that's heavily inspired from her.

We'd love to tour with the Lime Cordiale lads, seem like they'd be such good content on the road and their tunes are just top notch. We've also got our close mates The Shang from Sydney with a similar vibe to us who I would tour with anytime, anywhere.

Do you have any upcoming album/single releases?

We just released a single 'Keep' and we're heading back into the studio, hopefully at the end of the month, to get two more done to release asap. We have so many tunes we love and want to share it's just a matter of finding time to record and working around restrictions.

How would you describe your band in 3 words?

Sun and Smoke

To keep up to date on their whereabouts, you can check out their socials here!

With an interesting and enjoyable style, Rum Jungle are a band which you should definitely keep your eye on. They’re definitely more than welcome in our Newcastle any time!

Featured image source: Rum Jungle

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AUTHOR: Tom Moorcroft
Head of Sport for The Courier. Current 3rd year English Literature and History student. Love writing about sports/music, playing the guitar and Everton FC!

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