I hoped a couple of things as I was listening to Lemon Bucket Orkestra‘s Lume, Lume and thinking about hearing these viscerally frenzied tunes performed in real-time: that the band starts off its shows by marching into the venue playing “Fanfare” –because I think nothing would wake up an audience more than that — and that that now-enlivened audience is encouraged to sing along to the chorus of “Nese Halya Vodu.”
In other words, I think this band would be a blast to see live. They’ve probably gotten the “Canadian Gogel Bordello” reference more than once, but the comparisons are valid: this is zealous, muscular, competent playing that keeps on pushing. A lot of these tunes are classics of the Balkan/gypsy/Jewish tradition, but these are aggressive interpretations that take unexpectedly refreshing turns. Case in point: the skittish violin break about four minutes into “Arkan-Huculka” that shows off band co-founder Mark Marczyk’s playing to great frenetic effect.
But all the players here have earned their fezzes. One thing they do really well is hold to a fast tempo (as on the accordion-fueled onslaught of “Banu-Perenita”) while still sounding in control. It never seems like things are going to go off the rails, which is worth noting because it doesn’t always happen in bands like this. The lines John Williams charms out of his clarinet on “Sina Nari” are exactly as sinuous and smooth as they should be, and they slide over the solid rhythmic underpinning like a snake drawn out of a basket. The unison vocals do the same.
My only criticism might be that the album is kind of relentless. Every tune hits you square in the face — either right away or after a breather of an introduction — and it can be kind of an onslaught to absorb all at once. This is music that’s brash and garish and “folk-everything,” as the band’s bio suggests, but if you can’t handle an entire album of that, don’t listen to one, I guess. If you are, however, looking for music by a “world balkan gypsy klezmer party-punk super-band” from Toronto, put some Lemons in a Bucket, because you’ll definitely end up with lemonade.
Lemon Bucket gained viral-video-level exposure in 2012 with an impromptu in-aircraft performance on a delayed flight to Romania. The band wisely capitalized on that visibility with more airport performances. Here is a clip from a subsequent documentary on the band called “Let’s Make Lemonade” by film-maker Justin Friesen.
zealous, muscular, competent playing that keeps on pushing. This is music that's brash and garish and "folk-everything,"