This week writers came back from the holiday break ready to play. From David Denby unloading in the New Yorker, to John Jeremiah Sullivan working a mention of the Fruit Jar Guzzlers into a Paris Review piece, Robert Christgau beating his breast over Das Racist's breakup and an examination of the visuals of extreme music, there wasn't a lot of taking it easy. Lucky you.
Antibalas was founded in 1998 by baritone sax player Martin Perna (far right, in hat) and is fronted by singer-percussionist Amayo (center, in head wrap). The group has seen many lineup changes in its decade and a half together.
Years ago, without setting out to do so, the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas jumped out ahead of the pop-culture curve in two ways. First, geography: The band was formed in Brooklyn in the 1990s, before the New York borough became the mecca of independent music that it is today. Second, the music itself: Afrobeat makes its way into lots of popular music today, but Antibalas was doing it before it had a mainstream foothold.