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.
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.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.