These days, it seems like every hamlet in America has it’s own local Afrobeat band, mashing up the Fela Kuti legacy with some sort of local spin–or not. In Brooklyn, it’s been hard to look beyond the now-legendary Antibalas, the core of which served as the stage band for the Broadway production of Fela! But these days, Brooklyn feet are moving to a new groove from Zongo Junction. Founded in 2009 by California-born drummer Charles Ferguson after a year in Ghana, Zongo Junction brings youthful, urban American sensibilities to the brassy Afrobeat sound.
The group’s second release, The Van That Got Away, is now out as a digital release, with a vinyl 7-inch of release of the title track. The instrumental track sizzles with energy. It builds around a tasty weave of clean electric guitar work–strummy, tuneful and irresistibly intertwined with the band’s fine rhythm section. There’s a veneer of electronic music subtly worked into the mix. When the brass hits, you feel it in your gut. The midsection of the song drifts into a sparse dream space, but gives up none of the track’s rhythmic propulsion. And the brassy recapitulation is a satisfying payoff. Promising stuff from a band to be reckoned with.