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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

APHRODESIA

By Tom Pryor
Published September 22, 2005

Frontlines
Full Cut

Aphrodesia, the Bay Area’s premier Afrobeat outfit, return with a fresh blast of Fela Kuti-inspired funk with their sophomore release, Frontlines. For those unfamiliar with the band, some have called them the Left Coast answer to Brooklyn’s own Antibalas. But while that’s high praise indeed, it doesn’t quite capture Aphrodesia’s unique sound, which owes as much to singer Lara Maykovich’s extensive studies in West Africa as it does to bassist Ezra Gale’s digging through old crates of African records. On Frontlines, the band is tighter and more polished than ever, with the rhythm section laying down a relentlessly percussive groove that Tony Allen himself would be proud of. The horn section, too, really comes into its own on this record, alternating between aggressive charts and gutbucket solos. Meanwhile, Maykovich puts across the always politically-charged lyrics with both sweetness and the occasional snarl. Standout cuts include “Progression/ Destruction,” “Mr. President” and a cover of Fela’s classic “No Agreement.”