Music

Elikeh: Between 2 Worlds

This Afropop band from DC keeps it lively and conscious on its third album release, but needs more of an edge.


Elikeh

Between 2 Worlds

Label: Azalea City
US Release Date: 2012-07-15
UK Release Date: 2012-07-28
Amazon
iTunes

Elikeh is one of those bands that seems improbable: an Afropop band with three members from West Africa (Togo, Nigeria, Benin) and four from the U.S., heavily influenced by Bob Marley as well as many African artists, centered in Washington D.C. What is even more improbable is that they actually make it all work as well as they do. Between 2 Worlds, Elikeh's third album, brings all their disparate influences together in a danceable, croonable, lovable collection. It kicks off with the loping "No Vision", a track that splits the difference between just about everything they do. While the band grooves along in 12/8 time, singer Serge Massama Dogo lectures a certain "Mr. President": "You lead as you are told / You do as you are told / The train of history is leaving without you." It seems to be directed at Togo's president Faure Gnassingbé, the newest representative of a dictatorship that has lasted almost 40 decades ... but it really doesn't matter, as the message is universal, especially when Frank Martins unveils his lovely guitar solo.

As a band, Elikeh is quite flexible. The bubbling Afrobeat "Know Who You Are" scoots along on its funky organ groove, punctuated by staccato hits from the horn section. "Eh wee" follows a similar template, but with more of a hybridized sound, sounding (to my ears) like a very Parisian take on Afrobeat. "Let Them Talk" is a hot remake of a song by Geraldo Pino, a pioneering singer from Sierra Leone who helped to influence Fela Kuti himself.

Elikeh is flexible enough to welcome in some canny guests. On "Nye’n Mind Na Wo" the co-lead vocal is provided by jam-band mainstay John Kadlecik, with an additional kora overlay by Mamadou Cherif Soumano. This track, nice as it is, is blown out of the water by Vieux Farka Toure's guest guitar stompage on "Alonye", spraying Malian blues notes all over the universe. See, THAT is how it is done.

Unfortunately, Dogo's approach does not always match his subjects. "Foot Soldier" is a cunning little African reggae jam with a nice swingy horn line, but it has about as much edge as a bowling ball, and makes almost no impact whatsoever. Closer "Nye Dji," a gentle folksong, ends things with a whimper instead of a bang, although it probably hits harder for those who speak Mina. Similarly, "Fly to the Sky" just kind of sits there on the record, not lovely enough to justify its passive rhythm. Elikeh clearly has enough ability and talent to really make the difference it clearly wants to make. But this will never happen until the group gets a bit more urgent ... or at least dig a little deeper. Wanna change the world – or bridge the gap between two worlds? Gotta draw some blood.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image