The Budos Band is one of the foremost U.S.-based Afrobeat groups performing today. It is no surprise that their third album, simply titled III, takes the listener on a funky journey that will please not only long-time listeners but also those new to the genre. The record’s initial Eyptian theme is deceiving; each of the song titles appears to reference the serpent that graces the cover, but this is just a superficial coincidence. The Budos Band lays it out in their humorous “making of the album” video: titles of the songs just come to them, spur-of-the-moment.

 

This thinking-on-your-feet momentum is elemental to both the band’s live performances and their recordings. III was recorded live, and it is all of the polished chaos that you would expect from a band this funky. The Budos Band is from Staten Island, but you’d never know that their city of origin is better known for hip-hop and tasty Italian food than African funk music. They originally formed as an offshoot of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, and sound rather similar, but not identical. The songs are shorter and more to the point, but they have that same fantastic bounce.

The brass is the highlight here, but everyone else (there are nine members!) holds their own. This comes across to you, the listener, in the form of an irresistable urge to just get up and move. The whole album is fluid, more like one long song broken up in several parts. The songs snake upwards and downwards, from the classic Afrobeat vibe of “Black Venom,” to the epic downbeat groove of “Nature’s Wrath,” to the bass-heavy Rhodes-laden “Crimson Skies,” and ends with Western wa-wa peddle sounds of “Reppirt Yad,” their cover of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper.” The voyage that III takes you on is so graceful, and the band shows such expertise in its musical genre, that it is hard to question the perfection of this afrobeat experience.

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