Afrobeta: Under the Streets

Afrobeta: Under the Streets
In its salad days, Miami’s legendary club scene was home to bands like KC and the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, and Gloria Estafan and the Miami Sound Machine. Disco eventually gave way to Miami bass and freestyle in the 80s and 90s and now, Miami is the home to the Winter Music Conference, the largest dance event in the world. For four decades, Miami has been on the cutting edge of dance music so to be a band playing dance music from Miami you have to be pretty good. Afrobeta tries to earn their place in Miami lineage with their debut album, Under the Streets.
It is easy to see how Afrobeta might fit into that lineage. The dance duo encorporates traditional songwriting into genres that typically go for something much more repetitive like disco, electro-pop, and even a little dubstep. The album’s first single, “Nighttime” opens with ambient Euro piano before adding a dubstep-style wobble bass line. Over this, lead singer Cuci Amador adds a wispy melody that seems to go directly against the foreboding bass below her. The sweet sung vocals finally break in the bridge where Amador employ a more sassy, semi-rap vocal-style that reminds me of something between CSS and Lady Sovereign. This vocal style continues to a full on rap verse later in the song. What is most interesting about the song is that stylistically it evolves throughout the song but that seems to be the band’s M.O.
The band’s latest single, “Play House” features more wobble bass over a more traditional dance beat. What sets the song apart from “Nighttime” is the verse vocal remind me of Lucious Jackson‘s “Naked Eye” while the chorus vocals sound like something from The Ting Tings. As the vocals wear on more production is added to them giving them a bouncing phaser effect and some added distortion. These production techniques are something often seen in remixes but rarely in the original songs. It is an interesting approach from a band that has obviously come up listening to a lot of remixes.
But every song sounding like a remix ends up being a little much on Under the Streets. If the album had just employed one dance production technique and stuck with it, it might have helped listeners gain their footing. Instead the album is like looking up “remix” on hypemachine and then playing the top 13 results. It’s a wide and varied album but perhaps just a little too wide and varied.
Rating: 5.7/10
MP3: Afrobeta “Play House”
Buy: iTunes