Minotaurs play the Tranzac January 26. See listings. Rating: NNN
Minotaurs' combination of Afrobeat and indie rock works far better than it should. At times you're tempted to dismiss them as a watered-down Fela Kuti tribute, but the pop vocals take things in a different enough direction to escape that trap. In fact, the less authentic they try to be, the more the concept succeeds.
A protest theme plays through most of the album's lyrics, in the spirit of their Afrobeat influences, but it's not so didactic that you feel you're being preached at.
On the downside, New Believers could benefit from some editing and second-guessing. While the intriguing blues experiments on Minotaurs' last album, The Thing, showed great potential, this time around that concept pulls them uncomfortably close to jam band territory. Similarly, the occasional references to reggae rhythms don't work nearly as well as when they just borrow some of the dub production techniques.
Top track: Strange Fire