When the NY Times placed Tal National's Kaani on their year-end Top 10 list, the Culture Minister of Niger organized a televised ceremony to honor the band. But it didn't stop there. The Guardian, The Independent, Mojo, Vice, The Wire, The Financial Times, Chicago Reader and others all sang exuberant praises. NPR, KEXP and WBEZ hosted live sessions. What they all recognized was the band's entirely new approach to West African music - that Tal National is a rock band. Well, sort of.The songs on Zoy Zoy are a mix of traditionals and originals, and they are intense. They are extraordinarily sophisticated. The band speak French, but use the expression "very rock and roll" quite seriously, implying their awareness that the loud guitars and bewildering rhythmic complexity separates them from their peers. They are proud that their members represent the different cultural groups of Niger, some of which haven't always been on the best of terms (the group includes Tuareg, Hausa, Fulani, and Zarma). Still, they are aware that Western ears may not fully grasp their self-proclaimed "rock" label, and we sure don't know many rock bands that keep folks dancing in a trance-like state for 5 hours at a time.