Before They Were Cool October 2014

This New Orleans BFF duo know their way around a pop hook, as evidenced by last year’s Heza. Still, while the songs on that record were great, the band seemed indecisive, dabbling in more genres than can be found in your average indie geek’s entire vinyl collection. Musically focused and melodically mature, Alix is the album we’ve been waiting for from these guys. The band tapped veteran producer Richard Swift, who has worked with The Shins, Foxygen and Damien Jurado, and their new album’s openers, “Black Lemon” and “Gold Silver Diamond,” are like a one-two punch of joyous, sugary synth-pop that recalls vintage MGMT. We fully expect the band’s gig at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Oct 12 to be the last time they play such an intimate venue.

Mean Love
We’d like to think the musically adventurous Curtis Mayfield would have made an album with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy by now—had he not passed away way too soon back in 1999. Surreal as it might sound, Ahmed Gallab (aka Sinkane) comes pretty damn close to realizing such a sonic dream on his new album, Mean Love. Lead single, “How We Be” sounds like it could have been lifted right off the Superfly soundtrack, complete with “Freddie’s Dead”-esque flute hooks and foreboding bass lines. But the Ohio-raised, Brooklyn-based Sinkane does more than channel 70s r&b. “Moonstruck” sounds like it was recorded around a Hawaiian bonfire and there are smooth pedal steel guitar licks on “Mean Love” and “Galley Boys,” arguably making them the greatest country music ballads ever recorded by a Sudanese immigrant. We can’t wait to see what else this guy’s got up his sleeve when he plays Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on Oct 5.

Zola Jesus
To see a live show from indie diva Nika Roza Danilova is some kind of ethereal experience akin to the musical theatrics we’ve come to expect from performers like Lady Gaga and Florence & The Machine. But Danilova, who works under the name Zola Jesus, strips away all the superfluous pomp so that the audience’s focus is exactly where is should be: On her majestic voice. Listening to the Wisconsin-raised singer it’s easy to see why she initially wanted to be an in operas. While her music has been morose and even goth-y in the past, Taiga is a pop record filled with danceable synths and boisterous choruses. Moreover, she’s on a bigger label now (Mute Records, the label that broke artists like M83 and Yeasayer). Her mainstream popularity is bound to increase, in the meantime check out that live show on Oct 19 when she plays Webster Hall.