The best NYC concerts and music festivals: Further ahead
Grab your tickets early for Alt-J, Neil Diamond, Belle and Sebastian and more
Photograph: Danny Payne
Last March, Future Islands ascended from best-kept-secret status to near-viral ubiquitousness with a stunning Letterman performance of new single "Seasons." Fortunately, the eccentric Baltimore synth-pop crew—whose athletic, disarmingly emotive vocalist, Samuel T. Herring, is one of the most transfixing performers on the planet—was well prepared for its close-up: Singles,the band's latest LP and 4AD debut, is a front-to-back delight. Expect this January show to sell out fast.
February's Blank Project, the first new solo work from singer-rapper Neneh Cherry in nearly two decades, is a career-reviving, stereotype-defying exercise. Moving beyond the legacy of her 1988 single "Buffalo Stance," Cherry uses the album to experiment with electronic composition and explore the soulful side of her voice, both of which will be on display at this show—amazingly, her first ever in the five boroughs.
- Price band: 2/4
British singer-songwriter Sam Smith first made a name singing on Disclosure's super catchy "Latch," and achieved pop megafame with his lovelorn debut, In the Lonely Hour. Expect more than a few cathartic sing-alongs to tunes like the ubiquitous "Stay With Me" at Smith's sure-to-sell-out MSG show.
The man with the iconic sneer (no, not Elvis), Billy Idol hits town with a new autobiography and his first LP in nearly a decade, Kings and Queens of the Underground. Dig the new material, and expect to dance in a rockin' ’80s fashion to hits like "White Wedding," "Rebel Yell" and "Hot in the City" from the former Generation X frontman.
Jack White's genius is undoubtedly bolstered by an uncompromising workaholism—evidenced by a long series of sharp side projects (The Raconteurs, the Dead Weather), collaborations (Wanda Jackson, Insane Clown Posse) and the prolific output of his Third Man label—as well a recent solo LP, Lazaretto, that handily sums up his patented roots-punk eccentricity. Hear White work his magic at this Madison Square Garden victory lap.
Los Angeles DIY pop king Ariel Pink promotes his latest weirdo, lo-fi disc, Pom Pom. With the album, Pink drops the Haunted Graffiti moniker used for his last two excellent records; the resulting LP is more raw and wiry, like a Russ Meyer romp set to four-track.
A mysteriously unmarked 7" (containing a heretofore unknown song) in Sleater-Kinney's recent career-spanning box set was all it took to get the blogosphere buzzing with reunion rumors, and days later, it was official—the band's back. The riot-grrrl torchbearers and indie-rock luminaries released their eighth LP, No Cities to Love, in January, their first in 10 years, and are playing a slew of 2015 dates, including this big one at T5. While the gig is as good as sold-out, we're keeping an eye out for more dates to be announced.
On his recent Rick Rubin–helmed albums, including his latest, Melody Road, Neil Diamond stripped away the schmaltzy layers that he accumulated over the decades, to fine effect. Though he's touring in support of that album, we're willing to bet that the singer may favor a more hits-based act at this show. Though Diamond has left the sequined shirts behind, don't bet on a fully austere Neil: to completely purge Neil Diamond of kitsch would be to steal his soul.
Leeds, England–based quartet Alt-J traffics in a distinct sound, combining clever songwriting and colorful, jazzy instrumentation with world beats and skittering drops for a quirky brand of alt pop. The band's Mercury Prize–winning debut, An Awesome Wave, made a big splash in 2012, and now the group is back with a sophomore effort, This Is All Yours.
Twee nation rejoice: Belle and Sebastian are coming to Radio City! Earlier this year, B&S singer Stuart Murdoch put out his directorial debut film, God Help the Girl, scored with the band’s music. Now Murdoch is refocusing his attention on the group that made him the envy of every wistful college student of the past two decades. Keep an eye on this gig—openers will be announced as the date approaches.
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