February is always a strong month for music in New Orleans. The allure of Mardi Gras intersects with bands who get an early start on the spring touring season to make for what is generally a solid month of excellent music. This year is no exception. The month opens on the 1st with one of the strongest acts to come through town so far this year: Zola Jesus, the stage name of Nika Roza Danilova, will bring her brand of experimental rock and electronica to Republic. Danilova is an eclectic performer with a wide range of influences. Her sultry live performances never fail to move the audience. Her style combined with the relative intimacy of Republic should make for an excellent evening of music.

On the lighter side, coming through town are two bands known for their playful and often humorous live performances. On Feb. 7, the Boston alt rock ensemble Guster will play the House of Blues. Guster has been releasing excellent albums since the late 1990s, and their recent release, Evermotion, is no exception. Make sure to arrive early for this show as the incomparable Kishi Bashi (otherwise known as Kaoru Ishibashi) will be the opening act. Ishibashi’s high-energy pop and virtuosic violin playing are the perfect start to this excellent evening of entertainment. Just a few days later, on Feb. 10, Robyn Hitchcock will be at One Eyed Jacks. Hitchcock is a legend of the UK singer-songwriter scene whose quirky lyrics and musical stories are immediately engrossing.

On Feb. 6, Less than Jake and Reel Big Fish will be bringing their long-standing and excellent ska performance styles to Southport Hall. For those of us who came of age during the ska era, this will be an excellent night of nostalgia. Both bands have large catalogues of horn-heavy tunes that will all but force you to dance.

For something a bit more introspective, The Dodos will bring their distinctive guitar and harmony driven sound to Gasa Gasa on Feb. 20. The band will be touring on their excellent new release, Individ. This will be a great chance to get close to these amazing musicians as they build their unique sound.

Finally, for a night with a bit more of a country sensibility, Ryan Bingham and Lucero will be playing Tipitina’s on Feb. 28. Bingham came to prominence in 2009 when he collaborated with T-Bone Burnett on the soundtrack for Crazy Heart. The Memphis band Lucero will be accompanying Bingham with their modern reimagining of the quintessential Memphis sound.

Note: Dates are subject to change. Playlist of mentioned bands available at: bit.ly/InTune2-15.


Experiments and Harmony

For something more experimental, two outstanding bands on the experimental sound scene will be coming through town this month as well. First, Pharmakon (the stage name of Margaret Chardiet) will be playing Siberia on Feb. 4. While experimental, her music is mathematically precise and her live performances mirror this precision. In the small space of Siberia you’ll want earplugs, but the experience will be well worth it. Second, A Place to Bury Strangers will be playing Gasa Gasa on Feb. 25. While you’ll find more harmony here than at the Pharmakon show, look for a symphony of reverb accompanying Oliver Ackermann’s vocal stylings.


To contact Mike about music news, upcoming performances and recordings, email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.