Daily Dose: Habibi, "Stronghold"by Austin Jones
Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.
NYC’s Habibi are, in many ways, a love letter to the influences that made them—the band is grounded in garage rock, ‘60s girl-group sounds and Middle Eastern traditions, courtesy of lead singer Rahill Jamalifard’s Iranian heritage and travels. Their new album, Anywhere But Here, is out today (Feb. 14) via Muddguts, and sees the band exploring all new territory, both thematically and sonically.
The album is less concerned with love than their previous releases and more concerned with the world itself—as such, they lean in harder on Iranian music, such as Iranian wedding ululations courtesy of guest collaborator Mina Al Chokeil, and experimenting with new instruments such as the sitar and the ney. The group recognize that NYC is currently besieged much like Iran, too; the album’s name, Anywhere But Here, expresses a frustration with the sanctity (or lack thereof) of an unsafe planet.
Despite the album’s lack of love songs, today’s Daily Dose is, notably, one of the only ones present on the album. It is Valentine’s Day, after all, and it’s what Habibi (Arabic for “my love”) are so excellent at; after all, those ‘60s girl-group harmonies were, at the time, rarely used for anything other than love.
That isn’t to say a love song can’t be political. To love in a wartorn time is an act of protest. “Cupid’s arrangement got a stronghold on me,” the band harmonize. For a love song, the track is tense and nervous. Being in love, in our times, is a source of great stress, but Habibi are willing to go the lengths it takes to make romance happen. They open with, “I would move to a different sea / I would take a plane, train, whatever it would be / I would go, walking miles through the sand / I would swim ‘cross oceans till I reach your hand.” There’s something passionately strong about this sentiment—it’s declarative, a promise Habibi are making to the people they love. To defy the odds to be with the ones you love, despite living in an odyssey of terror, is the start of any good revolution.
You can check out “Stronghold” below, as well as Habibi’s upcoming West Coast tour dates and a video from their 2018 Daytrotter session.
Habibi Tour Dates:
24 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Lunchbox
25 – San Diego, Calif. @ Soda Bar
27 – Costa Mesa, Calif. @ Wayfarer
28 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Moroccan Lounge
29 – Oakland, Calif. @ Bottom of the Hill (Noise Pop Fest)
01 – Sacramento, Calif. @ Starlet Room
02 – Arcata, Calif. @ Goat Tavern
04 – Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
05 – Walla Walla, Wash. @ Billsville West
06 – Seattle, Wash. @ Barboza
07 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Fox Cabaret