Music

Rock in Rio USA: 5 acts to catch at Vegas’ newest festival

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Annie Zaleski
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      Saints of Valory (May 8, 3:30 p.m.)

      Who: An Austin-based modern rock band whose members hail from Brazil, Greece and Southeast Asia

      First spin: Fans of Imagine Dragons will find much to like, especially the earnest, percussion-chopped “Long Time Coming.” The plea-for-peace, children’s choir-featuring “Winter Lights” is on par with Coldplay’s sweeping anthems.

      Why see ’em: Straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll never goes out of style, espec ially when it’s this passionate and sincere.

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      Smallpools (May 8, 6 p.m.)

      Who: An effervescent LA quartet fond of fizzy synth-pop, kicky ’80s New Wave and danceable indie rock.

      First spin: Their self-assured and impeccably arranged debut Lovetap!, brimming with chewy hooks, zippy keyboards and frontman Sean Scanlon’s keening yelps.

      Why see ’em: Judging by that strong LP—and the fact that the band sounds close behind Passion Pit and Bleachers in the race for electro-pop superiority—Smallpools seem poised to break out in 2015.

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      Sepultura (May 9, 6:30 p.m.)

      Who: An influential Brazilian heavy metal band celebrating 30 years together.

      First spin: It’s tough to choose just one record (or era). but 1996’s Roots—the last LP featuring original vocalist Max Cavalera—is a good place to start, thanks to its monstrous low end, piledriving riffs and bleeding-throat vocals.

      Why see ’em: Sepultura rarely tours the U.S., plus guitarist Steve Vai is guesting here, making this performance even more singular.

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      James Bay (May 15, 3:30 p.m.)

      Who: The buzziest singer-songwriter export from the U.K. since Sam Smith and Hozier.

      First spin: Bay’s debut album, Chaos and the Calm, resembles Ryan Adams’ sparsest work with The Cardinals; songs like “Scars” and “Let It Go” are restrained folk-rock tunes highlighted by the young Brit’s soulful, wise-beyond-his-years voice.

      Why see him: Bay is at the forefront of a new generation of young folkies—and has the songwriting chops and sincerity to be a leader of the strummy empire.

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      Tove Lo (May 15, 4:30 p.m.)

      Who: A Stockholm-born singer-songwriter with a predilection for the kind of ultra-modern pop Sweden cranks out by the bushel.

      First spin: Although the breakup anthem “Habits (Stay High)” was her breakthrough—perhaps because of its brutal honesty about post-romantic life (e.g., Twinkie binges, poor hookup choices)—the single “Talking Body” is superior, thanks to its sultry synth underbelly and sizzling beats.

      Why see her: Tove Lo is a hypnotic, mesmerizing live performer whose smoky voice is as well-suited to the stage as it is the studio.

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