This week we're pinning our up-and-comer hopes on The Hot Moon, a promising neo-R&B group formed last year in San Diego with members of Grand Ole Party and Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects. We like the way they play soul: With bone-dry piano and guitars, a touch of horns, and plenty of empty space around a restrained rhythm -- a lean, yearning sound born from an unmistakably modern kind of worry.
Singer Sasha Pfau builds her towering voice up slowly and seductively over these primitive tunes, recalling Bessie Smith as she floats her woes luxuriantly over the beat. And while The Hot Moon occasionally veer toward an uncomfortably smooth kind of R&B -- mostly brought on by Pfau's athletic vocal chords -- at other times she sounds like an old soul sample on slightly-awkward repeat, making us wonder if The Hot Moon are deliberately evoking contemporary hip-hop. Either way, we're intrigued.