Garage rock delivered in Farsi? That's what Brooklyn band Habibi plays on Cardamom Garden, its delightful 2018 album. At the start of its finale, singer Rahill Jamalifard launches into a pepped-up rendition of "Green Fuz," a garage-rock classic, with a bold proclamation rendered in Farsi: "Here we come, and we're coming fast." It's a fitting declaration for a group committed to such surprising unions of cultures and styles. An unlikely juxtaposition of infectious surf pop and riff-heavy punk, imbued with the spirit of Iran's own psychedelic music, these magnetic songs are hits in the making.
Though Jamalifard was born in in Detroit, her family is from Iran. She spent summers visiting family there while absorbing Iranian melodies and practicing Farsi. While living in New York City, she bonded with guitarist Lenaya "Lenny" Lynch through a shared love of Persian culture; alongside their bandmates in Habibi (notably, three other women), they amplify that culture by fusing it with new influences. Habibi performs at Durham's inclusive rock club, The Pinhook, as the culmination of a weeklong residency for Duke Performances' Building Bridges project. It's the perfect setting for rock 'n' roll that rewrites the rules.