Mainstream music rarely tackles the big issues these days. You don’t get Rihanna singing about the deficit, or Skrillex sampling Thomas Piketty in one of his sick drops. But those artists don’t come from somewhere like Mali – a country torn apart by coups, Islamist insurgency and French intervention since 2012. If they did, their music might have something of the weight and passion of Songhoy Blues, the Malian rockers using music to heal the emotional wounds inflicted by war. They first came to Western attention at the end of 2013, thanks to their appearance on the latest compilation from Damon Albarn’s Africa Express. That track, a collaboration with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, was not only hypnotically and aggressively groovy, but also a heartfelt plea for patience from the refugees of Mali’s conflict with Islamist group Ansar Dine. It was a dream come true for lovers of African music and punk rock – here were the sounds and beats of Mali, but gnarled, distorted and angry. Their London shows have started to sell out fast, but if you do manage to get a ticket then you’ve got some awe-inspiring desert grooves to look forward to.