…if you ever catch me discussing my unrepentant love of dance music, starting with Madonna or Erasure in my youth and carrying through to Robyn and, yes, Lady Gaga, you’ll also hear me decry the sad and uninteresting state of “American” dance music, or the overwhelming volume of uninspired sounds emanating from most dance clubs around the country. Partially, I blame the lack of creative and enthusiastic DJs, but placing the blame on them is a bit unfair. They play the music that the audience and management want to hear — tepid and mechanistic approximations of rhythm and movement. The general schema consists of a series of drone-like pouncing beats with very little variation and the predictable explosion. Personally, I enjoy a tempo shift or two, a little bass drop, less computer driven percussion, and a hint of playfulness. I figured Daft Punk would deliver this. But, I was disappointed. “Get Lucky” might be the jam of the summer for many but to me it is thoroughly uninteresting (especially given the influence of this band). But, I also think Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is even more yawn inducing. Feel free to cast aspersions.
But, let me offer some brilliant and engrossing alternatives. Although I’ll dance to almost anything with a good beat (to quote Deee-Lite), these three albums have made my feet move and should be appearing on dance floor near you or perhaps at your next party. (As always click on the link to listen.)
(And for the record, I won’t go into an extended discussion because I’ve mentioned them before but Tegan and Sara, Chvrches, and Haim should definitely be in the summer dance mix, if not already.) (As always click on the link to listen.)
Amusingly enough in the year when Daft Punk returns to the scene of the crime, it is LA-based Classixx that is making the best Daft Punk-like records. Ebullient, life-affirming, floor pounding, late 90s Baleric Islands-sounding dance groves. A perfect way to get the party started or keep it going through the night. “Holding On” and “A Stranger in Love” are two of the standout tracks; think somewhere between the dreamy dance pop of Saint Etienne and the disco infused grooves of Paul Oakenfeld.
Look dance music isn’t about changing the world, but lighting up the night with unfettered mirth. If anyone understands this concept, it is the British Goth/punk/dance vixen Charlie XCX who straddles the line between a younger Lady Gaga and a post-No Doubt Gwen Stefani. With a great ear for samples (see Gold Panda “You” sample on “You – Ha ha ha” and for perfect back-and-forth all-night dance anthem a la kesha’s “die young” on “take my hand”, Charli displays a careful blend of quirky prankster and master of dance ceremonies. For me “Grins” is the track of note with it’s M.I.A.-like speak singing flourish. (Also, in case you didn’t recognize her voice, she makes an appearance on Ikona Pop’s “I Love It” and if you are curious check out her website (http://www.charlixcxmusic.com/category/music/) as she has a lot of streaming and free music for your listening pleasure.)
Before this record was even released, it was popping up on countless “best of so far” lists. Why all the hype? Although only 18 or 19 years old according to some accounts, Disclosure’s Settle sounds like a missive from the early days of underground house and dance music. Then again, these boys are English where dance music is an art form not a social lubricant for disappearance. Their music is entrancing and hip shaking without being over-the-top or hit-you-over-the-head inane club music. Whether it’s the Prodigy/trip-hop reminiscent “When a Fire Starts to Burn” or the R&B-infused “You & Me”, these tracks will keep you sweating day and night. (Also, check out this single from last year: Disclosure – “Control“.)
see you on the other side of midnight,