Category: dance pop

Throwback: Black History Month: Nile Rodgers

Today is the 16th day of February — and the 16th day Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Nile Rodgers has written, cowritten and/or produced some of the biggest and most beloved dance floor and pop hits of the past 50 years while working with a who’s who list of artists across a diverse and eclectic array of artists. I’d guarantee that Rodgers has worked with an artist you love on a song you love. And as a result, his sound and approach has been instrumental in your life.

Rose Rose is an emerging indie pop project that features two, young, self-taught multi-instrumentalists and producers, who are split between Paris and London. The project is the culmination of two years of experimenting, then developing and honing their sound — a sound that finds them blending elements of house music, 70s disco and pop.

The duo’s debut single “Sugar Hill” is a glittery and carefully crafted pop confection centered around atmospheric synths, stuttering four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, ethereal vocals and an infectious, two-step inducing hook. Upon hearing the track, it shouldn’t be surprising that the British-French pop act’s sound will draw comparisons to Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories — with “Sugar Hill” possessing a similar warm, sepia-toned nostalgia.

Brooklyn-based psych pop/dance pop act Psymon Spine — Noah Prebish, Sabine Holler, Brother Michael Rudinski, and Peter Spears — can trace its origins back to when its founding duo of Noah Prebish and Peter Spears met while attending college. Bonding over mutual influences and common artistic aims, Psymon Spine’s founding duo toured the European Union with Prebish’s electronic project Karate. And as the story goes, while in Paris,  Spears and Prebish wrote their first song together. By the time, they arrived in London, they were offered a record deal. 

When the band’s founding duo returned to the States, Spears recruited Micheal “Brother Micheal” Rudinski and their Karate bandmates Devon Kilbern, Nathaniel Coffey to join their newest project. And with that lineup, they fished out the demos, which wold eventually comprise their full-length debut, 2017’s You Are Coming to My Birthday. The band went out to support the effort with immersive art and dance parties like their Secret Friend party series across Brooklyn and through relentless touring.

Prebish was also splitting his creative time with rising Brooklyn-based dram pop act Barrie and around the same time, his work with the rising dream pop act began to receive attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere through the release of a handful of buzz worthy singles, followed by their full-length debut, last year’s Happy to Be Here. Interestingly while with Barrie, Prebish met his further Psymon Spine bandmate, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sabine Holler.

Without live shows and touring, the members of Psymon Spine have been busy releasing new material this year, which included two singles:

  • Milk,” a coquettish, club friendly banger with Barrie that brings In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Soft Metals‘ Lenses and received quite a bit of attention internationally — with the single receiving praise from   VanyalandHigh Clouds, Echowave Magazine, The RevueHype Machine and a list of others.The track also landed on  Spotify playlists like UndercurrentsAll New Indie and Fresh Finds, as well as the YouTube channels of  David Dean BurkhartNice Guys‘ and Birp.fm. And lastly, the track received airplay on BBC Radio 6.
  • Modmed,” an  Andrew VanWyngarden-produced and cowritten, strutting disco-tinged track that’s actually deceptively upbeat, as it captures the ambivalent and confusing mixture of frustration, doubt and relief of a relationship that had long petered out and finally wound down to its inevitable conclusion. Interestingly, the song is inspired and informed by personal experience: Prebish and Holler’s difficult decision to leave Barrie to focus on Pysmon Spine full-time.

Psymon Spine’s third single of this year, is the hazy and lysergic banger “Confusion.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a wobbling bass line, blown out beats and Prebish’s plaintive vocals, a trippy spoken word-delivered break and a looping guitar solo, Psymon Spine’s latest single brings Tame Impala‘s Currents to mind. Much like its immediate predecessors, “Confusion” continues a run of carefully crafted and breezy, hook driven pop.

Interestingly, the release of the single manages to simultaneously coincide with the announcement of the Brooklyn-based act’s third album Charismatic Megafauna while encapsulating the album’s overall theme and vibe — the complicated feelings involved in the dissolution of human relationships. In particular “Confusion” finds the band channeling the confusing and contradictory feelings following the sort of breakup that has lead to a major rift in the larger social circle — but while also possibly hinting to the end of a friendship or working relationship. And as a result, the song seems to evoke the desire to dance away the hurt, for a little while at least.

Charismatic Megafauna is slated for a February 21, 2021 release through Northern Spy.



New Video: Psymon Spine Teams Up with MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden on a Glittery Club Banger

Rapidly rising Brooklyn-based psych pop/dance pop act Psymon Spine can trace its origins to when founding duo Noah Prebish and Peter Spears met while attending college. Bonding over mutual influences and common artistic aims, the duo went off to tour Europe with Prebish’s electronic act Karate. While in Paris, Spears and Prebish wrote their first song together and when they got to London, they were offered a record deal.

Upon returning to the states, Spears recruited Micheal “Brother Micheal” Rudinski and their Karate bandmates Devon Kilbern, Nathaniel Coffey to the band — and with that lineup they fleshed out the demos, which would eventually become their full-length debut, 2017’s You Are Coming to My Birthday. The members of the rising Brooklyn-based act then supported the album with immersive art and dance parties through their Secret Friend series across Brooklyn, as well as relentless touring.

Simultaneously, Prebish’s work with rising Brooklyn-based dream pop act Barrie began to receive quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere with a handful of buzz-worthy singles and their critically applauded full-length debut, last year’s Happy to Be Here. Interestingly, this led Prebish to meet his Barrie bandmate, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sabine Holler, who then joined Psymon Spine.

“Milk,” a collaboration with their former bandmate Barrie was the first bit of new material by the Brooklyn-based act inn three years — and it’s the first recorded output with their newest member Sabine Holler. Since the single’s release, it has received airplay on BBC Radio 6 and earned praise from a number of media outlets including Vanyaland, High Clouds, Echowave Magazine, The Revue, Hype Machine and a list of others. The track also landed on a number of YouTube channels including David Dean Burkhart‘s. Nice Guys‘ and Birp.fm, as well as Spotify playlists like Undercurrents, All New Indie and Fresh Finds. Additionally, Apple Music’s Matt Wilkinson featured the track. None of this should be surprising: the track sonically recalls In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Soft Metals‘ Lenses –but with a mischievously coquettish air that makes it a club friendly banger.

The Andrew VanWyngarden-produced and cowritten “Modmed” is a glittering and strutting disco-tinged track, centered around wobbling low end, glistening synth arpeggios and a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. While drawing from 80s New Wave and classic house music, the track interestingly enough, is deceptively and ironically upbeat: the track actually captures the ambivalent and confusing mix of frustration, doubt and relief of a relationship that’s finally come to a conclusion. In particular, the song actually describes Prebish’s and Holler’s decision to leave Barrie and focus on Psymon Spine full-time.

“Psymon Spine invited me into the studio one winter’s day and we had a fun and funky time ripping Juno basslines and dialing in lush tones,” Andrew VanWyngarden recalls in press notes. “I like that their dj and record digging knowledge comes through distinctly on this track.”

Directed by the band and edited by Noah Prebish, the recently released video for “Modmed” is a delirious and playful lo-fi visual in which we see the members of the band goofing off and rocking out to the song in a variety of situations. This is split with footage of the members of the band actually performing the song. It’s all run through trippy filters and VHS-styled graininess, which also helps enhance the track’s retro-futuristic vibe.

New Video: DRAMA Releases a Surreal and Otherworldly Visual for “Years”

Tracing their origins back to a chance meeting between its core duo back in 2014, the Chicago-based pop duo DRAMA — producer and DJ Na’el Shehade and vocalist Via Rosa — have managed to bootstrap a subtle yet rapid rise with a proudly DIY ethos, releasing several EPs of material that blurs the lines between R&B, dance pop, heartbreak and bliss, centered around a sound that meshes Shehade’s Chicago house-infused production and Rosa’s soulful delivery, inspired by jazz, hip-hop and Bossa nova. 

Now, as you may recall, the Chicago-based pop act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dance Without Me is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Ghostly International. The album’s material reportedly finds the duo recasting romantic tragedy as moonlit self-acceptance. Instead of wallowing alone in their blues and heartache, the material features characters who sashay and strut, knowing their self-worth while being vulnerable. This album is dedicated to the people watching their friend’s love-lives grow and happen around them, and not having anyone,” Rosa says in press notes.

I’ve written about two of the album’s releases singles so far: “Gimme Gimme,” a sultry synthesis of Between Two Selves-era Octo Octa and classic, Larry Levan-era house — and “Nine One One,” a slow-burning, cinematic bit of Quiet Storm-like soul pop. “Years,” Dance Without Me’s fourth and latest single is a decidedly R&B-tinged affair that nods at What’s the 411-era Mary J. Blige and Robin S.; however, at its core, the song is full of uneasy conflict and bitter uncertainty : the song’s narrator recognizes that they’re deeply devoted to someone, who isn’t right for them. “This track is a bittersweet song about the conflict of wanting to let go but still hold onto someone you love, but you know they’re not right for you,” DRAMA’s Via Rosa says in press notes. “It’s about knowing you should walk away but also wanting to confess your unconditional and eternal love.”

Directed by Adam Chiayat, the recently released video features the members of DRAMA performing through a series of surreal and otherworldly transitioning spaces. “Filmed practically, we set out to create a series of otherworldly, constantly transitioning spaces for DRAMA to perform through,” the video’s director says in press notes. “Emotions can feel like they take us on a ride, floating us forward and bringing us towards things we need to tackle in our lives. The floating and the spaces seek to represent the themes of the song – speaking to your own heart, confronting your past and opening yourself back up to vulnerability.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sofi Tukker Releases a Wild Party Themed Visual for “Purple Hat”

Acclaimed New York-based electronic duo and longtime JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — have been widely celebrated for an inclusive, global take on electronic music that’s thematically centered around self-empowerment, unity and liberation. 

“Drinkee,” the duo’s debut single received a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance Recording — and they continued an extraordinary run of early successes with their full-length debut Treehouse receiving  a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album. Adding to a growing profile of success, the New York electro pop duo’s releases have gone gold or platinum on every continent on the planet — with the exception of Antarctica. They’ve also played sold out shows and festival stops across the planet, and performed on some of the world’s most popular late night talk shows, including Italy’s X-Factor, the UK’s Sunday Brunch, Russia’s Late Show and Japan’s BuzzRhythm, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and most recently Good Morning America.

Released earlier this year, Dancing on the People is Sofi Tukker’s much-anticipated follow up to their highly-successful full-length debut. “Purple Hat,” the EP’s latest single is a joyous and ebullient track with a breezy Brazilian/Tropicalia-like intro that quickly turns into a thumping banger centered around tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, a funky Nile Rodgers-like guitar line, Bhangra-inspired percussion and a rousing and enormous hook while Hawley-Weld and Halpern trade vocal lines about a wild party in which the attendees let go of all pretense and facades and let their freak flags proudly fly. And as long as no one is getting hurt, be yourself, “shake that ass and show ’em what you’re working with!” Considering the hatred, opposition, thievery and bullshit we’ve been inundated with during this current administration, the song is absolutely necessary. 

“We wrote ‘Purple Hat’ the day after our first Animal Talk party,” the duo explains. “We started throwing these parties to bring back the wild and inclusive dancing vibe to the nightclub experience. Tuck was literally wearing a purple hat and a cheetah print shirt, people were climbing on top o people, it was over-sold and sweaty, our favorite people were packed in the booth, everyone was loose AF and feeling themselves. It was wild. Every Animal Talk party since then has been like that, and we wanted to capture that raw feeling in a song. If there was a song that included everything we are about, this would be the one.”

Directed by Charles Todd, a frequent Sofi Tukker collaborator, who also filmed the videos for “Fantasy” and “Swing,” the recently released video for “Purple Hat” was filmed during the duo’s sold out, homecoming show at Avant Gardner earlier this fall. Naturally, the video is split between excited Sofi Tukker fans arriving in cheetah print and purple hat gear, live performance shots and the concert crowd getting sweaty and wild, which further emphasizes the song’s spirit and feel. “This song was literally written about the energy of the crowds at our shows so we wanted to literally capture that energy for the video too,” the duo says of the video.  “It’s always so special playing back in New York, where everything started for us and we thought it would be the perfect show to film the video at. We didn’t want to get actors and have a fake party to recreate the energy — we wanted to do it in real life with real people, like we do most nights of the year. Really happy to relive that night over and over again.”

New Video: Brisbane’s Confidence Man Releases an Occult Themed Visual for 90s House-Inspired “Does It Make You Feel Good?”

With the release of last year’s full-length debut, Confident Music for Confident People, which featured a handful of breakthrough singles, the Brisbane, Australia-based dance pop act Confidence Man — led by Janet Planet and Sugar Bones and featuring Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild — received attention nationally and internationally for a crowd-pleasing, club friendly sound seemingly inspired by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Deeee-Lite-era house music. 

Adding to a growing profile and busy summer, the rapidly rising Aussie dance pop played across the international festival circuit, including a stop at Glastonbury Festival — and amazingly earning an opening slot for the legendary New Order. Interestingly, Confidence Man’s latest single, the shimmering, club anthem “Does It Make You Feel Good” continues on the momentum of the past year. Centered around a slick production featuring  a thumping and propulsive beat, shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line and a rousing hook, the song manages to be heavily indebted to late 80s and early 90s house and Club MTV-era MTV — i.e., Black Box, C+C Music Factory, the aforementioned Deeee-Lite and others. But instead of ascribing to soulless mimicry, the song reveals an act with a careful  and deliberate attention to craft. 

Directed by the Aussie dance pop act’s longtime visual collaborators Schall and Schanbel, the recently released visual is s striking fever dream that’s reminds me quite a bit of the work of Dario Argento — but with an extensive dance sequence in between the gore, ecstatic occult rituals and laser shooting boobies and cute animals.