Throughout this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written a lot about the New York-based electro pop/dance music act and longtime JOVM mainstays ESCORT. Initially founded by production team Eugune Cho and Dan Balls and featuring powerhouse vocalist and bassist Adeline Michele as a core members of an act that routinely expanded from anywhere from 5 to 17 members, the acclaimed pop act have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from classic disco, house music, soul and funk. Adding to a still-growing profile, the members of ESCORT have played across North America’s festival circuit, including sets at Sasquatch Festival, Okeechobee Festival Montreal Jazz Festival, Full Moon Festival and others — and have shared stages with The Internet, Charles Bradley, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Cody ChesnuTT.
Since the release of the longtime JOVM mainstays last single “Josephine,” the group has gone through a major lineup change with the act’s longtime vocalist Adeline leaving to pursue a solo career, and eventually being replaced with new vocalist Nicki B, who contributes both lead and backing vocals. Unsurprisingly, ESCORT’s long-awaited album City Life, which is slated for an April 12, 2019 finds the acclaimed electro pop act may arguably be their most expansive and collaborative album they’ve worked on and released to date, as the album features guest spots from longtime Gil Scott-Heron collaborator Brian Jackson; NYC disco and soul legend Fonda Rae, best known for her classic single “Over Like a Fat Rat;” renowned dub producer Lone Ranger; and their long-time vocalist Adeline, who appears on several tracks. Sonically speaking, the album reportedly finds the band attempting to evoke the kinetic and frenzied energy of New York — with the album’s material drawing from dub, house music, Brazilian pop and disco made for turning up with your headphones while commuting or while burning up the club.
City Life’s first single, album title track “City Life” features the legendary Fonda Rae teaming up with the act’s new vocalist Nicki B on the glittering disco banger. Centered around glistening and shimmering arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, stuttering drum programming and a motorik-like groove, the track sonically may remind some listeners of a seamless synthesis of Fonda Rae’s classic tunes, Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Ain’t Nobody,” 80s synth funk and classic house music — with a hedonistic thump. “We tried to put something together evoking the feeling of Fonda’s records,” Eugene Cho says in press notes, about collaborating with Fonda Rae. “We were nervous to send it to her—here’s something that’s inspired by you!—but she was totally into it. It was great.”
Directed by Bridget Barkan, the recently released video captures a night out with Escort’s Nicki B that includes meeting up with a buddy, goofing off as you ride the subway to meet the rest of the crew and heading to your favorite club to shake your ass all night to some dope DJs, followed by a stop at the diner (inevitably in this case, Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg) and a sleepy yet satisfied subway ride back home. It captures a wild night on the town, full of fun and possibility.
ESCORT will be incorporating a leaner stage set up for the national tour to support the new album — and the tour begins with an album release show at Elsewhere on April 17, 2019. “There’s a difference between music you can dance to and dance music,” Cho explains while discussing the band’s current mission statement that City Life represents. “We try to strike a balance—you can nod your head to it and feel a dance-y groove, but there’s a specific direction we’re coming from too. This is live dance music, and we try to make stuff we can share to a live experience.” Check out the tour dates below.
4/17: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
4/18: Washington, DC @ U-Street
4/19: Denver, CO @ Cervantes
4/20: Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
4/21: Seattle, WA @ Neumos
4/23: Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
4/24: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
4/25: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
4/26: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
6/27-6/30: Rothbury, MI @ Electric Forest