One of the most exciting dance records of 2013, Disclosure’s Settle (Cherry Tree/Interscope), has been reissued in an expanded deluxe edition in 2014. Sizzling opener “When A Fire Starts To Burn,” is built on the unlikeliest of samples. On Disclosure “shackles” a Soft Cell echo to a soulful dance cut on “Latch,” featuring Sam Smith. “F For You” is the kind of infection you might not mind, while “Stimulation” is a stimulating, if break-neck, workout. “Defeated No More” draws on some of the same retro inspiration as Daft Punk. Speaking of Daft Punk, like their Random Access Memory, Disclosure’s Settle is also an all-star affair, featuring appearances by Eliza Doolittle on “You & Me”, Jamie Woon on “January” and Jessie Ware on “Confess To Me.” The bonus disc contains the slinky funk of “Together” (with vocals by Sam Smith, again), “F For You” (a version featuring Mary J. Blige) and two others.
With his full-length debut True (Island), Avicii (aka Tim Bergling) became 2013’s David Guetta, but so much betta (if you will). Like Guetta, Avicii took advantage of the popularity of his disc by remixing himself True: Avicii by Avicii (Island), sub-titled “This Is (Also) My Truth.” Avicii , like Guetta, employs guest vocalists, but what he does with them is far more thrilling. Opener “Wake Me Up” finds modern soul singer Aloe Blacc in a country bar, complete with acoustic guitar and electronic beats; disco for the NASCAR set. The country/club theme continues on “Hey Brother,” featuring vocals by Dan Tyminski (of Alison Krauss and O, Brother Where Art Thou? fame) and the addictive “Addicted To You,” sung by southwestern songbird Audra Mae. Avicii breaks up the mountaintop momentum with hardcore dance-floor workouts such as “Dear Boy,” the ballroom blitz of “Shame On Me,” Adam Lambert’s stand-up performance on “Lay Me Down” and the twisted retro soul screamer “Liar Liar.”
Insistently hetero Canadian electro duo Chromeo continues to perfect its shtick on White Women (Atlantic/Big Beat). The ‘80s-era Prince keyboards, retro disco beats and funky dance bass lines still dominate. But this time they’re calling on cool friends – Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Solange and Toro Y Moi – to take their tunes to the next level. Snappy and sexually suggestive, songs such as “Come Alive,” “Over Your Shoulder,” “Play The Fool,” “Somethingood” and “Frequent Flyer” would all fit in well on your summer dance playlist. Chromeo also gets credit for not taking itself too seriously and for using the word “tush” in the song “Sexy Socialite.”
Gardens & Villa welcomes listeners to their swirly and shifting second album Dunes (Secretly Canadian) with the dreamy dance of “Domino” before shifting gears and packing the dance-floor with tantalizing “Colony Glen.” The dance party picks up on the chilly “Avalanche,” while “Echosassy” lives up to its name.
Foster The People (above) drop the ball with a resounding thud on its less than super second album Supermodel (Star Time/Columbia). More or less abandoning the dance music vibe that made the band’s 2011 major-label debut such a pleasure in favor of a 21st century psychedelic sound, Foster The People sounds like they are fostering a new direction. “Best Friend” comes closest to recapturing that dance-floor energy, and if you apply yourself, you could probably find a way to move to “Coming of Age” and “Are You What You Want To Be?”
Free Your Mind (Loma Vista/Republic), as Cut Copy suggests with the title of their new album, and your booty will follow. To fully experience the mind melting motion of the album explore “We Are Explorers,” follow your feet to “Footsteps,” be sure you have something to wash down “In Memory Capsule,” accept the invitation to “Meet Me In the House of Love” and get elevated with “Take Me Higher.”
Twelve years have passed between the release of The Notwist’s best album (Neon Golden) and their latest best work, Close To The Glass (Sub Pop). You could say that it was worth the wait. Their non-traditional approach to dance and electronic music on song such as panicky flood of “Kong,” the exotic title tune, the glitchy “From One Wrong Place to the Next” and “Run Run Run,” makes the dance-floor an exciting place to be again. But let’s hope they won’t take so long between brilliant albums.
Combining influential elements ranging from David Bowie (“The Upsetter”) to seventies soul (“I’m Aquarius”) and eighties new wave (“Call Me”), Mercury Prize-nominees Metronomy (Elektra) has released one of the most varied and surprising albums of the year. The delightful title cut is pure vintage disco and should inspire Metronomy fans to write love letters to the band. “Boy Racers” puts a funky spin on the band’s vintage disco sound, while “Reservoir” kicks in some Kraftwerk.
A hodgepodge of electro styles (remember drum’n bass and jungle?), Rudimental’s Home (Big Beat) is most impressive for its use of guest artists such as blue-eyed UK soul dude John Newman (on “Feel The Love” and “Not Giving In”), high-flying diva Emeli Sandé (on “More Than Anything” and “Free”) and bi rapper Angel Haze (“Hell Could Freeze”). If you’re looking for straightforward dance tracks, “Spoon” and “Baby” will have to do.
Everything about Afrojack’s Forget The World (Wall/Def Jam) sounds like a rip-off of Avicii, a rip-off of David Guetta, a rip-off of Daft Punk, and so on. If any artist CD signals trouble in the electronic dance music realm, it would be this one. Male and female strippers may be the only ones who will be able to appreciate the way the songs climb and drop, whip and zip, perfect for pelvic thrusting and grinding and pole climbing. It’s a shame, too, because this guy actually has a Grammy (!) for remixing, not to mention friends in high places, including Snoop Dogg (get it?), Sting, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa and others.