Today's recap and mix comes courtesy of RCRD LBL contributor Elise Peebles. Check her out online here and here.
Party music in 2012 was one big cluster of genre-bending goodness. New releases from favorite artists did not disappoint, while inventive producers and DJs creatively provided a diverse landscape of club anthems.
Members of the old guard held it down, but 2012 saw the rise of newcomers unafraid to blend street swag with dance music. The result has been the continuance of pounding global bass, a sprinkle of '80s synths and drumbeats and a brilliant revival of '90s house and R&B.
Oh, and let's not forget the vibrant comeback of trap music and its not-so-subtle influences on pop and indie. From the mobbing and booty-shaking bangers to the wavy tracks that made you go 'Damn, I'm faded,' here are some great songs for a New Years Eve party and an overview of notable party-related developments in 2012.
Azealia Banks Rules The World - Banks hit hard with her smash single "212," but it's been subsequent tracks such as "Jumanji" and "1991" that have kept our attention. She also has a knack for delivering kooky but highly-seductive videos, which is a plus. Her high energy and unapologetic attitude are palpable in her songs, which makes Banks a go-to for all the divas and divos wanting to be fierce for the night.
Brenmar Is Dope - What more can be said? As a producer and avid remixer, Brenmar has lit up the scene. He's like the reincarnation of everything great that we thought had died in 1998. He'll two-step you, house you and force you to make it clap all on one track. Simple titles such as 'R&B' or 'club' just aren't sufficient for him and some of his peers, but one thing is certain: He's brought straight swag to the dancefloor.
Solidisco - This DJ duo from Buffalo, NY simply can't be overlooked. Solidisco has delivered one sexy, lush remix after another and it's obvious they're not going to stop anytime soon. Personally, I'd love to see the duo bringing the house down at a sweaty summer festival in 2013.
Diplo - He's Diplo, and always will be – forever and ever.
All Hail G.O.O.D. Music - It's kind of hard to go to a party and not hear a G.O.O.D. Music track in some form. As a label and collective, GM has titans of hip-hop, some of the best new talent and an admirable collection of young producers, like Hit-Boy, who murdered the charts last year with "Niggas In Paris" and delivered equally well this year with "Clique." Kanye West boasts that he can 'build Rome in one day,' and he's done it here – musically speaking at least.
Avan Lava - With the recent debut of the intoxicating video for "Sisters," Avan Lava has reminded listeners that its Flex Fantasy EP still packs a punch, even though it came out nearly a year ago. I'd vote it as my favorite EP of the year, especially for dancing. With only a handful of tracks, Avan Lava comes off as Prince, multiplied by six and jack-full of liquid-sex funk. The momentum of this EP will carry on for awhile, but Avan Lava needs to keep making sticky and wicked music forever.
Dancing Is Getting Intense - Despite acts like Brenmar, Avan Lava, Teen Daze and Solidisco providing plenty of funk and house grooves, party scenes could not escape the clutches of trap, drill and bounce music. As a result of this and other aspects of YOLO culture, dancefloors have been turned into mob scenes, much purple drank has been consumed and many eyes have been taken-out by swinging hair.
This isn't entirely a bad thing. You'll never feel more accepted than when you're chanting the lyrics to "Bandz A Make Her Dance" with your rowdy comrades in a crowd. Nothing brings people together better than a twerk-off. Somehow the community-building ratchet madness that was once reserved for basement parties in Atlanta or Oakland has now found its way into venues and clubs around the world, so put your drink down and take your earrings out. Or just get the hell off the floor whenever our man 2 Chainz comes on.
M.I.A.- Bad Girls
Kanye West ft. Pusha T, Chief Keef, Jadakiss and Big Sean- I Don't Like (Remix)
Azealia Banks - Jumanji
Mykki Blanco - Wavvy
Kirko Bangz - Drank in My Cup
Diplo ft. Nicky da B - Express Yourself
Justin Timberlake ft. Beyonce - End of Time (Brenmar Remix)
Miike Snow - Devil's Work (Dirty South Remix)
Passion Pit - Constant Conversations (St. Lucia Remix)
Tegan and Sara - Closer
St. Lucia - All Eyes on You
Avan Lava - It's Never Over
Usher - Climax (Flosstradamus and Diplo Remix)
G.O.O.D. Music - Clique
Icona Pop - I Love It (Solidisco Remix)
2 Chainz ft. Kanye West - Birthday Song
Alex Care - Up All Night (Nadastrom Moombathon Remix)
Zuzuka Poderosa - Psicodelia (Nego Mocambique Remix)
Martin Solveig - The Night Out (A-Trak Remix)
Teen Daze - Let's Groove
Kilo Kish - Navy
Miike Snow ft. Lykke Li - Black Tin Box
Crystal Castles - Affection
Le1F - Yup
Wrkd ft. Los Rakas - Purps
Juicy J ft. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz - Bandz A Make Her Dance
When I was growing up in a city with a tanked economy, dark basement parties were the only places to be. Sweating it out to the thundering bass of hip-hop and r&b was a right of passage, and whoever could shake, twerk and drop it the best was crowned king or queen.
Music and dance have always been forms of empowerment for disenfranchised communities around the world, and urban creativity has produced some of the most popular music genres to date through cultural cannibalism: a process that intertwines multiple marginalized identities and cultures to create the best sounds and craziest moves.
Urban queer culture, our subject here, has had a profound impact on pop music in the past fifty years. Ballroom and drag scenes reinvented house music in the '80s and birthed voguing – a dance style that mixed performance art with break dancing and inspired Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga to name a few.
Today, queer culture continues to reinvigorate genres and trends. Ideas of sexual and bodily expression mix with dancehall call-and-response to create bounce – a genre that hails from the project buildings and poor neighborhoods of New Orleans. Also called "sissy bounce," this music is usually fronted by genderqueer men (like the legendary Big Freedia) and recently got into the hands of influential artists like Diplo and Nicki Minaj.
"Wavvy" starts with a four-bar introduction that signals it's about to get real. Over an ominous balafon loop, a deep voice exclaims "I'm the motherfucking rookie of the year" and the aggressive bravado never lets up. Yep, it's the work of performance artist, poet and drag-queen MC Mykki Blanco. With a touch of mania, Blanco comes at anyone who doubts her flow, threatening to pimp-slap homophobic naysayers with a limp wrist. Produced by Brenmar, the bass-heavy track is a delicious serving of gender-bending magic and a proper introduction to Blanco, who has multiple projects coming up. The next is Mykki Blanco & The Mutant Angels – an EP that explores Blanco's punk roots. It drops May 15 on UNO.
The new energetic single from Twin Shadow goes down smooth and complex like a good shot of espresso. With the drama of an '80s ballad and the pulse of a pop-punk anthem, this new-wave opera swells over an orchestra of synths and is appropriately peppered with power-vocal outbursts. "Five Seconds" is the first release from the upcoming Twin Shadow album, Confess, out June 6 on 4AD. Download below directly from the artist for your email.
Students! The end of the semester is fast approaching and your life is about to slow to a crawl that's about as interesting as a week straight in the library. Fret not, though! There are only a few weeks and a few finals separating you from freedom. We know how it goes, so here's a little playlist for burning that midnight oil. Starting with Metermaids' toast to hardworking insomniacs, we'll try to keep you awake during those all-night cramming sessions. From the howls of The Cribs to the club grooves of L-Vis 1990, we hope you find the power to fight off procrastination and make it to the end. Good luck, Compañeros.
Little Chords' "Always/Never" is ice cream cone music – a prime example of the beachy minimalism the Teen Daze side project achieves on its first LP, Afterlife. While the album kind of sounds like someone slowed down my dad's old Americana records, lively lo-fi tracks like this one make that a very good thing. Hear more over on their Bandcamp.
Berlin DJ Current Value brings back the late '90s with this disorienting remix of Björk's "Crystalline." He waxes over the spacey track with some dizzying drum and bass, complementing Björk's howls with beat stutters and wobbling electronics. This basically belongs in an early Aronofsky film, but it's really part of a remix series of Björk's Biophilia album that also includes turns by King Cannibal, El Guincho, Matthew Herbert, Death Grips, 16-Bit, Alva Nota, These New Puritans and Hudson Mohawke. One Little Indian will release part one of the eight-part series on April 16.
Brooklyn party monster Zuzuka Poderosa recently released her Carioca Bass mixtape – a thick, 40-minute bootylicious ride put together by Kush Arora. Rooted in bass-heavy baile funk, the tape bangs through global ghetto sounds, from bhangra to soca crunk. Plus, there are bunda-shaking appearances from Los Rakas, Spoek Mathambo, Sany Pitbull and many more. Carioca Bass is definitely what Poderosa calls an "interracial music baby." What does that mean? That it's time to learn Portuspanglish. Rumor has it there's more to come on Poderosa's Carioca Bass EP, which is expected sometime this spring.
Nothing like a good, aggressive, cocky banger to start off the weekend! This smokey gem from indie-rap pioneer El-P is marinated in Brooklyn swag and drizzled with proper hip-hop lyricism. He raps you in circles over a distorted bass-heavy beat that's primed to be blasted out of car speakers. "The Full Retard" has that sticky summer sound, which is perfect since El-P's new solo album, Cancer For Cure, debuts May 22 on Fat Possum.
According to the zodiac and people like Ms. Cleo, Aquarians and Gemini are a good match. Well, the cards don't lie, because I'm definitely crushing on Gemini Club. The Chicago electro trio's latest proves it can deliver much more than great remixes. "By Surprise," the first single from the upcoming Here We Sit EP, is a tender spacewalk through a twinkling soft-dance. And as if we're on the same wavelength (love is in the air), today GC released "Can't Believe You Said That," which feels like a poppy synth-punk trip through a pinball machine. You can cop a free download of "By Surprise" at the Gemini Club website and grab Here We Sit on April 17.