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
The world of electronic music continued to veer into uncharted territories throughout 2012 – both within unexplored underground nooks and on stadium stages with bigger sounds (and more party-hungry audiences) than ever before.
Here are some very good songs in playlist form and an overview of electronic/dance's most notable developments in 2012.
Footwork Freakout - The footwork underworld in Chicago finally blew minds on a more national scale. And rightfully so! Figurehead DJ Rashad led the way by flipping genres and microsamples into screwfaced stews tailor-made to make people totally flip the hell out. It worked.
Return Of Soul - Acts like AlunaGeorge and Disclosure skipped the sterile genre workouts and combined soulful vocals, R&B dynamics and enough driving dance motifs to keep things both interesting and forward-thinking. This class provides proof that the space between dance, hip-hop and pop matters less and less.
Trap Theatre - I want to slap fools with my glove when I hear talk about 'trap music,' but the tweaky menace of southern hip-hop did indeed assert a lot of positive influence on dance and electronic music this year. Whether it was Baauer with the nutso "Harlem Shake" or Star Slinger rattling trunks, the rules were broken, hands were waved and our ears were better for it.
That's Emotional - Again, in a world where much of the music is made for partying purposes, artists like Burial made music that went straight for the heart and brain. His Kindred EP was yet another pitch-perfect, dusty caldron of emotion, while the chipmunk narcotics of acts like Holy Other and ecstatic dread of How To Dress Well inspired more tears than dancing.
Need A Vacation - Visions of the tropics and beautiful bodies of water were a theme I kept hitting in my electronic excursions. Major Lazer's major single "Get Free" is a light, bouncy dub revelation with great vocals, while Poolside used the palate of disco to chill me out to the point of considering those sugary blue drinks with umbrellas as a proper dinner.
DJ Rashad - Well Well Well
Baauer - Harlem Shake
Disclosure - Latch (feat. Sam Smith)
Burial - Ashtray Wasp
Chromatics - Lady
Star Slinger - Ladies In The Back
Major Lazer - Get Free (feat. Amber Coffman)
Traxman - Shake Dat Azz
Poolside - Next To You
How To Dress Well - & It Was U
Daphni - Yes, I know
TNGHT - Top Floor
AlunaGeorge - Just A Tough
Maya Jane Coles - Not Listening
Fatima Al Qadiri - D-Medley (Dutch E Germ Remix)
Holy Other - Tense Past
Just a sample, just a drag, just a little something to get a taste: that's the concept behind Fool's Gold Records' brand new Loosies compilation. Here, label honchos A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs bring you the coolest music from the ever-obese line between dance, electronic and rap, featuring artists like Danny Brown, Donnis Grande Marshall, King L, MondreMAN of Main Attrakionz, Roach Gigz and many other favorites of this here website. Sample it all below – just be careful not to burn too many in a row.
"Leaf" is the next single from Votive Life, the debut album from British group Cave Painting, and here it gets a hypnotic, schizophrenic remix by Post War Years that might make the Thom Yorke obsessives cry in their cereal. It's a twinkling, emotive thing that hits on a galloping kaleidoscope of microsamples and bell-assisted pop.
I'm man enough to admit that I thought Poolside was a bit of a one-trick pony – exceptional and sharp-shooting at making music for, yes, poolsides, but maybe not one to stretch into non-sunny territories. So forgive me. I had no clue that they'd be able to stretch out into the 'badasses only' territory of remixing acts like Black Sabbath. And here we are with the group's inventive and irresistible flip on "Planet Caravan" as featured on their fantastic recent Seasons Change mixtape. So heavy.
Fool's Gold is gearing-up for the release of their star-studded Loosies compilation by, yes, letting loose a few specials in anticipation of next week’s drop date. On this "Piss Test" remix, A-Trak injects some additional venom and steroids into the original, twerking the beat and swapping-out Danny Brown and Juicy J’s bars for verses from Jim Jones, Flatbush Zombies, El-P and Flosstradamus. Stay tuned. The whole thing drops on December 18.
With the wobbly, pummeling, sinister, yet artfully-designed world of Brenmar, you know that something deranged coming out is always a possibility. On "BF/GF," it really goes down. The track has a ultra-booming, hypnotic, otherworldly feel – like something Timbaland would be making if he understood dance music and hadn't turned so boring.
Last week, British duo Disclosure played their first-ever headline show in the UK and treated fans to a preview of their remix of R&B garage act Artful Dodger’s “Please Don’t Turn Me On,” which featured a special guest appearance from the originators themselves. Back in 2000, the Craig David collaborators dominated British airwaves with this ultra-millennial pop track, and over a decade later their fellow countrymen and garage devotees are paying homage with their timely, squelchy house rework.
Despite being located in the industrial wasteland we like to call Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Glasslands has become an indie dance haven. And last week, the Jet Jam tour last week brought out a room of Anglophiles en masse.
Jet Jam parties are international affairs curated by UK producer Darren Williams (aka Star Slinger) with visuals contributed by Slovenian artists Michaela Selmani and Anže Sekelj. It's a distinct vision with a focus on future-bass that sports omnipresent vocals and a decidedly R&B aesthetic.
I caught both Bondax and Star Slinger and was completely enamored with the proliferation of vocal-house in both sets. It all reminded me that dancefloors can totally be churches.
Bondax, a teenage duo from Lancaster, are redeeming members of the baby-faced Millennials. George Townsend (age 17) and Adam Kaye (age 18) appear on stage fitted like prom rejects rather than soon-come international dance stars, but the music certainly holds up. Their near-throwback garage vocal tracks are thoroughly produced and then mixed with more urgency than most environments can handle, and the sweet pop-ready builds and breakdowns keep you waiting for what's next.
When Star Slinger mixed onstage, he truly commanded the room. The set was big, bringing his hip-hop aesthetic to an all-house set that, in combination with his recent EP Ladies In The Back, is a true testament that R&B wins over EDM any day. I could make many-a-comment here about the appropriation of R&B by pale-faced white dudes, but from cutting his chops retrofitting jams from Drake and the set he threw down, Slinger is undoubtedly next level.
Best Tweet about the show: @halcyonhabit
Bullshitting with Star Slinger before he goes on at @Grasslands in Williamsburg, BK
(Obviously for the "Grasslands" reference… Which, what? When's that place opening?)
Dreamy disco is an underutilized concept, but Renny Wilson seems to get it. On "By And By," it's not about crushing clubs (or beers, for that matter), no, it's flightiness. Fitting nicely alongside contemporaries we've been loving like Poolside, Wilson takes the language of dance music and uses it for poppy excursions that feel supremely relaxed. His new album, the appropriately-titled Sugarglider, is out January 22 via Mint Records.
Download: Renny Wilson - By And By