A roundup of hot new trance, electro, house, and indie dance tracks for the week..
Mike Mago & Dragonette - Outlines - [SPINNIN]
Dutch label Spinnin's flirtation with deeper music under their sublabel Spinnin' Deep started in 2009, but kind of stalled in early 2012. The release of "The Show" by Mike Mago completely reinvigorated the label as a place for quality deep and tech house while doing the unimaginable feat of crossing over and becoming a chart-topping UK pop hit. Since then the BKLMTSCH label head has released a follow-up track (the slightly more subtle "Man Hands") and a few major remixes (Charli XCX and Tiesto). Teaming up with the EDM-loving trio "Dragonette," he unleashes the cooly-chilled house vibe of "Outlines." Of course, there is a rush to name this new subgenre of deep house, is it Nu-House or the Tchami/Merk & Kremont-styled "Future House?" Regardless, it's vibey with a cool pop edge, mixing the '90s house revival elements of Prince Club/Mr Belt & Wezol with a hint of '80s synths. Singer Martina Sorbara of Dragonette is a chameleon as she brings a different flavor to every artist she works with. Compared to "Animale" by Don Diablo or the hits with Martin Solveig, she sounds softer yet more emotional with her vocal delivery. Don't be surprised if "Outlines" becomes one of those cool "underground" club records that bubbles up to be a major pop hit - it is just that good.
Basement Jaxx - Never Say Never - [PIAS]
After the diverse sounds of Unicorn and Bahia de Saria, who knew what to expect next from Basement Jaxx? “Never Say Never” is an updated ’90s vocal house track – think Prince Club collaborating with Mark Kinchen. Calling it a track is actually an understatement, it is a truly fleshed-out vocal song with memorable hooks and a bridge which is reminiscent of the classic “Teardrops” (or the more recent Nabiha “Never Played the Bass”). Singer ETML has incredible depth and his vocal range is exceptional, putting him in the same canon of the new generation of British male soul singers like John Newman and Sam Smith (listen to his solo track “Bind Me”). The Mark Knight (the other MK) mix sounds like it’s pumped up to a faster tempo – but it’s 126 BPM, just like the original. Being a bit brighter and hands in the air, it is just one step removed from classic ’90s piano house. Though I am not a normally a fan of dubs, GotSome (the crew behind "Bassline") reinvents the track with bouncy percussive loops, cartoon-like sound effects, and just overwhelming fun that channels the humor and wit of Mighty Dub Kats and the Sharp Boys. The Wayward mix is the opposite extreme – chilled-out with pitched-down vocals for a darker effect. “Never Say Never” is extremely solid and only whets the appetite even more for the forthcoming Junto album from Basement Jaxx.
Oliver $ & Jimi Jules - Pushing On - [DEFECTED/MINISTRY OF SOUND]
There are too many Olivers right now. There's the Canadian duo Oliver, the Dutch EDM teen sensation Oliver Heldens, and the Berlin producer Oliver $ who teamed up with Jimi Jules to create this massive buzz record. With a shuffling house groove and a classic blues-inflected soulful vocal, it's easy to hear why it has been massive in Ibiza all summer. For a frame of reference, go back to the classic "Remember Me" by Blue Boy from years back. Actually, this does sound like it could be a Mousse T record. Like the similarly infectious club hit "Bassline" by the Get Along Gang, "Pushing On" started on respected indie house label Defected and was picked up by Ministry of Sound for the big push. Another reason to like this record is that there is an original mix, a dub, and a radio edit - not a huge pack of interpretations to fit every subgenre imaginable. A good record is a good record and "Pushing On" is one you will probably be hearing for the rest of the year.
Above & Beyond ft Alex Vargas - Blue Sky Action - [ANJUNABEATS]
Creating music inspired by a literary or film work often leads to something transcendent. Take a listen to "The Veldt," by deadmau5, for a solid recent example. The "Blue Sky Action" comes from the movie Wall-E where the last robot on earth lives a lonely life in the remnants of the polluted world. Starting with live instrumentation and featuring the soulful vocals of Vagabond lead singer Alex Vargas, the song quickly builds to the progressive stadium pop sound that is quite familiar. What sets it apart from the pack is not only the lyrical message but a retro-NRG sounding, trancy keyboard line which feels like it is directly from a Lange remix from a HiLux/Lange remix from the late '90s yet still sounds modern and uplifting in this context. The video is also quite exceptional, reenacting the story with theatrical quality and a three-dimensional holographic performance of the band rendered stunningly.
Nora en Pure ft Penny Foster - Higher in the Sun - [ENORMOUS TUNES]
Nora en Pure & Sons of Maria - Uruguay - [ENORMOUS TUNES]
All these sub genres - nu-disco / indie dance - are swirling around. Swiss producer/dj Nora en Pure has been on my mind with the breezy, summery pop "Higher in the Sun" featuring the effortlessly gorgeous vocals of Penny Foster. The guitars and flutes play with a subtle flow that just glides into a sexy groove reminiscent of "Bullit" by Watermat. Collaborating with Sons of Maria, "Uruguay" channels classic 'Blue Lines'-era Massive Attack with an emotion filled orchestration effortless blending progressive chords with a techy groove. Both of these tracks share a similar soundscape/soundtrack DNA, but by collaborating with others Nora en Pure expands her sound to a wider audience. As you are exploring the music of Nora en Pure, be sure to check out her remix of "Back & Forth" by The Aston Shuffle for a groovy take of the r&b flavored pop song