Here's a sneak peek at some of August's most anticipated new releases, including the latest from No Age, Ty Segall, and Superchunk.

Every August typically boasts a robust college-rock release schedule to greet those going back to school. But this August seems to offer an even greater embarrassment of riches than normal when it comes to indie releases, cueing up new work from deans-of-the-scene Superchunk, compelling albums by graduating-to-the-next-level upperclassmen like the Dodos and Ty Segall, as well as promising debuts by a strong incoming class that features King Krule and Bent Shapes. There's also something for the too-cool-for-school post-grad types who are at least a decade past their primes, what with a new Franz Ferdinand album and the latest Belle and Sebastian singles compilation slated to come out this month as well.


Artist: Julianna Barwick

Album: Nepenthe

Label: Dead Oceans


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: 2013-08-19

Julianna Barwick

On Nepenthe, Julianna Barwick once again creates a spiritual musical experience: Sounding sacred without the religious connotations and metaphysical without any New Age mumbo-jumbo, Barwick's work is proof positive that music itself can be a higher power, not just a mediated expression of some greater force. As with her last full-length, 2011's The Magic Place, Nepenthe is a wondrous album that's somehow impressionistic and substantial at the same time, a further development in Barwick's aesthetic brought about by the conditions in which it was put together. Instead of being an introspective, go-it-alone project as earlier efforts were, Nepenthe is a more wide-open affair, recorded in Iceland with Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers and an eclectic group of collaborators that includes a local teen chorale, string ensemble Amiina, not to mention her mother on some vocals. The result is a different kind of transcendent sound from before, one more organic as it evokes the sublimity of nature in uncannily beautiful ways through eerie voices, plaintive strings, and swathes of hazy effects. And yet, Barwick's music is never just about the atmospherics and environments it conjures up, but also how she connects to them and find her way through them. Made in part during a time of mourning for Barwick, Nepenthe exudes an inner solemnity that navigates a more uncertain and emotionally fraught soundscape this time around. That's the kind of spirituality Julianna Barwick taps into, reaching across creed, belief, and experience. Arnold Pan


Artist: Robbie Basho

Album: Visions of the Country

Label: Gnome Life


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: Import

Robbie Basho
Visions of the Country

1978's Visions of the Country is one of the finest records from a guitar legend. Robbie Basho, the godfather of 12-string guitar playing, was always a man apart. While John Fahey tried to press new treads into the dusty ground, Basho had his eye on the astral plane. This album, now reissued on Gnome Life, is one of the finest odes to landscape ever recorded. Basho's tribute to the American West is expansive and exploratory. When he sings of the rivers on "Green River Suite", his guitar ripples and churns like the flowing river itself. When he goes to higher ground on "Rocky Mountain Raga" -- "towards the sun," he keens, "against the sky" -- his guitar spikes peaks and expands out endlessly into the thinning air. This is an album of stunning performances -- from the haunting space of "Blue Crystal Fire" to the playful thump of "Night Way". Throughout, we get the interplay of intricate guitars ringing out and around Basho's booming, rolling voice. As Basho mines the land in these songs for some connection, for something spiritual, you too are bound to feel tied to these songs. They may reveal something nameless, some feeling you can't quite pinpoint, but one you can't ignore nonetheless. This is unabashed, open-hearted music, and a classic album worth re-evaluation. So why not now? Matthew Fiander


Artist: The Dodos

Album: Carrier

Label: Polyvinyl


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-27

UK Release Date: 2013-08-26

The Dodos

The Dodos have been hard to pin down. After their breakout, scattershot collection Visiter, the band gave us the gliding electric vibes of Time to Die before flooring us with the taut, catchy energy of No Color. Now Carrier whips up the best elements of those records and forms them into yet another new direction for the band. These songs are carefully textured and perfectly balanced between the guitar work and confident vocals of Meric Long and the ever-propulsive and unpredictable percussion of Logan Kroeber. The album pays tribute to the late Women guitarist Chris Reimer, who also toured as a third member of the Dodos in 2011 before passing away. You can hear Reimer's influence on the echoing guitars of "Transformer" and the chords ringing out and curling in on each other on the pulsing "Stranger". Other songs, like "Substance", add a tighter pop sensibility to the band's frenetic sound, shaping their zeal into brilliant hooks. Even moodier tracks like the haunting closer "The Ocean" maintain a tight focus, one that never forgets to weave urgency into all of these carefully constructed layers. Carrier is not the most frenetic set by the Dodos, but its energy isn't a fading one, but one that's thornier, more subtle than past records. The Dodos are fighting with the dark, but here they sound like the coming morning, etching the world into shape with each bittersweet tune. Matthew Fiander


Artist: Julia Holter

Album: Loud City Song

Label: Domino


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: 2013-08-19

Julia Holter
Loud City Song

With 2012's Ekstasis, Julia Holter came into her own as a voice who could get your attention without dumbing down her art-minded imagination, garnering interest by having listeners move up to her level. But as brainy as her high-concept music was, there was an undercurrent of pop songwriting that grabbed hold of you and offered a gateway into her more obscure, egg-headed experimentation. Without ever compromising on her artistic vision, her new album Loud City Song follows up and follows through on the more listener-friendly developments on Ekstasis, but still on Holter's own terms. A meditation on fame and fortune in her homebase of Los Angeles, Loud City Song is Holter's first professionally recorded album and it's for the best. On it, Holter's music is catchy in the way St. Vincent's is, whose Marry Me might be the best analogue for Loud City Song as an album that doesn't forsake a pop sensibility for artsy-fartsy eccentricity -- or vice versa. With the fractured theatrics of "World" and "Hello Stranger", Holter sets off her almost-jazzy, almost-showtunish croon against modern classical tones, while "Maxim's I" starts with abstract chamber-pop and imbues it with fairy-tale-like sentimentality. And "Maxim's II", in and of itself, is a showcase of all that Holter is capable of, a fully fleshed-out composition that's as organic as it is dramatic, relying as much on warm horn-and-string arrangements as bold gestures and grand flourishes. It's the best example of how Holter pulls together practice and theory on an album full of 'em.Arnold Pan


Artist: King Krule

Album: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

Label: True Panther


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-24

UK Release Date: 2013-08-24

King Krule
6 Feet Beneath the Moon

It's tempting to think of 18-year-old talent Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, in a singer-songwriter tradition, considering his intimate arrangements and the piercingly observational style of his first-person lyrics. That might just be where Marshall fits, but he's also updating what the classification means as a new-school troubadour influenced as much by hip-hop swagger as he is by folk sensitivity, as much -- actually, if not more so -- by DJ culture as indie conventions. It's both right and wrong to say Marshall's long-awaited full-length debut 6 Feet Beneath the Moon belies his youthfulness: On one hand, Marshall displays such a deft touch with slight elements like strummed guitar, atmospheric synths, and subtle sampling that he seems wise beyond his years in bringing maximal effect out of a minimalist aesthetic, but, on the other, his songwriting method reflects his anything-goes times and the open-minded stage he's at as an emerging artist. Go no further than the opener "Easy Easy" to get a sense of Marshall's eclectic approach, which starts out with moody introspection and atonal picking, but lifts itself in tenor with a lilt of keyboards. Yet what's most impressive about 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is that Marshall's perspective remains intact even as it runs through a broad range of styles and techniques, his vital imagination the connective tissue between the strut of the horn-accented "Lizard State", the starry spareness of "Cementality", and the fragile prettiness of "Baby Blue". If that's what it means to be a singer-songwriter these days, taking advantage of all the tools available to you to tell your stories in a distinctly individual way, then King Krule fits that role as well as anybody. Arnold Pan


Artist: Medicine

Album: To the Happy Few

Label: Captured Tracks


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-06

UK Release Date: 2013-08-06

To the Happy Few

So, apparently, there was another shoegaze band that put out its first record in a couple decades plus earlier in 2013, but the return of Medicine's original lineup after 18 years is one of the true surprise joys of the year, especially considering the quality of their new record, To the Happy Few. Where My Bloody Valentine doubled down on its huge, grinding swaths of sound, Medicine reinvents its here, turning the brittle white noise that shaped The Buried Life and Shot Forth Self Living and softening and sweetening it. Sure, there's the wall of guitars that opens "Long as the Sun" or the static stomp of "It's Not Enough", but both give way to spacier moments, guitars melted at the edges, voices lost in honeyed gauze. Then there are just blissful soaring moments like "The End of the Line" and the tight grinding rhythms mixed with angelic group vocals on "Pull the Trigger". This is an album that will surely remind you of the immense talents Medicine left us with years ago, but it will also surprise you with its new tricks, its new layers, its fresh, vibrant energy. It's easy after a long break to go back to what worked, to deal in nostalgia and cash in on what's expected of you. Medicine, clearly, doesn't care about all that. This is the kind of reunion that feels like a shot in the arm, a fresh start. And To the Happy Few is a hell of a first (or next) step. Matthew Fiander


Artist: No Age

Album: An Object

Label: Sub Pop


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: 2013-08-19

No Age
An Object

No Age might get overlooked among the cohort of trailblazing post-millennial indie acts, but the L.A. duo's impact on noise-rock expermentalism has been palpable. Indeed, you could argue that bash brothers Randy Randall and Dean Spunt helped paved the way for today's garage revival, proving through their rough-hewn, sweat-soaked art-punk that lo-fi could be high concept. And even as time-tested vets, Randall and Spunt still stay ahead of the game on their latest, An Object, where they heighten their melodic sensibilities at the same time that they're upping the headier elements of their sound. An Object highlights everything and in between that's compelling about No Age without simply falling back on the patented power-duo formula the band made its name with, something you notice when you hear the added sharpness and edge to the album. The roaring zoom of "C'mon, Stimmung" is No Age at its catchiest and pithiest, while "I Won't Be Your Generator" and "Defector/ed" push more melodic aspects to the fore without streamlining the grittier, demanding noise play that's always been key to the group's aesthetic. And then there's insinuating "Circling with Dizzy", an exercise in atonal art-rock that would make you miss Sonic Youth if No Age wasn't around pushing and extending that tradition in its own original ways. Arnold Pan


Artist: Ty Segall

Album: Sleeper

Label: Drag City


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: 2013-08-19

Ty Segall

In 2013, we've been given a reissue from Ty Segall's old band the Traditional Fools, a reissue of a rare album he cut with Mikal Cronin, and a single and upcoming record from his new sludgy band Fuzz. But, as far as new stuff on the solo front, Segall has been uncharacteristically quiet. At least, until Sleeper drops. His third official solo release for Drag City will mark a welcome return from the guy who last gave us solo music on the excellent Twins. Segall has used his prolific output over the past few years to hone his songcraft, so the tight, hook-filled tunes that greet you on Sleeper may not be a surprise, but suffice it to say the album isn't interested in treading the same ground as its predecessors. Sleeper is another sign of Segall pushing himself into new songwriting territory and pulling it off with his usual oddball charm. I could describe it all to you, but it won't do the album justice. Just be there on August 20 when the record store opens. You'll want to get this one as soon as you can. Matthew Fiander


Artist: Superchunk

Album: I Hate Music

Label: Merge


Display Width: 200

Display as: List

US Release Date: 2013-08-20

UK Release Date: 2013-08-19

I Hate Music

Along with their pals Yo La Tengo -- who've also had a victory lap this year -- Superchunk is living proof that the good guys can finish first and have the last laugh, even in an indie-rock subculture that has enabled iffy behavior and encouraged ironic detachment from its most prolific performers. No such concerns with Superchunk, whose trademark heart-on-sleeve sound is combined by an uncommon work ethic for doing things the right way, whether you're talking about giving it their all musically or carrying through with best business practices running Merge Records. Superchunk's good-humored earnestness may only be outdone by its reliability as a band, as the quartet has churned out good-to-great albums one after another going on 25 years now. So it's no surprise that I Hate Music is yet another reason to love Superchunk, but what you might not expect is the group's range working within what's a familiar approach. One of the more cleanly produced entries in the Superchunk discography, I Hate Music boasts a sense of variety you don't often find with a long-running act that should be set in its ways, whether it's getting as close as Superchunk has to Springsteen-ish on "Overflows", pogoing like it's the '90s on "Staying Home", or riding an amped-up melody on the power-poppy "Low F". But of course, Superchunk sounds like nothing else more than itself, especially on the front-porch punk-pop gem "Void" and the indie adrenaline rush of "FOH". Arnold Pan

Selected Releases for August 2013

(Release dates subject to change)

August 6

Paul Allen and the Underthinkers, Everywhere at Once (Legacy)

Steve Arrington and Dam-Funk, Higher (Stones Throw)

Natacha Atlas, Habibi: Classics and Collaboration (Nascente)

Barbarossa, Bloodlines (Memphis Industries)

Jake Bellows, New Ocean (Saddle Creek)

The Bug, Filthy (Ninja Tune)

Centuries, Taedium Vitae (Southern Lord)

The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars (Sensibility/Columbia)

Eric Copeland, Joke in the Hole (DFA)

Chick Corea, The Vigil (Concord)

Baudouin de Jaer, Compositions for Geomungo and Gayageum (Sub Rosa)

Dead in the Dirt, Blind Hole (Southern Lord)

Demon Queen, Exorcise Tape (Rad Cult)

Dinosaur Bones, Shaky Dream (Dine Alone)

Ebony Bones, Behold, a Pale Horse (1984)

Empty Flowers, Five (The Path Less Traveled / Atomic Action!)

Exhumed, Necrocracy (Relapse)

Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo (Ola Podrida), Prince Avalanche original soundtrack (Temporary Residence)

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Wassaic Way

Hidden Masters, Of This and Other Worlds (Rise Above/Metal Blade)

Iwrestledabearonce, Late for Nothing (Century)

Hugh Laurie, Didn't It Rain (Warner Bros.)

Lazy, Obsession (Moniker)

Long Lost, Save Yourself, Start Again (No Sleep)

Lowland Hum, Native Air

Christian McBride Trio, Out Here (Mack Avenue)

MINKS, Tides End (Captured Tracks)

Moderat, Moderat II (Mute)

Modern Hut, Generic Treasure (Don Giovanni)

Alexis Penney, Window (Ecstasy)

The Polyphonic Spree, Yes It's True (Good)

Pond, Hobo Rocket (Modular)

Pop. 1280, Imps of Perversion (Sacred Bones)

Elvis Presley, Elvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition (3CDs) (RCA/Legacy)

Rabbit Rabbit, Rabbit Rabbit Radio Volume 1 (Rabbit Rabbit)

Raffertie, Sleep of Reason (Ninja Tune)

Raspberry Bulbs, Deformed Worship (Blackest Ever Black)

Revocation, Revocation (Relapse)

Running, Vaguely Ethnic (Castle Face)

Sinister Realm, World of Evil (Shadow Kingdom)

The Smoking Flowers, 2 Guns

Summer Cannibals, No Makeup (New Moss)

Chris Thile, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 (Nonesuch)

KT Tunstall, Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon (Blue Note)

Wake Island, Use It as a Weapon / Uncomfortable B-Sides

Walking Papers (Duff McKagan), Walking Papers (Loud & Proud)

Jesse Woods, Get Your Burdens Lifted (Guns in the Sun)

August 13

Atropolis, Transitions (Cumba Mela)

The Barn Birds, The Barn Birds (Waterbug)

Bloc Party, The Nextwave Sessions EP (Frenchkiss)

Luke Bryan, Crash My Party (Capitol Nashville)

Glen Campbell, See You There (Surfdog)

Computer Jay, Savage Planet Discotheque, Vol. 2 (Pugilista Trading)

dBridge, Move Way EP (R&S)

Desert Heat, Cat Mask at Huggie Temple (MIE)

Dog Party, Lost Control (Asian Man)

Drowner, You're Beautiful, I Forgive You (Saint Marie)

Eros and the Eschaton, Home Address for the Civil War (Bar/None)

Jagwar Ma, Howlin (Mom+Pop)

Valerie June, Pushin' Against a Stone (Concord)

David Liebe Hart Band, David Liebe Hart Band (Evil Weevil)

La Vega, Wave (Major Nation)

James McVinnie, Cycles (Bedroom Community)

The Moondoggies, Adios I'm a Ghost (Hardly Art)

Sam Phillips, Push Any Button (Littlebox)

Ras G, Back on the Planet (Brainfeeder)

Scott & Charlene's Wedding, Any Port in a Storm (Fire)

Transitshop, Velocity (Rock Ridge)

Tree, Demons EP (Apollo)

Various Artists, The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976 (2CDs) (Omnivore)

Washed Out, Paracosm (Sub Pop)

White Lies, Big TV (Harvest)

Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, Dig Thy Savage Soul (Bloodshot)

XNY, Orange

Yellowcard, Ocean Avenue Acoustic (Hopeless)

August 20

Army Navy, The Crushed EP

Andrew Belle, Black Bear

Bent Shapes, Feels Weird (Father/Daughter)

Blue October, Sway

Braids, Flourish // Perish (Full Time Hobby)

BT, A Song Across Wires (Armada)

Carousel, Jeweler's Daughter (Tee Pee)

Carta, The Faults Follow (Saint Marie)

Causa Sui, Euporie Tide (El Paraiso)

Crocodiles, Crimes of Passion (Frenchkiss)

The Delta Mirror, Better Unsung (Lightwave)

Destruction Unit, Deep Trip (Sacred Bones)

Lee Dewyze, Frames (Vanguard)

DIANA, DIANA (Jagjaguwar)

Earl Sweatshirt, Doris (Odd Future)

Tim Easton, Not Cool (Thirty Tigers)

Golden Suits, Golden Suits (Yep Roc)

The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun (Darling Street)

Gross Relations, Gross Relations (Old Flame)

His Electro Blue Voice, Ruthless Sperm (Sub Pop)

Horseback, A Plague of Knowing (Relapse)

The Horse's Ha, Waterdrawn (Fluff & Gravy)

House of Black Lanterns, Kill the Lights (Houndstooth)

kandodo, k2o (Thrill Jockey)

Daniel Kirkpatrick and the Bayonets, Alibis (Rock Ridge)

Kim Lenz and the Jaguars, Follow Me (Riley)

The Lumineers, The Lumineers deluxe edition (Dualtone)

Willy Mason, Carry On (Communion)

John Mayer, Paradise Valley (Columbia)

Mountains, Mountains Mountains Mountains (reissue) (Thrill Jockey)

Sarah Neufeld, Hero Brother (Constellation)

The New Gary Burton Quartet, Mack Avenue

O'Brother, Disillusion (Triple Crown)

Oathbreaker, Eros/Anteros (Deathwish Inc.)

Paper Lions, My Friends (Fountain Pop)

Theo Parrish, Black Jazz Signature (Snow Dog)

Porcelain Raft, Permanent Signal (Secretly Canadian)

Primitive Man, Scorn (Relapse)

Pure Bathing Culture, Moon Tides (Partisan)

Ben Rector, The Walking in Between (Aptly Named)

Shigeto, No Better Time Than Now (Ghostly International)

Ski Lodge, Big Heart (Dovecote)

Snow Ghosts, A Small Murmuration (Houndstooth)

Still Life Still, Mourning Trance (Arts & Crafts)

Venom P. Stinger, 1986-1991 Compilation (Drag City)

Willie Sugarcapps, Willie Sugarcapps (The Royal Potato Family)

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks)

TGT, Three Kings (Atlantic)

Tessa Torrence, Fear No Evil

Tosca-Tlapa, The Odeon Remixes (!K7)

Allen Toussaint, Songbook (Rounder)

Travis, Where You Stand (Red Telephone Box)

Alexander von Mehren, Aéropop (The Control Group)

Various Artists, The Big E: A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons (MPI)

Laura Veirs, Warp & Weft (Raven Marching Band)

Zola Jesus, Versions (Sacred Bones)

August 27

Sam Baker, Say Grace

The Beach Boys, Made in California (6 CD) (Capitol)

Belle and Sebastian, Third Eye Centre (singles compilation) (Matador)

Blackfield, Blackfield IV (Kscape)

The Coal Men, Escalator (Aimless)

Colette, When the Music's Loud (Candy Talk)

Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 (Legacy)

Fevers, No Room for Light

Roberto Fonseca, Yo (Concord Jazz)

Forest Swords, Engravings (Tri Angle)

Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino)

John Frusciante, Outsides EP (Record Collection)

Robbie Fulks, Gone Away Backward (Bloodshot)

Ghost Wave, Ages (Flying Nun)

Goodie Mob, Age Against the Machine (Alliance)

Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, Dance of the Cobra (Riverboat/World Music Network)

Juicy J, Stay Trippy (Columbia)

Amel Larrieux, Ice Cream Everyday (Blissli)

Black Joe Lewis, Electric Slave (Vagrant)

Austin Lucas, Stay Reckless (New West)

Lumerians, High Frontier (Partisan)

Maps for Travelers, Change Your Name (No Sleep)

Dent May, Warm Blanket (Paw Tracks)

Michael Monroe, Horns and Halos (Spinefarm)

Pharaohs, Manhunter (Intercoastal Artists)

The Rides, Can't Get Enough (429)

Sly and the Family Stone, Higher! (4 CD) (Legacy)

Foy Vance, Joy of Nothing (Glassnote)

Yoshiki, Yoshiki Classical

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

Next Page
Related Articles Around the Web

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Noel Fielding (Daniel) and Mercedes Grower (Layla) (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back in time to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

People aren't cheering Supergirl on here. They're not thanking her for her heroism, or even stopping to take a selfie.

It's rare for any hero who isn't Superman to gain the kind of credibility that grants them the implicitly, unflinching trust of the public. In fact, even Superman struggles to maintain that credibility and he's Superman. If the ultimate paragon of heroes struggles with maintaining the trust of the public, then what hope does any hero have?

Keep reading... Show less

The Paraguay-born, Brooklyn-based indie pop artist MAJO wraps brand new holiday music for us to enjoy in a bow.

It's that time of year yet again, and with Christmastime comes Christmas tunes. Amongst the countless new covers of holiday classics that will be flooding streaming apps throughout the season from some of our favorite artists, it's always especially heartening to see some original writing flowing in. Such is the gift that Paraguay-born, Brooklyn-based indie pop songwriter MAJO is bringing us this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.