First Spin: The Week's Best New Dance Tracks From Rezz & Grabbitz, Diplo & Wax Motif, Baauer, Apashe & More

Austin Hargrave

REZZ photographed on March 15, 2019 at Neighbourhood Studios in Toronto.

New Music Friday is intense. Hundreds of songs drop from artists around the world, and you're supposed to somehow find the best ones. It's fun work, but it's time-consuming -- so we at Billboard Dance want to give you a hand. Each week, we sift through the streams and dig in the digital crates to present the absolute must-hears from the wide breadth of jams.

So much new music, so much time on our hands to listen to it.

This week saw the big release of Alesso and Liam Payne's anthem "Midnight," the four-disc LP from legend John Digweed, new heat  from Deadmau5' BSOD project, trance magic from Andrew Rayel, and all of the goods below. Let's dig in.

Rezz & Grabbitz, "Someone Else"

It makes a lot of sense for sonically brooding Rezz to make an emo track. "Someone Else," a collaboration with Los Angeles rock/electronic musician and singer Grabbitz, starts with plodding guitar and Grabbitz's brokenhearted/bitter musings on realizing you never really know the person you used to love, and how that individual is someone you now actually hate. This moment of clarity is highlighted with heavy production courtesy of Rezz, who adds her  sleek, spooky bass to the chorus and build. Altogether, these two artists coming together for a song about love being hell is a match made in electronic heaven. As of now, Rezz's third annual Rezz Rocks event is still on the calendar for Sept. 3-4 at Denver's Red Rock Amphitheatre. -- KATIE BAIN

Diplo & Wax Motif, “Love to the World”

Even when he’s stuck at home like many of us, Diplo is finding ways to stay busy. In the midst of a variety show’s worth of live-streams, collaborating (as part of Major Lazer) with Mumford & Sons and dream-casting his version of Tiger King, the recent Billboard cover star has made a rare outing on his Higher Ground imprint. As with his previous appearances (“Samba Sujo” with Born Dirty, “On My Mind” with Sidepiece), Diplo is tag teaming it, this time with Wax Motif on “Love to the World.” Built around a vocal sample from LTD’s 1976 single of the same name, the collab is a mellow disco-house groover with breezy sax, bright guitar riffs and a deep, funky bass line. You can almost feel the ocean spray and smell the sunscreen. Almost. -- KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Will Clarke, “Hallelujah”

“You might have some problems, you might be going through things but still rejoice, you know it’s going to all be over,” Candi Staton told Defected Records of the resonant takeaway from her 2012 single, “Hallelujah Anyway.” Powered by the iconic singer’s raw, soulful vocals, it soaks through your skin, grips your heart and lifts it to the sky. Simply put, it’s a song that makes you feel, which makes it perfect sampling material for Will Clarke. The Bristolian announced to Billboard Dance earlier this year his new All We Have Is Now record label, which he said would focus on “vocally driven music with techno influences.” His latest single, “Hallelujah,” takes Staton’s gospel-disco original into darker, heavier territory, with a relentless kick drum and brooding synth chords that evoke images of a shadowy, haunted church. Still, Staton’s vocals ring out clear as day, bringing with it a necessary light. -- K.R.

Baauer, “Planet's Mad / Magic”

Baauer is back, baby, and he is not playing games with you freaks. The New York-based producer best known for “Harlem Shake” is truly one of the biggest talents on the scene. We at Billboard named his debut LP, Aa, as one of the best dance albums of the decade. Four years after its release, we finally have a follow up. Planet's Mad turns away from star-studded collaborations and returns to electronic roots. It's a concept album, exploring an apocalyptic sci-fi narrative wherein an alien planet comes to visit ours. It's set for full release on June 5 via Lucky Me Records, but this week, we got our first taste of bass.

A double-single video, directed by Rick Farin and Claire Cochran, introduces Mad Planet's world. The first half shows Baauer exploring Times Square after the aliens have landed. The city dives into madness at the proof of extra-planetary existence, perfectly soundtracked by “Mad Planet's” riotous, rock-tinged booms. B-side “Magic” takes the second act. It's tribal rhythms and queer synth textures bring the alien world to life. This is only the beginning, and we can't wait to hear where Baauer takes his intergalactic adventure and hybrid electronic sound next. -- KAT BEIN

Nina Las Vegas feat. Thai Chi Rosè, "Impossible"

The first track of 2020 from Nina Las Vegas masterfully balances ominous, steel-drum laden verses with a melodic and much lighter chorus, with London-based rapper Thai Chi Rosé handling vocals and Las Vegas also incorporating a pitched up version of her own voice. “She was performing with her crew Skwod and her energy just blew me away," Las Vegas says in a statement of meeting the British-Jamaican rapper, singer and MC. "We jumped in the studio the next week and I made her write to my beat and it just connected so fast. Maybe one of the easiest songs I've ever written!” The track is out via the Australian producer's own NLV Records. -- K. Bain

Apashe, “Lord & Master”

The word “epic” gets thrown around a lot, minimizing the effect, but Apashe's new album Renaissance is truly Homer-esque. It's an incredibly dynamic offering, ranging from bittersweet ballads to ear-bleeding bass assaults, head-knockin' hip-hop beats, hardstyle bangers, cool creeper future bass, and so many cinematic classical wonders.

“Classical music is so pure and electronic music is so raw, I have always loved to fuse them together,” Apashe tells Billboard Dance. “For this album, I tried to do what has barely been done before in the electronic music scene: Compose with a (69-piece) symphonic orchestra, extract its epic-ness and delicacy, then blend it with something big and rough.”

Many of Renaissance's 13 tracks were previously released, so we're highlighting deep cut “Lord & Master.” It's a monstrous mood, opening with subtle deep bass clarinet notes followed by a romantic woodwind and string arrangement. It pulls at your heart, then punches you in the gut with a roar of dubstep. It juxtaposes elements of hard and soft against a drop that punctuates cacophonous booms with sudden silence, illustrating a story of how money and excess comes with a shadowy price. It's one high mark on a rapturous ride. Give the whole LP a spin. -- K. Bein

Red Axes, "Break the Limit"

The Tel Aviv-based duo of Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi, have crossed genres as diverse as darkwave and deep house over the course of their decade-long career. On "Break the Limit," the second single from their forthcoming self-titled full-length, they find the beat in the space between EBM (electronic body music) and techno. The track begins with a serving of minimal, dark vibes that build to a frenetic, almost paranoid, acid-tinged, industrial peak. It's the sound of a long night inside a warehouse party encapsulated into a single song that clocks in at less than four minutes. -- LIZ OHANESIAN


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