First Spin: The Week's Best New Dance Tracks From Bicep, DJ Snake, Machinedrum & More

DJ Snake
Sami Drasin

DJ Snake photographed on July 20, 2018 at Seven Magic Mountains in Las Vegas.

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 into the digital crates to present absolute must-hears from the wide breadth of fresh jams. 

Another week, another batch of fresh music from the sprawling world of dance music. The past seven days have delivered a new album, The Ringmaster, from the always delightful Bakermat, a new Tchami x Gunna collab, Nora En Pure remixing German artist Oliver Schories and producer David Dann's first new production in seven years.

And yes, you're darn right there's more, with the genre-spanning collection of new tracks below that are about to heat up the weekend. Let's dig in.

Bicep, "Apricots"

One of the neatest tricks of electronic music is its ability to grab samples from anywhere and whip them into entirely fresh music. So it goes with "Apricots," the latest from the always excellent Belfast-bred, London-based duo Bicep. The single amalgamates a recording of traditional Malawian singing recorded in 1958 by famed ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey and a 1950s-era performance by The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir into an urgent and rather hypnotic body-mover. Should these samples make sense together? Maybe not? Do they? I mean, just listen.

"Apricots" is the lead single from Bicep's forthcoming sophomore LP Isles, coming January 22 via Ninja Tune and exploring thoughts and emotions related to their upbringing in Northern Ireland. "We have strong mixed emotions, connected to growing up on an island,” the duo say in a statement. “Wanting to leave, wanting to return." The simple and haunting video for "Apricots" was directed Mark Jenkins, winner of the 2020 BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Director for his 2019 film Bait.

Audrey Nuna, "damn Right Pt. 2" (DJ Snake Remix)

New Jersey-born Korean/American rapper Audrey Nuna has gotten a lot of accolades lately, with the latest big-up coming from DJ Snake, the French producer with the Midas touch. (Three of Snake's tracks have hit a billion plays on Spotify.) In his second song of 2020, he takes Nuna's September single "damn right" and turns the ominousness all the way up, with loads of bass, high hats and other sort of pleasantly threatening sounding flourishes. A festival banger if ever there was one, this one should be filed in your exercise playlist immediately.

Machinedrum Feat. Sub Focus, "1000 Miles"

Scene hero Machindrum today releases his ninth studio LP, A View of U, out via Ninja Tune. The project touches on myriad genres including jungle, bass, IDM and features a smart collection of collaborators like Freddie Gibbs, Chrome Sparks and Sub Focus, the latter of whom collabs on the shimmery DnB floater "1000 Miles," which manages both beauty and heft. With the "U" in the album's title representing the universe itself, you can bet that the producer was inspired by some heady stuff while making the LP.

“I view myself from outside myself with love and admiration, proud of all my achievements as well as the wisdom I've gained from failures,” he says in a statement of the meditation practice that helped him complete the album. “It is from this out of body place of loving awareness and non judgement that I am able to objectively look at all my behaviors, thoughts, feelings and emotions.”

Jax Jones feat. Au/Ra, "i miss u"

Breakups stick. Especially when it was you that broke up with your one-time flame, only to later realize that you made a big ol' mistake and that they're now happy with a hot new lover while you're wallowing around in the murky depths of your feelings.

This age old tale is the subject of "i miss u" from English producer Jax Jones and Antiguan/German vocalist Au/Ra, who sings, "I only miss you when I open my eyes and I breathe." So, that's a lot. The beauty of this club heater is that it makes heartache sound kinda sexy, with the deep house production counterbalancing the sentiments of deep regret.

Cloonee, "Let's Rave"

Let's face it, a lot of current dance music sounds like it was all sourced from the same sample pack and flung halfheartedly onto Soundcloud. Not so with "Let's Rave," the newest from English producer Cloonee. Her, he takes a dirty, bouncy, dirtybird-esque 4/4 and adds some thick low end beats, a few sort of squishier-sounding flourishes and the simple directive of "let's rave, let's dance," weaving it into a delightful little tech house banger out now via Chris Lake's Black Book Records.

Armin van Buuren Feat. Jake Reese, "Need You Now"

Are those disco strings we hear? And piano stabs? And a voice that sounds a bit like Seal's but is actually that of Dutch singer Jake Reese? Yes! Yes! And yes! Proving he's far more than a trance titan, Armin van Buuren today drops a swirling melodic house anthem made wonderfully huge with all of the aforementioned elements. "It’s another tune about love," the Dutch producer isays in a statement, "because I know that’s precisely what you guys need!” Indeed, in this uncertain time, there's something kind of soothing about Armin van Buuren knowing what we need better than we do.