This week, we did a deep dive into South Africa’s amapiano scene and heard from a roundtable of dance event promoters, who shared their experiences of getting shows back in motion amidst the lingering pandemic.
We also saw Illenium and Swedish House Mafia make moves on the dance/electronic charts, with Illenium’s new LP Fallen Embers debuting at No. 1 on Top Dance/Electronic Albums and both of Swedish House Mafia’s new singles debuting on Dance/Electronic Songs.
Beyond all that, we’ve got new music, from house to techno to tech house to melodic house and beyond. Let’s dig in.
Fisher, “Just Feels Tight”
Since blowing up in 2018 with his peak time anthem “Losing It,” Fisher’s brand has been defined by equal parts zaniness, shamelessness and big-time tech house heat. That winning equation is roughly similar on the Australian producer’s first track of 2021, “Just Feels Tight,” in which he delivers the same sort of bouncy, bass-laden and thoroughly undeniable sound that he’s made his name on, and which here oscillates between sparer sections and walls of squelchy synth. The song’s video finds Fisher playing an intense (and half-naked) aerobics instructors in a room full of scantily clad women, in a slick homage to the video for Eric Prydz’s 2004 all-time classic, “Call On Me.” Does it all work? Yes, it all works. — KATIE BAIN
Pusher, “Back in Time”
Things to do today: Go back in time; kill Hitler, steal all the greatest songs and write them first — or, you could skip all that and just listen to Pusher’s new song “Back in Time.” It’s a groovy, synth-riddled, pop-culture explosion that admits our time is pretty much a living nightmare, and we might as well just go back to 1989 when video games were pixelated, climate change was some kind of “what if,” and pop radio featured a lot of sax. The official music video channels classic comics and a lot of TV, movie and music references to tell a story just as ridiculous, and just as fun, as its inspirations.
“’Back in Time’ is a song about nostalgia for a simpler time to escape the troubles of the present — selectively forgetting that no point in the past was as wonderfully pure as we sometimes want to imagine,” Pusher says in a press release. “The music video — created by Occupied VR (who also did the video for my last single “Advertising”) — has me playing over a dozen characters, and tells the story of a musician being summoned by the Time Council to go on a time travel quest to recruit the greatest band possible (or at least some musicians/movie references) in order to prove the value of musicians to the capitalistic robot overlords of the far-flung future.”
This is Pusher’s fourth single from his forthcoming debut album Stay-at-Home Popstar, which tackles all kinds of relatable topics, like phone addictions and the inescapable grasp of commercialism, all over really catchy electronic melodies. It’s due out later this year. — KAT BEIN
Elderbrook & Bob Moses, “Inner Light”
It’s subtle, but if you really pay attention to the lyrics of Elderbook and Bob Moses’ new collaborative track “Inner Light,” you’ll hear that the song is both a lush, emotionally evocative melodic house record that brings out the best of each act’s respective talents, and also a dance tutorial. “You want to dance?,” Bob Moses’ Jimmy Vallance sings. “You don’t know how to get it on the floor, man don’t hold back for anyone. Close your eyes and just follow the inner light, you count on me.”
This sturdy pep talk follows the song’s theme of, Elderbrook says, “someone that’s too self-conscious to dance. The person asking them realizes that they are unsure but tells them ‘don’t worry about it, trust your instincts’ and follow your ‘inner-light.’”
May we all meet such a someone so kind the next time we’re not entirely feeling ourselves on the floor. “Inner Light” is the lead single from Elderbook’s forthcoming sophomore album, which will also features collaborations with Kölsch and Louis the Child. Meanwhile, Elderbrook’s North American tour launches this Sunday (August 1) with a set at Lollapalooza and extends through October. — K. Bein
Catz ‘n Dogz, “First Night Out”
Following releases on DFTD, Sweat It Out and Misfit Melodies, Polish duo Catz ‘n Dogz have landed on Eats Everything’s Edible label with First Night Out. The titular A-side is a booming hybrid of techno, tech house and hip-house, meshing stomping kickdrums and hissing hi-hats with scrambling synth lines and a Stallion-esque rap vocal peppered with “huhs,” “oohs” and other adlibs (stuck-out tongue sadly not included). Just when you’ve settled comfortably into the groove, a blaring foghorn and searing siren pull you back into the present. “Oh my god,” the rapper squeals, “this is crazy!” On the flip-side, Eats isolates and expands on the original’s off-kilter sounds for a dubbed-out cut fit for the afterhours. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Pennywild, “Side Streets”
It’s been a minute since we piled into an Uber or Lyft with our friends, drunkenly asked the poor driver for their aux cord and screeched about how excited we are to hit the club. Thankfully, Pennywild’s thumping club jam “Side Streets” is a visceral reminder of vodka breath, twisted seat belts and Friday night elation. From the first car horn to the final techno synth line, “Side Streets” hits all the hallmarks of a Los Angeles partygoer adventure.
“Side Streets is my love letter to the pre-game commute,” Pennywild says. “Led by a bouncy, old-school bass line, this underground tune is the soundtrack to your euphoric night out.” It’s actually just one chapter in a forthcoming tale called Night People, an EP due out later this year that captures the energy of underground club life from a pre-game to a drag show, the afterparty and more. Keep an eye out, and please Side Street responsibly. — K. Bein
Mano Le Tough, “Together”
“I was there and you were, too… together,” a faraway voice reminisces on Mano Le Tough’s “Together.” The latest single from the Irish producer’s forthcoming album At the Moment can be summed up in his own words: “rave nostalgia.” Produced shortly before Covid shut the world down, Le Tough says in a statement that watching a video of fellow DJ Sven Väth performing at Germany’s infamous Love Parade festival, last held in 2010, got him thinking about “the passing of youth and those moments lost in time. When the pandemic arrived, it made the tune hit harder on an emotional level. It’s about togetherness and equally about separation.”
“Together,” appropriately, sounds both wistful and hopeful. Between the crystalline sonics and heavens-touching trance synths, there’s a fragility and brightness here; listen real closely and maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear the whoops, whistles and crowd cheers of festivals past. — K.R.