This week in dance music: The new Avicii biography delivered revelations about the producer’s life and legacy; Ed Banger boss Busy P remembered his friend, the late DJ Mehdi, and released this first new Mehdi track in more than a decade. Jonas Blue and Why Don’t We debuted on Dance/Electronic Songs with their single “Don’t Wake Me Up;” the venerable Ultra Records appointed a new president; the author of the aforementioned Avicii bio spoke with Billboard about how the book is “in a lot of ways a positive story,” and the Brazilian duo Sevenn alleged that superstar producer Alok didn’t pay or credit them for many of their collaborations.
This week also delivers a flurry of fresh tracks, from house to techno to bass and beyond. Let’s dig in.
Honey Dijon feat. Dave Giles II, Cor.Ece & Mike Dunn, “Work”
“Work,” the latest single from Honey Dijon’s much-awaited album Black Girl Magic, is a party in every way. Its music video is a flashing, neon-lined display of gracefully uninhibited dancers. It’s also a Classic Music Company reunion, with co-production from the London label’s co-founder Luke Solomon and additional vocals from Mike Dunn and Dave Giles II of Dave + Sam. Like previous singles “La Femme Fantastique” and “Downtown,” “Work” is a red-light vibe made for late nights in steaming basements. The deep, assertive spoken word and stomping percussion give burly muscle to pillowy piano keys and curly-cueing sax riffs. No matter how much you’re sweating or how hard you’re stepping, the constant baritone calls to “work… work for me” will encourage you to give just that much more to the dance floor. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Fred again.., Romy & HAAi, “Lights Out”
2021 breakout star Fred again.. keeps the white hot momentum going with this first new music of the year, a power trio collaboration with Romy from The xx and Australian born, London-based producer HAAi, whose 2018 Essential Mix was voted the best of that year. Alternately skittering, spare, full and outfitted flashy synth and an urgent siren, the track is a sophisticated, massively energizing base for Romy’s signature voice, which she uses here to sing about the enduring pleasure of dancing with the lights out. Arguably the best peak time anthem of the year thus far, this one might inspire you to partake in this pleasure of getting down in the dark as well. “Lights Out” comes on the heels of Fred again..’s debut on the Coachella lineup; he’s also nominated for a 2022 Grammy for his writing work on Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits.” — KATIE BAIN
Themba feat. Thoko, “Reflections” (Black Coffee Remix)
Have you kept up with your new year’s resolutions? If you need a little motivation, we humbly suggest jamming to Black Coffee’s new remix of his buddy Themba’s tune “Reflections.” The original, from the South African producer’s 2021 album, Modern Africa, Part I, is a sweetly sweeping ode to the inspiring moments that lead us to make real changes in our lives. Strings, piano and soft percussion create a powerful backdrop for Thoko’s soulful vocals. Of course, as is to be expected, Black Coffee’s version reinterprets this strong single into a grooved-up slice of progressive house bliss.
“We are excited to be kicking off the year together with a remix of ‘Reflections,” Themba and Black Coffee say. “The song encapsulates beauty and ease — two themes we should all be bringing into 2022. We’re just getting started.” This take on “Reflections” is the fourth remix from Modern Africa, Part 1. Check it out, and look for more from both South African producers in the weeks and months to come. – KAT BEIN
Slushii feat. Mackenzie Sol, “After Midnight”
Falling for your best friend is always a little awkward — just ask TikTok celeb and pop singer Mackenzie Sol. He got in the studio with Slushii and wrote a demo so full of unrequited emotion that the candy-bass producer immediately decided to build a full song around it.
“Mackenzie and I made ‘After Midnight’ the first night we met,” Slushii says. “Mackenzie had a demo for a song that he wrote, and I absolutely loved the vocal. The visuals for the song have a Batman dark feeling to it, similar to the final battle in a superhero movie. That’s the vibe I wanted to convey with this one.”
“This song is about falling in love with a friend who has no clue you have feelings for them, and the fear that comes with telling them and potentially ruining the friendship,” Sol says. “I wrote this song from my own personal experience of having feelings for a close friend. I still haven’t told her how I feel. Maybe one day after midnight I’ll tell her.”
Out via Monstercat, the bass-forward jam is from Slushii’s forthcoming album Extinction Level Event, due out in March. Play it loud and proud in front of your crush and see if they catch on. – K. Bein
Sofia Kourtesis feat. Manu Chao, “Estación Esperanza”
In the follow-up to last year’s Fresia Magdalena EP, Peruvian artist Sofia Kourtesis is back with a new track “Estación Esperanza” featuring French-Spanish singer Manu Chao. Kourtesis’ knack for soft, textured and organic-sounding electronics makes the “Estación Esperanza” feel like an early preview of spring. Built upon a foundation of ringing bells and a streaming synth undertow, it brings the outdoors in through sprightly bird chirps. With Chao and Kourtesis’ soothing vocals, the track (out via Ninja Tune) feels warm and comforting; the sonic equivalent of sun hitting your face after standing in the shadows.
“‘Estación Esperanza’ is all about hope,” Kourtesis writes. “I’m hopeful my mother will get better, I’m hopeful the world will begin to heal, I’m hopeful this song will bring you light on dark days. I first wrote this song after listening to Manu Chao. To me Manu Chao has always represented hope, his lyrics were like a bible to me growing up. This song is for him, my mother and all those activists working hard to make this world better… never lose hope!” — K.R.
Duo Kasablanca debuts its first original track on Anjunabeats via “Immunity,” a sleekly propulsive slice of melodic techno that winds up hard and releases with power. The track, the first single from Kasablanca’s Immunity EP out on March 18, sees the duo’s profile continue to rise, with their 2020 Lane 8 collaboration “Run” garnering 18 million Spotify streams and the guys earning a spot opening for REZZ at her Red Rocks show this past September. In this dead of winter, let this one wash over you like a warm wave. — K. Bain