This week in dance music: Liquid Stranger closed out Mental Health Awareness month with an op-ed about how martial arts its values help him to be a better artist and human; we got the exclusive on scorching hot EDC Las Vegas sets from LP Giobbi, Sam Divine and Kaleena Zanders; we broke down the seven best emerging artists we saw at Lightning In a Bottle 2022; the copyright drama between Alok and Sevenn continued, with Sevenn filing copyright claims against Alok in Brazilian court; we reported on the 13 (!) best sets we saw at Movement 2022; and Flume’s new LP Palaces hit No. 1 on dance/electronic albums.
And new music? You know it. Let’s dig in.
What So Not Feat. Oliver Tree & Killer Mike, “Mr. Regular”
It’s one thing to make a song with Mr. King Weirdo Oliver Tree, and it’s another thing entirely to make a track with Mr. Revolutionary Bars Killer Mike, but What So Not is something completely different, putting both these larger-than-life personalities on a track that pulls all three from their comfort zones and stacks cascading heart-open verses over a half-time, head-knockin’ beat.
“It’s one of the biggest songs I’ve ever been part of, tied up in red tape for too long. I know how much the fans and community want this one,” What So Not says. “I showed Mike the demo after working on a bootleg/remix for his project Run The Jewels. ‘Mr. Regular’ is about the difficulty that we face through our childhood and career progression as clueless superior figures try to control and shape our path.”
“Mr. Regular” serves as the lead single for What So Not’s forthcoming sophomore album, Anomaly, due out Sept. 16 on Counter and Sweat It Out. The full LP features Louis The Child, Evan Giia, MØ and more. Get acquainted with the vibe shift, and look out for more. – Kat Bein
Sidepiece & Lee Foss, “1, 2 Step”
In 2004, you couldn’t step into a club (or a school function) without dancing to Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” like you were the star of your own You Got Served film. Nearly two decades later, such noughties hits are all the rave – er, rage – for tech house re-tunings, and Sidepiece and Lee Foss are the latest to give nostalgia club sheen with their own “1, 2 Step” single.
Together, the trio amp up the already-sweat-inducing original with briskly paced hi-hats, adrenaline-jacking snare drum rolls and squelching synths, but the singability stays strong with Ciara’s catchy (albeit deepened and slightly sped-up) vocals. Conclusion: it is indeed automatic, supersonic, hypnotic and funky fresh. A highlight of Sidepiece’s EDC Las Vegas set last month, “1,2 Step” is out now on Insomniac Records. — Krystal Rodriguez
Thomas Jack, “Sandman”
In the mid-2010s, Aussie producer Thomas Jack pioneered the tropical house genre alongside artists like Kygo and Matoma. Then, he disappeared. After a five-year hiatus, Jack is back today (June 3) with a vibe-y and decidedly non-tropical new single, “Sandman.” As it turns out, the producer has spent his time away from the tour scene cultivating a new talent, and one that’s a cornerstone of the new single and additional forthcoming music: his voice.
“I was thinking about what is it that makes music special and I realized it’s really about the voice,” Jack says. “Look at Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury, once they are gone you can’t recreate that. I thought that If I can focus on my voice being on the music then the genre becomes my voice and I can be in a lane of my own. I couldn’t sing at all.”
To remedy that little issue, Jack spent years taking voice lessons, which clearly paid off. His voice is the cornerstone of Sandman, a sexy, slinky jam inspired by MGMT and INXS that kicks off the new chapter of Jack’s career. — Katie Bain
Swardy, “Compact Objects”
You know that voice in your head that says everything needs to be perfect? That voice that thinks it’s doing you a favor, but it’s really holding you back? It’s time to give that voice a vacation. Swardy’s latest tune “Compact Objects” is the theme song for putting that voice in the backseat and taking a leap of faith into the creative void. It’s a feel-good synth soundtrack for the superhero that is your own daring, and it was exactly that for the L.A.-based Swardy as he embarked on a mission to teach himself 3D animation. Not only did he succeed and release the Compact Objects animated short film, he also pushed himself to create an album to go with it. “Compact Objects” is the lead single and title track, and while you can hear snippets of the album songs in the animated short, you’ll have to wait for June 7 to hear the whole LP. – K. Bein
Purple Disco Machine & Bosq Feat. Kaleta, “Wake Up!”
You could call Purple Disco Machine’s recent run — which includes a predictably funky remix of Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” — a hot streak, but the fact is, pretty much everything the producer has ever released has been scorching dance floor fun. This triumphant jaunt through the global dance scene (and your speakers) continues with his latest, “Wake Up!” an Afrobeats-oriented track featuring Boston-based disco and funk producer Bosq and vocals from West African singer and guitarist Kaleta. PDM debuted the track this past April at Coachella and is taking the slice of pure joy on the road for a European summer tour that includes dates at Parklife, Lollapalooza Sweden and Tomorrowland. — K. Bain
Jungle, “Good Times” / “Problemz”
When making their third album Loving in Stereo, UK duo Jungle fully realized their sound by putting an end to their overthinking and letting their creative juices flow. It’s a process that served them well: since its release last August, the LP topped Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart (Aug. 28) and hit No. 3 on the UK Albums chart.
Less than a year out and just in time for summer, Jungle are back with more of those feel-good vibes on double-single “Good Times” / “Problemz.” “Good Times” is soul brimming with groovy nostalgia, solar-powered by transcendent group vocals, tambourines, a funky bass line and euphoric “woo-hoo” ad-libs. Meanwhile, “Problemz” drops the tempo for something a little more laidback and flirty, with swelling synth strings peaking at just the right moments. For the full experience, check out the double-single’s music video above.
When asked by Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about Jungle’s evolved sound, member J replied, “It’s getting more carefree… It’s weird. With Jungle it was always sort of vaguely carefree but there was this kind of little bit of angst in it from the early days. It’s just now getting to a point where it really feels like that; it really feels like how it was always meant to be… I think we’re just realizing those things in the sonics.” — K.R.
Alway Centered At Night Feat. Moby & Aynzli Jones, “medusa”
A thick, six-minute amalgamation of D&B and UK rave, “medusa” marks the lead single from Moby’s new label, Always Centered At Night. Featuring rich, soulful vocals from Kingston-based artist Aynzli Jones, the song is not designed to track chart success of streaming numbers, instead existing just for the sake of art itself — the prevailing ethos for output from the imprint.
“There’s so much fear out there,” says Moby. “I talk to my friends who are creatives and it breaks my heart because they don’t trust themselves anymore. It seems like the only criteria is: ‘Can I sell this to a corporation? Will a corporation pay me to make it? Will I get enough “shares” and “likes”?’ What happened to the idea that art and culture should be a contemptuous refuge from the mainstream, as opposed to this lickspittle, running dog accommodation to the mainstream? And so what I have to say to artists I want to work with is: ‘Look. We’re trying to make something unique, idiosyncratic, and personal and the music and lyrics don’t need to explain themselves. They can be obscure, they can be whatever you want them to be.’”
Label releases will exist only in digital format, with Moby adding that ” I’d rather make and put out music that is special to ten people, than ubiquitous to millions.” If this song is special to you, know that it also comes with a trio of remixes. — K. Bain