James Murphy, we love you, but your announcement of LCD Soundsystem’s final show is bringing us down. Appealing to our hearts and dancing shoes alike is no easy task, but luckily, robots and their organic counterparts seem to be getting along better than ever these days. We’ve assembled a list of the lushest, most infectious electronic pop purveyors for your consideration, and even if you don’t fall in love overnight, it’ll be therapeutic to try. We promise.
Those Brits have always known how to drive you dance-floor crazy better than most of us on this side of the pond, and London university pals Dominic Maker and Kai Campos are no exception. While we’re reluctant to throw around terms like “post-dubstep,” Mount Kimbie possess a self-awareness and sense of structure that separates them from the mindless, glowstick-waving masses. The beats are pristine, but the benevolent warmth threaded throughout songs like “Would Know” remind you that two humans are truly in charge of the chaos. Crooks & Lovers is out now on Hotflush.
We knew we had something special as soon as we heard Braids at our CMJ 2010 Day Party. Palpably electronic blips and percussion give Braids’ heartfelt indie pop a set of teeth, setting them apart from the fresh-faced Canadian overflow. If you and your three best friends skipped college to start a band, it’s unlikely that your story would go their way, but Braids exemplify the post-adolescent dream. You just can’t be too sweet. Native Speaker dropped last month on Kanine Records.
If you haven’t heard of the UK’s James Blake yet, you must be studiously ignoring year-end lists of 2010. His cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” shows off his gorgeous, soulful voice and piano chops, but Blake is also an incredible electronic producer. Sound familiar? Without beating the comparison to death, we’ll give you another example of Blake’s versatility with “Air and Lack Thereof,” his debut 12″ vinyl. James Blake’s first full-length album, James Blake , was released this week on R&S.
Girl’s already opening for Chromeo without a proper album released, so she’s got to be doing something right. Largely headed up by Amanda Warner with help from Peter Wade, MNDR got a bit of attention after appearing on Mark Ronson’s track “Bang Bang Bang,” from the album Record Collection. It’s one thing to have a killer set of pipes, and still more impressive to have no need for a genius producer… Warner’s the total package. “Fade to Black” is from MNDR’s 2010 EP, E.P.E., and a full-length should be coming out any week now.
No, it’s not 1997 again. Kathleen Hanna is back in action and promising to write a brand-new album with the newly formed Julie Ruin, a moniker that used to be associated with a solo four-track recording she made in her bedroom. If there’s anyone who knows how to get our feet moving and our brains churning, it’s this mother of all riot grrrls, who’s been sorely missed since Le Tigre went on hiatus in 2004. Check out this clip of the new Julie Ruin (featuring Bikini Kill bandmate Kathi Wilcox) performing “Radical or Pro-Parental” at the Knitting Factory in December.
British music producer (yes, we’re noticing a pattern too) Stephen Wilkinson has been recording under the name of Bibio for the past six years or so, but we don’t think he’s gotten the amount of love he deserves yet. Manipuliating acoustic guitars, violin, and other organic elements, 2009’s exquisite Vignetting the Compost has us pumped for Mind Bokeh , coming out next month on Warp. Listen to “Excuses” below, an unwieldy, flamboyant chunk of drums and bass from the new record. Headphones recommended.
Quitzow is all about controversy, combining opposite base elements such as violin and Moog, or the subject matter of cats and cocaine. Her girly, occasionally bratty vocals landed some Quitzow tracks on Gossip Girl, but if you listen more closely, you realize we’ve got one wise lady on your hands who knows a thing or two about shaking her ass. “Cherry Blossom” is from her latest full-length album, Juice Water , out now on Young Love Records.
There’s something in the Baltimore water. Dan Deacon pals Future Islands sound as if Dan Bejar wandered into a Cocteau Twins concert and acquired a slight British accent. Oh, and became the most sweepingly confident guy on the block. Listen to “The Ink Well” from their split with Lonnie Walker, and do your best not to parade triumphantly around the office.
Former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton is someone else to count on, as long as he stops touring and makes another dang record! 2009’s Central Market is nothing short of an classical electronic masterpiece, and it’s currently being performed around the world with full symphony orchestras. Stravinsky would probably be thrilled. We’re hoping the tuxedo-laden world of classical music collides with Braxton’s sonic genius for a new album, but right now, try to catch him on the road, and listen to this track as a refresher.
It’s one thing to master the art of looping sound in the studio, but Merrill Garbus a.k.a. tUnE-yArDs replicates every last detail of her records on stage, adding layer upon layer of moans, vocal percussion, plucks and intertwining melodies. Plus, she tends to rock some pretty cool face paint. 2009’s BiRd-BrAiNs made music journalists crazy in more ways than one, so we should all be thrilled and maddened to hear about 2011’s w h o k i l l. Equally frustrating is the lack of any material leaked from w h o k i l l, due out Aptil 19th on 4AD, so let’s just listen to “Hatari” and think about how awesome tUnE-yArDs is.