Electronic-Dance

Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell (CD)

Pop music's most fantastic chameleon, Arthur Russell, was able to morph from discotheque debonair, minimalist 20th century avant-garde composer, East Village folkie or floor-stomping, white-man funk god. Despite all the talents he died in relative obscurity, except among the New York heads, due to complications from AIDS. But like the case with so many great artists, it's in death that outsiders discover their treasures like they're forgotten artifacts and they garner the respect they always deserved. Now after so many reissues, books and documentaries, Arthur Russell is remixed, chopped up and redone for the 21st century by an eclectic cast of musicians including Robyn, Sufjan Stevens, Blood Orange, Devendra Banhart, and Scissor Sisters. This is not just another tribute album featuring an odd menagerie of B-sides and by-the-number tunes, but is instead a complete reexamination and reinterpretation of iconic Arthur Russell tracks with layers added to his already dense songs. Hot Chip knead's mutant disco sideshow "Go Bang" into Fela Kuti by way of a Macbook. No release this year has so many tasty and diverse flavors than this.

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Museum Of Love (CD)

Ye, what else hath risen from the fallen ashes of the LCD? Former LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney and Dennis “Jee Day” McNany of The Juan Mclean release their eponymous debut, Museum Of Love. The duo made themselves known last year when they released the darkly groove ridden “Down South” back in 2013 along with the repetitiously soulful “Monotronic.” The album is indeed a continuation of the beats set in motion with their pre-released singles. At the forefront and most apparent are the distinct vocals of now frontman Pat Mahoney. Having named the outfit after a Daniel Johnston song the vocals are surprisingly soulful. Uniquely placed between a sort of David Byrne / Bryan Ferry croon, the vocals are draped over Jee Day’s complex disco beats. The velvety vocals are employed remarkably well, comforting the listener as they groove through the eerie steely “Learned Helplessness in Rats (Disco Drummer).” The experience culminates in the closing track, “All The Winners (Fuck You Buddy),” which actually sounds like a closing credits tune complete with obligatory orchestral strings. The shadow of the inherent nepotism of DFA’s flagship group completely cast aside, let us welcome freshly Museum of Love in all its soul shaking glory. Thanks be.

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Our Love (CD)

Dan Snaith’s latest album moves his varying aliases closer together, utilizing some of the dancier aspects of his work as Daphni without sacrificing his core indie-electro-pop appeal as Caribou. The albums starts on a brilliant note with “Can’t Do Without You,” a sumptuous love song that circulates some of the psychedelic swirl of previous Caribou releases even as it taps into EDM culture’s builds and breaks. “Silver” is a sweet, dazzling digital tapestry of sound that tips its hat to ’80s synth pop while retaining its now cache. Snaith touches on many eras of dance music throughout Our Love, on the freestyle-vibing “All I Ever Need” and the luxuriously banging title track, which ends in a nod to Chicago house classic “Good Life.” Yet Snaith’s work is still his own, as tracks like “Dive” feature wavering keyboards and breathy vocals that make you feel like you’re teetering. Some of the later tracks fail to distinguish themselves, but none sounds remotely bad. Our Love is a warm, inviting listen from start to finish. It’s yet another bit of perfection from Snaith.

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In A Dream (CD)

Post hardcore guitarist turned electronic musician John Maclean teams up with post LCD Soundsystem vocalist Nancy Whang to release In A Dream. The record has an immediate dancability indicative of any DFA release. However, the pedigree between these two lends a familiarity that gives the record a certain timelessness. During the last days of LCD System Nancy Whang was asserting herself as a creative force in that group. With the dissolving of LCD Soundsystem, Nancy has turned it way up as the prominent vocal feature on Maclean’s record. Maclean churns out some killer pop-disco synth bangers, while Whang keeps the hooks coming. The single “A Simple Design” highlights the partnership that Whang and Maclean have, and leaves hope for a new definitive duo for the DFA label.

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Mean Love (CD)

Brooklyn based Ahmed Gallab’s third full-length album, Mean Love, is soul-funk genre bending pop record. With the tracks are loosely based on the meditation of love gone wrong, Sinkane uses all manner of instruments and genres to weave this piece together. The result being his most experimental and pointed release yet. The multi-instrumentalist’s vocals wash over thick bass lines in the '80s soul inspired single “Hold Tight.” “Galley Boys,” is done with an almost country island pedal steel vibe. One highlight is with the track “Omdurman.” The album's brightly hymn-like closer has the communal reminiscence of the work that Gallab did as the musical director of William Onyeabor tribute The Atomic Bomb! Band.

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Innerworld (CD)

Electric Youth broke out in a big way with “A Real Hero,” a song that came to define the sound of the film Drive and its corresponding soundtrack. The duo double down on that impossibly romantic synth sound on Innerworld, their long-awaited debut album. That slow-burning pulse is back in songs like “Innocence,” perfectly capturing the romantic ideal of first love with synthesizers that at first sparkle like eyes being rubbed awake and then dazzle with gentle orchestration. Subtly enough referencing the soundtrackers of ’80s proms like Yaz and Alphaville, Bronwynn Griffin’s breathy voice sometimes floats by as a dream and other times catches onto a lighter-waving sentiment, like “we are the youth, we like to sing” (on “WeAreTheYouth”). Though Electric Youth may lack a bit for originality, Innerworld pretty skillfully avoids sameyness by appealing to current Europop-indebted dance music on tracks like “Runaway,” though they’re at their comfortable best on songs like “Without You,” building from their favored digital throb into a lovable freestyle couple. Griffin and her partner, Austin Garrick, have been a couple since the 8th grade, and thus their ability to make every synth stab feel like a dizzying first crush rings authentic. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard some of the sounds here before, or that they even include the three-year-old “Real Hero”; Innerworld’s swoony romanticism makes you feel like it’s the first time.

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