From the moment you hear the anthemic guitar on the opening track, “A Place Called Space,” you know that the disco age has come back. The long awaited album by one of the mighty pillars of New York’s DFA label, The Juan Maclean, is now the definitive proof that whatever rut dance music may have been in – whether it’s trap or deep house or tropical house – it just can’t compete with the old school.
Marking one of the biggest collaborations for DFA songstress extraordinaire Nancy Whang since the dissolution of LCD Soundsystem, “In A Dream” presents us with the version of old fashioned dance that – in an age of the unstoppable EDM machine – we most definitely don’t deserve, but we absolutely need. Everything from “A Place Called Space” to the stargazing “Love Stops Here” to the synthy house party jam “A Simple Design” is a fervent, affectionate ode written for the music that inspired the DFA label in the first place with tones and melodies and builds that recall the heyday of the discotheque: tastes of artists like The Human League and Herbie Hancock and Depeche Mode find themselves peeking out from the corners of each track like fans in a crowded dance hall.
But what really stands out here is Nancy. A tour de force in terms of her delivery and her songwriting, she acts as the pulse in the array of lush, undeniably appetizing soundscapes that this album represents. “Running Back To You” is a showcase for this as she slips a sweetness into lyrics about looking out the window reflecting on romances that never were which conveys not just a lovelorn vulnerability, but an understanding that something better could be on the horizon even if it’s right in front of you. It’s a faithful merger of classic themes with respect for the 80′s new wave and it hits every single mark.
Even the less approachable tracks for new listeners, like “Charlotte,” have this nuanced approach making them less like B-sides on a record full of straightforward hits and more like a complete meal; like the veggies next to a sirloin steak, the meat is great, but the vegetables are necessary to satiate your needs. And that says a lot in a decade that has so far turned into a race geared towards what new tracks you can pop out (especially with a tired music industry’s switch to relying on digital singles). In this regard, The Juan Maclean proves to be the abnormality, which is an achievement on its own, and one that will more than likely place this album alongside other albums in the higher echelons of music royalty.
Simply put, “In A Dream” exceptionally ventures where few in the dance music industry dare to tread and their journey from track to track impresses with each beat, synth, vocal, pad, and bit of self-aware savviness.
London’s Riva Starr has been having a busy 2014. So it only makes sense that he would remix the equally as busy – and exceptionally talented – indie act London Grammar. Taking the ethereal, cinematic “If You Wait” and using Hannah Reid’s powerful vocals as his backbone, the remix offers up a UK garage sound that blends itself so beautifully into the spiritual, divine coffeehouse electronica that London Grammar has made a niche with. What truly stands out here is Riva Starr’s use of ambience to his advantage to create something more than a run-of-the-mill deep house banger: he takes moody piano, spacious reverb, and even an escalated orchestral part and infuses it with a space time continuum – the bass and the treble in the 4/4 time signature – which builds itself up into a work that we as the ravers, the lovers, the star-kissed dreamers can truly lose our heads in.
Listen to this hypnotic masterpiece below and check out London Grammar when they hit up the 9:30 Club on November 7.
Happy Labor Day! We hope you’ve got the day off (and even if you don’t this is thoroughly enjoyable). Blisspop resident Steven Faith has posted his opening set from a recent show with Echo & The Bunnymen at the Fillmore in SilverSpring. It’s a seamless mix of classic Brit Pop and modern indie rock that really shows you what a DJ is meant to do. Faith maintains a continuous vibe as every track flows from one into the other effortlessly and takes you on a trip through the foundations of modern indie rock. Take a listen below and enjoy your holiday! (Soundcloud is lame as usual, so the set was only able to be uploaded to MixCrate, but just click through and you’ll be exactly where you want).
San Diego native Colour Vision has been making his name in the dance music scene for the past few years by cranking out high energy disco edits and supporting acts like Cut Copy, Sneaky Sound System, Grum, and The Juan Maclean. And on August 21, he dropped his first original track and EP: “Sur Chic.”
Coming off the Mexican label Mix Le Fun, “Sur Chic” takes an almost minimal approach before the brick wall of a bass drop that comes in a little after the first minute. But don’t let that first drop mislead you: Colour Vision’s original mix is a no nonsense piece of house that takes each build and uses it as a platform to make the listener have miniature waves of euphoria throughout. This is grin inducing house.
And the remixes that are also part of this release are wonderful in their own right: Fishing Vest has taken the track and turned it into a savvy, tropical house dance cleanse complete with steel drums; Rambo V’s edit is a super dubby, ultra clubby version that fuses deep house with a reggaeton attitude before turning into a bouncy bass trip; and DWYR turns in an inspired edit that mixes a feel good 90′s dance aesthetic with echoes and chord progressions that clamor for a sweaty, dark dancehall.
This EP is one that doesn’t come around too often. Every track feels just as good as the one before it and the heart and soul – Colour Vision’s original – is the frosting that brings this super sweet release together. The “Sur Chic” EP is available now via Beatport.
As you might remember from our very first ‘Blisspop Bonus Tracks’ round-up, the purpose of these is pretty simple: A gathering of all the music that may have slipped through the cracks from the weeks past. In this second round-up, we’ve got a bunch of cool stuff for you to discover and play, and hopefully download and take with you to soundtrack whatever it is you’re doing. Highlights of this one include the lead single “Give Up” from San Francisco based duo BLAUS’s debut EP, an epic debut single from a BLEITCH called “This Is Our Youth”, as well as one hell of a remix from Axmod that will just take you away. Enjoy everything below!