The month of November was a great one for the indie dance genre, featuring a number of releases by beloved veterans of the style, including music from Strange Talk, Cut Copy, and She Wants Revenge. We also have music from newcomers Jaguar Dreams, topping the list and really making an impact on the scene with their new self-titled EP. Let's crank up the speakers, dive in, and get moving to some of the best indie dance happening today.
1. Jaguar Dreams - A Real Woman
I’m nostalgic for the mid 00’s indie dance aesthetic pretty much constantly, so when a band like Jaguar Dreams comes along I find myself instantly in love. “A Real Woman” has just the right amount of swagger and disco groove to make you nod your head and smile, and that rhythm guitar throws in just a sprinkle of INXS spice. The guitar solo itself completely shreds, bridging together the song’s repetitiveness. The band’s self-titled EP is available for purchase now.
2. Aaron Taos - Control
Such an upbeat gem from Aaron Taos, singing about the challenges of staying in control in the life of a social butterfly who would rather stay at home in bed binge-watching Game of Thrones. The song opens with parallel guitar and bass and a simple uptempo drum loop that really emphasizes the speed and momentum inherent in such a lifestyle. The droning synth throughout the track maintains the calm under the chaos that keeps demanding the pace.
3. Strange Talk - Cosmic Synchronicity
It is wonderful to have Strange Talk back in my speakers. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since “Eskimo Boy” was released way back in 2011, and “Cosmic Synchronicity” doesn’t stray from what makes this band such a joy to listen to. The track prominently features Stephen Docker’s voice in the foreground as is expected at this point, with some groovy bass guitar laying a foundation, compressed drum fills, and satisfying synth stabs, twinkles, and chord progression.
4. Cut Copy - Ocean Blue
The serene, calm nature of the overlaying vocal work Cut Copy has accomplished in “Ocean Blue” succeed in conveying the mood of a vast, ocean expanse. The underlying synth work and bass guitar are performed in the bands' recognizable style, and the flute and organ accents peppered throughout the track add satisfying detail to an already great piece of music. The song lightens as it progresses, ending wide open in a nearly psychedelic expanse of sound layering.
5. World Champion - Gun
I’m a junkie for falsetto vocal performances and cowbell, so by nature, I smiled, nodded, and enthusiastically embraced this song as soon as it really got grooving. And boy does this track groove. It’s a song about coming together and finding a foot on a common path. The backing synth accents are perfect and add to the track without overpowering. The band is the foreground here. Between the bass work, funky rhythm guitar, and that loose snare drum, I’m totally in love.
6. Sticky Fingers - Loose Ends
I’m always down for a song with attitude and swagger, and that’s exactly what Sticky Fingers bring us on their new track, “Loose Ends.” This is a dance-rock track with some classic guitar work, punk rock flourishes, and themes of anti-conformity with regard to the government. There’s isn’t any new ground being paved with this track, but there are unique textures thrown into the soundscape such as string plucking, acoustic bedding in the bridge, and distortion.
7. Joan - All The Way
We are greeted with the sound of a whip. The minimalistic, compressed nature of the instrumentation, simple synth chords, standalone guitar, and vocal processing are the stand out elements of this light sounding track by Joan. The themes presented in “All the Way” are a typical crush, infatuation story, and exploration of associated feelings. While taking his baby “all the way” has been left open to some interpretation, we do know he’ll do anything to get there.
8. Rendez-vous - Sentimental Animal
The longstanding influence of Joy Division on dance rock is robust and still has yet to grow tiresome with this music enthusiast, particularly when it is performed and produced as well as by Rendez-vous, from France. “Sentimental Animal” has it all. A brisk tempo, spectacular vocal processing, that gritty, driving bassline, and clean, well-polished lead guitar riffs. This is one of those tracks you can play on repeat, but also make sure you check out vids of their live show.
9. Deidre & the Dark - Bad Day
Everybody’s going to have a bad day every now and then, but I don’t know how that could be possible with “Bad Day,” an upbeat track about taking the high road to help yourself feel better. This is one of those songs packed full of horn stabs, flute solos, and jazz organ that never lets up and keeps you going out there on the dancefloor. I really love the use of taxi calling, baby crying, and telephone operator samples which only add to the theme of taking yourself places.
10. Gold Fields - Glow
What does it take to generate the energy required to glow? Gold Fields explore the process of removing fear and setting your spirit aflame, opening your world to a warm future. The track opens with what sounds like an electric generator firing up, an energy arc that lights up the darkness. I love the chord progressions, the way the track builds and falls, and is divided into movements. With a running time at just over 8 minutes, every moment is worth experiencing.
11. Heart Bones - This Time It’s Different
Heart Bones, a duet with Sean Tillman and Sabrina Ellis is a project to keep your eyes and ears on. It’s playful, explores our emotional attachments in love, and even plays with role reversal, which just adds to the theme, “This Time It’s Different.” Relationships can be like this, where it seems like you keep going in circles, over and over working on the same issues. Perhaps if we try to sing from the other person’s perspective it truly can help us to make this time different.
12. Slum Sociable - Afterthought
There is some good advice to heed in this new track by Slum Sociable. “Here’s my afterthought: I should have taken my shot. It happens more often than not, I take some time to do nothing new.” You can’t sit idle, and if you do, opportunities will pass you by. The music really helps this theme, with uplifting synth work and a grounded bass groove that keeps us traveling steadily across time. Slum Sociable has a sizable back catalog and I am going to be exploring it further.
13. Cherry Glazerr - Daddi
It happens often enough where I see dads joke about how they’re going to threaten their daughters' boyfriends because they’re under the assumption that all boys are up to no good with their daughters. This is the type of overprotective decision making by fathers that I see as the basis for Cherry Glazerr’s absolutely stunning new track, “Daddi,” which so very bluntly addresses the importance of letting your children make their own choices as they get older.
14. Armors - I Don’t Wanna Know
For a song about avoiding the inevitable, it sure makes it sound upbeat and fun. With great electronic accents and some vocal sha’la’la’s, it’s the percussion in the track is what really makes the song. Armors bring a fast-paced look into looking past, even running past relationship complications, love on the brink of collapse, one-sided viewpoints, and not wanting to know or acknowledge the fact that your partner is no longer interested in being with you.
15. She Wants Revenge - Big Love
I haven’t seen a lot of press on the latest single from post-punk dreamboats She Wants Revenge, but Justin and Adam are back. Twelve years after their debut, “Big Love” waxes nostalgic, diving into the topic of personal reflection, recognizing your mistakes, but making the effort to get past it and dive headfirst into an open future. The song continues the sound of the band’s minimalistic dance rock aesthetic, with forward facing percussion and vocal atmosphere.