Friday, July 24, 2020

McQ's Best Of 2019 Vol 7 - All Things Disco!

All right, electronic music fans of every stripe, it's your turn now.

On this sampler, we divide things into three distinct movements. 

Set one focuses on several of the 2019's best contemporary pop hits and dance club singles.

Set two goes mostly instrumental, with selects from some of the years best EDM, IDM, House, and Techno releases.

And in the Encore, we jumble it all up, and add a few beloved older players into the mix.

Here's the Spotify link. Enjoy!

SET 1 (Dance Tent Divas)

1. You're No Good - Chromatics: Straddling electronic and indie aesthetics, we split the two best songs from the always Lynchian (it's no accident the band closed the first episode of Showtime's 2017 Twin Peaks revival) Chromatics Closer To Grey between this mix and Vol 3 - All Things Indie. Here on You're No Good, the Portland-based, Johnny Jewel-led outfit hits a vibe flawlessly reminiscent of John Talabot's 2012 electronic hit Destiny to give us the perfect opener to this year's dance, pop, and electronica themed-mix. 

2. Bad Guy - Billie Eilish: 2019's teen sensation keeps things going for us with the best uptempo number from her smash sophomore effort  WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (Solid Recommend).

3. Motivation - Normani: A creation of reality television as much as the music industry, X-Factor and Dancing With The Stars contestant and former Fifth Harmony member Normani Hamilton nonetheless delivered one of the catchiest mainstream pop singles of 2019 with this irresistible number here.

4. He - Jai Paul: Single release He, marked the musical return of influential Aught's Indian-Brit producer/recording artist Jai Paul after a seven year hiatus. 

5. Julien - Carly Rae Jepsen: Originally setting out to make her entire fourth full-length Dedicated (Solid Recommend) an "understated living room dance party thing," inspired by seventies disco from the likes of the Bee Gees and Donna Summer, Jepsen ultimately decided such a creative restriction was too limiting a constraint for the album in full, but some of the efforts she composed in that original vein still made the final track list, most notably best track Julien featured here. 

6. Got To Keep On - The Chemical Brothers: Was really surprised how much I enjoyed The Chemical Brothers 2019 release No Geography (Solid Recommend). It doesn't offer much in the way or new, and isn't on par with their best efforts of the 90s, but for fans it is a very sturdy effort with a number of excellent songs, starting with it's most popular number, Got To Keep On here. 

7. Incapable - Roisin Murphy: A bad-ass harbinger of more bad-assery to come, Roisin Murphy's Incapable was an early 2019 single build-up to her fantastic 2020 full-length disco banger Roisin Machine.  If you're a rocker who generally can't stand disco because you feel it lacks rock's more muscular attack, then Murphy is the dance house artist for you. 

8. Naeem - Bon Iver: Bon Iver keeps moving in a more experimental direction, and keeps getting worse. i,i (mild recommend) is easily the Wisconsin-based act's least compelling album to date, with basically three or four solid tracks, and nothing else.  But a couple of those standouts are really good, and show that while one hopes Justin Vernon will course correct away from glitchy electronic stylings on future efforts, the potential for greatness or near greatness still exists within him, as on Naeem offered up here. 

9. White Mercedes - Charil XCX: One of the more frustrating albums of 2019, Charli XCX's Charli (Mild Recommend) is a maddening mixed bag of near-brilliant contemporary pop nestled side-by-side with some of the most grating, experimental club bangers in recent memory. That said, the album remains well worth checking out for top tier collaborative highlights like Gone (Christine And The Queens), 1999 (Troye Sivian), Blame It On Our Love (Lizzo), and the album's best solo effort White Mercedes

10. Prophet - King Princess: For my money, the sultriest vocal performance on this entire mix, King Princess's (aka Brooklyn- born Mikaela Mullaney Straus) Prophet was pulled from her well-received full-length debut Cheap Queen. It's a debut that could have come a full decade ago. Straus, the daughter of a recording engineer, was originally offered the chance to sign with a label at the ripe old age of eleven, but wise beyond her years, having spent so much time in the studio with her father and having seen first hand the way labels warped and diluted so many artist's work, opted to hold off until she had fully established her style, base of collaborators, and artistic identity herself.

11. Late Night Feelings - Mark Ronson(Feat. Lykke Li): And now one of three single from superstar producer Mark Ronson's hit-parade 2019 collection of collaborations with name indie and neo-soul sirens  Late Night Feelings. First up, the album's biggest hit, the Lykke-fronted title track.

12. Look At Me Now - Caroline Polachek: Though she's been around as a professional artist for well over a decade, first as co-founder of aught's indie act Chairlift, then over this last decade as a songwriter for the likes of Beyonce and Travis Scott, and a vocal talent for hire who's appeared on works by Blood Orange, SBTRKT, and Charli XCX, 2019's Pang (Solid Recommend) is the Connecticutt-born artist's first effort to appear under her own name. Thematically focused on her recent divorce, we'll be including two tracks from this very sad dance album, starting with the lovely Look At Me Now

13. Cornelia Street - Taylor Swift: Simple little mainstream pop number from Taylor Swift's return towards lighter, upbeat fare, seventh album Lover

14. Light On - Maggie Rogers: My favorite number not named Alaska (which we featured when released as a single in 2018) from electronic-folker Maggie Rogers major label debut Heard It In A Past Life

15. Sofia - Clairo: We'll be featuring both hit singles from 21-year-old Atlanta-based pop-prodigy Clairo's debut Immunity (Solid Recommend), starting with less critically praised but more commercially successful Sofia.

16. Money Machine - 100 gecs: Big boundary pushing electronic pop hit here St. Louis-based experimental pop duo 100 gecs and their glitch dominated studio debut 1000 gecs. This era's Crystal Castles?

17. Don't Leave Me Lonely - Mark Ronson(Feat. YEBBA): Closing out Set One, a second song from Mark Ronson's collaboration heavy Late Night Feelings, this number led by grammy-winning, Memphis-based soul singer and frequent Ed Sheeran / Chance The Rapper guest vocalist Abigail Elizabeth Smith (aka YEBBA). 

SET 2 (Heady House Heroes)

18. The Gate - Caroline Polacheck: A second lovely brief number from Caroline Polacheck's Pang leads us into the headier, more spacious portion of our electronic music programming. 

19. Imminent Spirit Arrival - Octa Octa: Stellar, punchy house number here from Brooklyn-base DJ Maya Bouldry-Morrison fifth full-length release under here Octa Octa persona, Resonant Body

20. Dreamer - Four Tet: Nifty, gentle little glitch fest here in the form of 2019 standalone single Dreamer from McQ electronic mix regular Four Tet.

21. Another Story - Galcher Lustwerk: Really slinky, slow-core cool house here from Brooklyn-based DJ Lustwerk and his 2019 release Information.

22. Hedonic Treadmill - Barker: Really fascinating techno track here from Berlin-based DJ Sam Barker that eschew's all natural percussion, instead modifying ambient music tropes to heighten the dance-floor pulse. From his very well received 2019 album Utility

23. Summon The Fire - The Comet Is Coming: We've already heard one number from emerging British nu-jazz superstars The Comet Is Coming and their futuristic fusion release Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery (Solid Recommend) on Vol 5 - All Things Soulful.  On this mix we touch base with two more tracks that highlight the album's more electronic side, starting with the odd, almost 80s campy Summon The Fire.

24. Pinnacles Of You - Caterina Barbieri: Similar to Stanford grad Holly Herndon, Italian composer and electronic musician Caterina Barbieri is an artist obsessed with machine intelligence and finding ways to incorporate AI-derived designs into her music.  Pinnacles Of You is taken from her 2019 release Ecsatic Computation

25. Anasickmodular - Floating Points: Another minimalist electronic effort, Floating Points mastermind Sam Shepherd recorded the bulk of his sophomore effort Crush (Solid Recommend) with only a Buchla synthesizer and a Korg drum machine. The album, while overall not as thrilling as his spectacular debut Elaenia or his celebrated early 2021 collaboration with jazz great Pharoah Sanders Promises, is still a damn solid electronic offering.

26. Up All Night - SAULT: We've already touched upon SAULT's 2019 electro-funk release 5 (Solid Recommend), but the album walks such a unique fine line between the R&B and electronic genres, it felt an inclusion anonymous UK production collective was warranted here as well. 

27. Lessons - The Cinematic Orchestra: In their first release in 12 years, British Nu-Jazz ensemble reassert themselves among the electronic genre's most gifted dramatic crescendoists on latest effort, the consistently stirring, sweeping To Believe (Solid Recommend).

28. 2 AM - Mark Ronson (feat. Lykke Li): In our last selection from Mark Ronson's collaborative collection Late Night Feelings, Ronson again turns to Swedish indie darling Lykke Li to set the mood, but this time for a quieter turn on the record's pentultimate track 2 AM. 

ENCORE (Main Stage Magic)

29. Melody Of Love - Hot Chip: Kicking off our encore is a sweet, sweet number from superposi-synthpop vets Hot Chip and their very likable seventh studio release A Bath Full Of Ecstasy (Solid Recommend).

30. Daylight Matters - Cate le Bon: One of the most critically lauded albums of 2019, I did not find myself bonding with Welsh experimental pop artist Cate le Bon's mediation on solitude Reward (Mild Recommend) as much as many, but I did love the opening two tracks Miami and the even better Daylight Matters featured here.

31. Timewave Zero - The Comet Is Coming: A seriously great late-night vibe gradually morphs into an ecstatic crescendo on this final exciting inclusion from Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

32. Sucker Punch - Sigrid: The title track to this young Norwegian electro-popper's 2019 full-length debut, Sucker Punch might be tastiest bit of sugary ear candy on this entire mix.

33. Bags - Clairo: Voted one of the 150 best songs of the decade by both Paste Magazine and Pitchfork, Bags was inspired by Clairo's struggle with her emerging bi-sexuality and attraction towards a heterosexual female friend she had recently met in college. The song became the centerpiece of her debut album Immunity

34. MAH - The Chemical Brothers: Here's one more banger from the Chemical Brothers highly entertaining ninth studio release No Geography, this time second single MAH.

35. when the party's over - Billie Eilish: Having already profiled the best of WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? edgier numbers, here we close with the breakthrough album's finest ballad with when the party's over

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