Descending onto the Dance floor


On their new seven-track EP, Toronto's Moon King trade their shoegaze tendency with old-school disco and Detroit house.

Moon King/ Hamtramck '16

Despite having been active since 2012, alt-pop duo Moon King is still one of the lesser known indie acts to have emerged out of Canada. Made up of childhood friends Daniel Woodland and Maddy Wilde, the pair has so far put out two EPs (Obsession I and Obsession II) as well as a debut LP, the 2015's krautrock-leaning Secret Life. Over the following few years, the pair planed itself in Detroit's underground music scene and spent a good chunk of their time on the road touring with a bunch of buzz bands including Alvvays, TOPS, Doldrums and Mr Twin Sister, gradually expanding their fan base and accumulating some new ones along the way.

With the arrival of their latest EP Hamtramck '16, named after a creative, ethnically diverse neighbourhood in Michigan, songwriter Woodland and singer/guitarist Wilde seem to be inching away from the fuzzy krautrock inclination they're initially known for. In its place is a slick hybrid of lo-fi synth-pop and funk-house rhythms -- the sort of nocturnal disco sound that underpinned much of Mr Twin Sister's self-titled sophomore record.

Already the first few notes of opener Come Around are a harbinger of this brighter, more dance floor-oriented palette. Key electronic elements are all present: propulsive synths, beat claps and electric guitar accents. It marks quite a departure from the band's sound while setting the tone for the rest of the EP. Next up, In & Out keeps the momentum going with an infectious synth motif and solid percussive elements. Wilde's vocals, while not the most powerful, lend themselves well to the whole proceeding.

The wonky, mid-tempo Just a Minute floats along with the Calypso-inspired drum loop that readily brings to mind Drake's meme-worthy smash Hotline Bling. Jasmine then picks the pace right back up, transporting us to the late '70s dance floor where The Bee Gees reigned supreme. The EP's only instrumental number Hit It is a nearly three-minute showcase of a sputtering motorik groove and synth keys. Listen closely and you can still detect a whiff of Krautrock in its DNA.

Built around minor piano chords, Ordinary Lover concludes the EP with a classic Detroit house vibe. Wilde reappears here with her vocal contribution. "I don't want no ordinary lover/And I don't want no ordinary love," she coos during the chorus, her voice mirrored by a simple chord progression. Taken as a whole, Hamtramck '16 may come as a bit of a shock to those who have been following Moon King's music up until this point. That said, the new musical direction does mark a confident step forward for the twosome. We're curious to see whether they're going to continue to explore this newly carved path (they should) or return to their alt-pop roots on their next outing.


Safeplanet/ Tad Sin Jai (Again)

Despite having recently emerged onto the local music scene, Thai trio Safeplanet have already cultivated their own sonic sensibility and put their stamp on an indie-pop sound. Their latest offering, Tad Sin Jai (Again), is a breezy, jangly jam that benefits from a melodic guitar work. Clocking in at over five minutes, it never once feels tedious or unnecessary. While the song may not share the same maturity of their earlier release Hong Krajok (Mirror Room), this is still a solid attempt nevertheless.

Tori Amos/ Cloud Riders

Iconic singer-songwriter Tori Amos returns with Cloud Riders, the lead single from her forthcoming 15th studio album, Native Invader, a follow-up to 2014's Unrepentant Geraldines. The song sees Amos in a contemplative mood as she sings about resilience during tough times ("I am not giving up on us/And I am not going anywhere soon…Riding out this storm/We'll be riding out this storm"). Musically, there're also a few gorgeous elements to delight in like those gentle guitar riffs and lilting gospel organ.

Stereophonics/ All In One Night

Ever had one of those nights where things just go topsy-turvy? These guys have. "At two o'clock in the morning/Sure, I'm at the party house/I meet the roommate getting some water/She got a baby in her stomach," Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones sets the scene over a circular guitar line on their new single All In One Night. The said roommate then goes into labour, swiftly gets dumped by the child's father and Jones finds himself in the role of a step-father ("Six o'clock in the morning/And now we're 22 months along/She ask me to be the daddy/And get married when it snows"). Geez, what an eventful evening.

Adore Delano/ Negative Nancy

Those who follow the music career of RuPaul's Drag Race's former contestants will know that it all can be something of a mixed bag. On one hand, there are the passable voices of Sharon Needles, Phi Phi O'Hara and Pearl Liaison. On the other, we have genuine talents like Alaska Thunderfuck, Jinkx Monsoon and Adore Delano. The latter has just dropped the new single Negative Nancy, a pop-screamo anthem that immediately recalls the work of grunge queen Courtney Love. "Daddy called me Nancy boy/Never let me play with toys," she growls with the rage of a scorned punk diva that she is.

Jessie Ware/ Midnight

After giving us Tough Love, one of the finest R&B records in recent times back in 2014, the UK soul songstress is back with more sonic goodness in the form of Midnight. Taken from her upcoming third LP, the track is a stately slow-burner that echoes the strained relationship theme she's been trading in since her debut. "Maybe I love you/Maybe I want to/Maybe I need you," she croons alongside a plodding, gospel-inspired piano riff. "Don't let me fall through/Now that I need you/I feel this magic is never gonna fade/I ain't got nothing to say."


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