First Spin: The Week’s Best New Dance Tracks From Calvin Harris, Tokimonsta & VanJess, & More

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This week saw the launch of a new partnership between ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective label and Ninja Tune, an update on what might happen with hundreds of SOPHIE tracks that remain in the vault after the producer’s death earlier this year, chart moves from Saint Jhn and Galantis, David Guetta and Little Mix, some hope for the 2021 season in Ibiza, a potential green light for Tomorrowland 2021, changes in how Twitch and Apple Music are handling dance music, a new book coming on Daft Punk’s Discovery and Richie Hawtin signing with WME. Is there more?

You bet there’s more, with the best new dance tracks of the week below. Let’s dig in.

Calvin Harris Feat. Tom Grennan, “By Your Side” 

Who here remembers 2012 to 2014? You know, when everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Rihanna was making feel-good, dance-pop slammers for the summer? Everything was super shimmery, the beats were steady four-four rhythms and all the lyrics were about “tonight” and “this love.” Calvin Harris was the undisputed king of that era, and while he’s spent the past half-decade flexing his creative muscles, taking on everything from funk to ‘90s house, he must currently be feeling nostalgic.

Indeed, Harris’ latest single “By Your Side” is an instant throwback to simpler times. It sounds like fruity cocktails enjoyed poolside, each sip numbing your brain until you forget that you’ve ever heard the terms “pandemic” or “fake news.” The sunshine single features vocals from Tom Grennan, who dance fans may recognize from his work on Chase & Status’ “All Goes Wrong.” If you’re looking for something to blast at the vaccinated family barbecues this summer, “By Your Side” is a fail-safe move. — KAT BEIN

Tokimonsta & VanJess, “Say Yes”

Tokimonsta seems to really, really like Floetry’s “Say Yes.” The producer’s own remix of the neo-soul duo’s 2003 single has been a frequent fixture in her many pandemic-era livestreams, but she’s found a new way to make it her own by covering it with the help of rising sister-duo VanJess, with whom she previously worked on “Come and Go” from her 2020 album Oasis Nocturno. Compared to the original, this version of “Say Yes” gets an energy injection, with twanging guitar synths, chugging rhythm and winding vocal runs. Meanwhile, VanJess keep Floetry’s soulful essence intact with their full, molasses-coated tones. 

“The original ‘Say Yes’ was a song that encompassed the deeper meanings of openness and love,” writes Tokimonsta in a press release. “Though the pandemic has been challenging, I felt inspired to tap into that introspection and reinterpret this song with the help of the incredible VanJess.” After blessing us in April with Rochelle Jordan’s excellent second album, Tokimonsta and her Young Art label are on an electro-soul roll that we hope keeps on. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Ampersounds Feat. Rufus Wainwright, “Technopera” 

Rufus Wainwright has one of the most iconic voices of the last 20-plus years, and finally, blissfully, he lends it to an electronic production. The project is called Ampersounds, a collaboration between French legend Fred Falke and UK producer Zen Freeman, and together the three have made “Technopera,” a gently pulsing, slowly building, honest-to-god high-level club banger that lands right as clubs are reopening. The video is directed by longtime Daft Punk collaborator Cédric Hervet, and the song comes ahead of an EP, West End, set to drop on July 16. — KATIE BAIN

Lamorn, “Physical Layer”

What does it take to stop deadmau5 in his tracks? Oh, just inimitable talent. “I came across Lamorn on a mau5trap Mondays stream,” deadmau5 is quoted in a press release. “His song ‘Physical Layer’ was so strong, I had to ask him to send his session files to make sure it was him.” Having seen that the 18-year-old created each and every deliciously funky, feel-good synth sound for himself, deadmau5 crowned Lamorn as his official protege.

Today, “Physical Layer” is released as Lamorn’s mau5trap debut.“This was one of those songs that happened all at once one morning,” Lamorn is quoted. “I remember as soon as I had the main beat, I looped it for the rest of the morning as I did other things around the house. It’s a great memory this track holds for me.” Since that fated mau5trap Monday, Lamorn won a remix contest for Attlas’ “Half Light” feat. Alisa Xayalith, released official remixes for deadmau5, Judah & The Lion, and Shaed & Two Feet. Tonight, he’ll hit the stage for his first-ever performance, opening for deadmau5 at the Rawhide Western Town & Event Centre in his native Arizona. Not a bad way to start a career.  — K. Bein

Loraine James, “Insecure Behavior and F—ery”

Reflection, the debut album from UK producer Loraine James, is often surprising, frequently challenging, deeply introspective out and generally captivating. Giving serious 2012-era Beat Scene vibes, the album is smartly experimental, favoring boundary-expanding productions over easy to access melodies or traditional cut and paste soundscapes. The album’s 11 songs are best listened to one after the other, with “Insecure Behavior and F—ery” in particular embodying a skittering quality that actually feels like type of annoyances referred to in the title, with UK rapper Nova delivering rapidfire lyrics over the track’s push/pull beats. — KATIE BAIN

Suzi Analogue, “Super Smooth”

“You keep on watching me,” Suzi Analogue repeatedly observes on her new song, “Super Smooth,” before finally asking, “What are you waiting for?” The song, inspired by “Miami bass, ‘90s R&B and club culture” according to the Miami-based artist, creates a sultry mood, one that Analogue knows how to craft by way of a burn so slow it almost aches. The production, a hazy melange of bubbling textures, echoing percussion and nose-diving synths, stretches and bends with her velvet vocals, as she makes a night at the club — one we might picture from experience as being noisy, sticky, crowded and decidedly un-sexy — instead seem sensual and intimate.

It’s a story in three acts, from encouraging a welcome gaze to finding spiritual connection with and among the speakers to smoothly slipping away into the night. “I’m not here to chill,” Analogue asserts, “so let me know what’s good.” — K.R.

soul, classic soul, motown,


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