disco

Henry Invisible: “Dance Music Saves” (feat. Bernard Purdie)

For die-hard Steely Dan fans such as myself, the name Bernard Purdie is instantly recognizable; he invented the Purdie shuffle! So for someone that so casually blew the perfectionist minds of Becker and Fagen with his rhythmic genius back in the late ’70s, Bernie’s bar for collaborating is obvious purdy high. Which brings us to Henry Roland. Historically billing himself as Henry + The Invisibles, Roland semi-recently dropped the “backing band” portion of his handle in favor of something that better represents his one-man multi-instrumentalist endeavor, Henry Invisible. On top of his repertoire as a master singer, bassist, guitarist, and Native Instruments extraordinaire, one of Henry Invisible’s biggest assets is his ability to make seamless loops on the fly, a testament to his talents in keeping time and inherent understanding of groove building. Henry’s virtual weekly “Lovestream” kept us affable company at the start of the pandemic, and fortunately for us, those dozens of original jams have been taking shape as fine-polished studio singles. These days, with the mainstream resurgence of house music, we take the “four-to-the-floor” bass drum on the downbeat/hi-hat on the upbeat disco drum beat for granted. But when someone who essentially invented that style enters the studio with a young blood like Roland, all the life and nuance comes bounding back. With Purdie’s presence, “Dance Music Saves” is just that: pure disco-funk music in its fittest form, complete with the classic accouterments like gliding falsetto strings, simplistic lyrics that become hypnotic chants, stank face-inducing slap bass, sexy electric piano chords, and of course, those driving drums. Catch all that and more in person at Henry Invisible’s Friday residency at Meridian, kicking off this weekend.

The Vapor Caves: “Sacrifice”

Happy Women’s History Month! If you weren’t already aware, over the past year Spoon drummer/Public Hi-Fi producer Jim Eno has been helping to write a new chapter in Women’s History through Project Traction. By opening the doors to Public Hi-Fi and offering a seat behind the board, Eno’s given female and non-binary musicians the skills and know-how to advance their careers and improve representation for their marginalized demographic in the production world. Since finding its footing, this admirable experiment has also provided some unexpected pairings with remarkable results. And from the variety of sounds you can tell Jim’s mainly there to facilitate things rather than steer collaborations in any particular direction, which is awesome in terms of women’s autonomy in this male-dominated realm. But like mud-stuck tires, you simply can’t go full speed ahead to gain any real ground, which is why Project Traction’s singles have trickled out one at a time up until now. At the end of next month, PT receives its first formal compilation, appropriately titled Project Traction Volume 1. It hits wax on April 25th, and limited vinyl copies will be available at Waterloo Records. Rounding out the first edition is a real retro-inspired dirty-disco/tech-house banger that takes cues from Teddy Pendergrass’ “You Can’t Hide From Yourself”, and was co-produced by The Suffers’ brilliant frontwoman Kam Franklin. Performed by the sensuously eccentric Austin funk-R&B duo The Vapor Caves, “Sacrifice” shoots you straight to the other side of the millennium at the crank of an LFO knob. The style is classic, but the mixing is modern, making “Sacrifice” a must-spin for your favorite funk-house playlist. Huge bonus points for live brass on behalf of The Suffers, minor 2nd chord modulations, clever clavinet, and some seriously commanding vocal phrases.

Texas’ top musical moments of the year

From the highlights to the blue notes, what happened in the world of Texas music in 2022. A Texas country music legend says goodbye to the road that goes on forever; our conversation with Robert Earl Keene. Also a renaissance for one of the best know Texas artists of all time: the impact of Beyonce’s 7th album, an homage to house and disco music. And Adrian Quesada turns up the volume on a rediscovered musical genre with his Boleros Psicodélicos. A lonestar-studded review of the year, today on the Texas Standard:

Lena Luca: “Rosebuds”

With the exception of so-called “industry plants”, it’s pretty rare for a superstar to hit their biggest stride during their first project. Think about Kenny Rogers with The First Edition, Danny Elfman with Oingo Boingo, or even Beyoncé with Destiny’s Child. Lena Luca had a classical background in oboe performance and music education before relocating to Austin in 2015 and becoming a centerpiece vocalist for art-funk outfit Bourgeois Mystics. That only lasted about a year before Luca jumped ship and launched a new project, a darkpop band in the vain of ’90s industrial post-grunge rock called Elevaded. Well, turns out even that wasn’t enough to scratch Luca’s creative itch.

Right around the start of the pandemic, they re-emerged under their current moniker, introducing Austin to an unapologetically-queer producer-singer-synthesist solo sensation. Disco, funk, R&B, indie, dance, and pop have all been up for grabs in Lena Luca’s upbeat, melody-anchored formulas since 2020, with a 4-track EP on the way. So if you’re checking out Remi Wolf this Sunday at Stubb’s, be sure to stick around ’til after 10 for an official after show performance by Lena Luca. If not, enjoy Lena Luca’s official selection from this year’s Austin Music Video Festival that accompanies one of L.L.’s most rousing bass grooves to date, an expertly-executed disco-funk phenom that gives Dua Lipa a run for her money, “Rosebuds”.

Luna Luna: “Feel it Now”

As we all know, musical trends come and go in cycles, and with the 50th anniversary of disco’s mid-late-’70s heyday approaching, guess what’s back in fashion? That’s not to say that anyone participating in the revival is doing it for a cash grab; just look at Dallas Latinx four-piece Luna Luna, whose retro-friendly style takes the best bits of indie, psych, and bedroom pop, puts a vintage finish on them, and sends the end product flying onto the dance floor.

Luna Luna just released their debut LP Flower Moon last Friday, blossoming with disco-adjacent grooves that give Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush and Poolside’s Pacific Standard Time a run for their money. Luna Luna’s set to roll into town at the Parish on December 12th as part of their upcoming tour but don’t let Flower Moon wane between now and then; instead keep the weekend party vibes going with the group’s brand new video for one of the records very finest, “Feel it Now“!

Sunshine Boysclub: “Don’t See Why”

In recent memory, L.A. singer-producer Sam Martin’s occupied a singular role at the helm of indie pop outfit Youngblood Hawke. But just within the last couple months, Martin’s embarked on a refreshing solo venture, Sunshine Boysclub. Martin lives up to the expectations of the handle with a summer-ready youthful energy, lathering up classic disco-funk formulas with modern flairs of psych-pop, first heard on “Patience” last month.

In anticipation of Sunshine Boysclub’s debut album this fall, Martin just unleashed his sophomore single (and music video) “Don’t See Why”, a sweat-inducing booty-shaker ideal for a vacation, workout, or commute playlist!