With its roots in escapism, it’s no surprise that disco has been thriving this year. It’s a rough world out there, and getting lost in molten gold guitar tones and hypnotic rhythms is a proven antidote. Furthermore, mainstream EDM’s dominance of dance music is loosening, and the influence of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories has slowly but surely trickled down. From longtime genre enthusiasts to newcomers to established bands taking a turn for the funky, here are nine artists making nu-disco a movement.
Singer, songwriter, producer, and label owner Yuksek does a little bit of everything, even applying his classical training to composing a film score last year. He’s built a name for himself as the disco don of the thriving scene in Reims, France. Most recently, he was tapped to remix Two Door Cinema Club’s “Bad Decisions,” released the third compilation album from his label Partyfine, and has been gearing up for the release of his third solo album, Nous Horizon, which is due out in January. Lead single “Sweet Addiction” is even catchier than a song with that title requires, featuring the effortlessly confident stylings of rising R&B duo Her. With any luck, Yuksek will get the credit he’s due sooner than later.
2. Two Door Cinema Club
On its third LP Gameshow, Two Door Cinema Club has grown far beyond the math-rock skittering of its debut, instead serving up a cocktail of Bee Gees-inspired falsetto backed by bold hooks and a glam-funk swagger that’ll be immediately familiar to fans of Chromeo. With “Bad Decisions,” the trio deploys throwback decadence to underscore the current complexities of “generation information.” Opening with the line “Save me, I’ve been drinking wine,” the track tackles issues both timeless and modern, and it won’t leave your head for days. Boosted by the group’s new influences, Gameshow is a record to put on repeat. “Fever” delivers a dance floor-ready stomp, while “Je Viens De La” cranks up the bombast to close out the album, frontman Alex Trimble pushing his voice to new heights.
We’ve been waiting to hear more from Roosevelt since he made us swoon with the Elliot EP in 2013, and this year he finally delivered his self-titled debut album on esteemed dance label Greco-Roman, run by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. Rooted in late nights where hearts and minds race, the German artist’s songs have a wistful pull that feels transcendentally intimate. Thanks to his formidable DJ experience, his rapturously received full band shows build and flow seamlessly, the way a perfect night out should.
The latest discovery from Parisian boutique label Kitsuné, Parcels might just be one of the best new bands right now. The Berlin-based quintet made its proper introduction to the world earlier this year with “Herefore,” a gooey, entrancing track that’s more irresistible than it first teases. Following singles “Gamesofluck” and “Myenemy” continue to set the bar high. Pairing impeccable arrangements with cashmere-cozy tones, these songs would be perfectly at home on the dancefloor, but wouldn’t mind if you just wanted to spend the night in. Parcels’ Hideout EP is scheduled for a January release, which already seems like perfect timing.
London duo EKKAH tap directly into candy-colored, campy iconography on their latest single “Can’t Give It Up.” The previous Dâm-Funk collaborators are deliriously fun, making maximalist party jams that are impossible to ignore. This is music to lose yourself to, which feels more vital than ever. True to tradition, they aren’t afraid to put glitter on everything, either.
6. Alex Frankel
As the frontman of Holy Ghost!, Alex Frankel has been a career-long disco devotee. Alongside releasing the potent, expansive Crime Cutz EP with his main gig, he’s struck out on his own this year, featuring on Classixx’s “I Feel Numb” and releasing his debut solo material. (He’s also opened up a deli in Brooklyn with his brother, slinging some seriously good bagels.) On the Negative Space EP, partly recorded at Chromeo and Oliver’s studio, Frankel continues to build on his dance bona fides with propulsive rhythms and an in-the-moment mindset.
Though they sing exclusively in French, POOM’s dreamy vibes are universal. The Parisian duo flips disco rhythms into laid-back pastoral pop on its debut album 2016, definitive for its impenetrable ability to chill. Breakout track “Les Voiles” sounds like “Get Lucky” on a tropical vacation, while lead single “Qui Es-Tu” highlights their knack for a pastel-hued groove.
8. Jean Tonique
Jean Tonique has made his mark as a top shelf remixer and producer with a taste for all things old school. His updated take on classic funk and soul is immediately familiar, but unmistakably refreshing. The Parisian artist’s sound is resolutely joyful, highlighted on midnight anthem “Lit Up,” which features the in-demand trio DiRTY RADiO celebrating “dancing to survive.” Think Chromeo with their nervous edge filed down, and you’ve got Jean Tonique’s unrepentant effervescence.
Known for meandering, atmospheric psychedelia, Warpaint channeled Donna Summer for its comeback single “New Song” earlier this year. It’s unabashedly fun and a big change for the band, whose jam-oriented style naturally lends itself to getting into the groove. Warpaint’s standout rhythm section also gets to flex some serious muscle on “So Good” and “By Your Side,” other standout tracks from this year’s Heads Up.