The Chemical Brothers are back! C-H-E-M-I-C-A-L was released last week, as well as an announcement of upcoming live shows happening next month. There’s a lot of old favourites coming back with a vengeance, with gigs and new tracks flailing all about the place.
Reporter: Larry Gliddon | Sub-Editor: Chelsea Jobe
Here are a handful of those who have been around for ages but making their way back, emerging from the woodwork from the tree of the dance music revolution.
Parisian dance duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rospay became a worldwide internet sensation with D.A.N.C.E back in 2007. Cross is a musical embodiment of beauty, with each track moving smoothly onto the next. They released an album four years later, but it was quite hard to top D.A.N.C.E. There was a lot of heavy guitar, which is fine, but the bar was set quite high beforehand. A number of dramatic tracks have been released over the past month, with Safe and Sound and Randy – just to name a few – have reminded us that Justice are back and more over the top than ever. Their album Woman is out soon and they’re having a pre-release party in Kingston tonight.
Tom Findlay and Andy Cato became Groove Armada in the mid-90s, the mid-dance era. Groove Armada is what you would associate dance music with, the overwhelming emotions of euphoria and innocent fun. The pair have a number of distinctive tunes, like Superstylin and At the River, but their most prominent one has to be Fatboy Slim’s remix of I See you Baby back in 2004. The song only just scraped the PG rating my mum had back then, so I was able to bop about at that age. To this day, it seems Groove Armada have gone a little bit quiet. They did a collaboration with Moda Black a couple of years back, and they do the occasional DJ set here and there, but mainly stick to festivals as far as the UK is concerned.
The indie pop outfit consists of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, Baria Qureshi and Jamie Smith who were formed in London in 2007. Their debut album, XX, gained popularity the minute it was released in 2009. From Intro to Crystallised, the group are somewhere in-between carrying a soulful but otherwise moody aura about them. A short while after their LP was released, Qureshi left the band, and the rest of the group released a statement from NME saying it was because of “personal differences”. In 2012, another album was released, however they’ve gone quiet, apart from Smith as Jamie XX doing well and collaborating with fellow bandmate Madley Croft in Loud Places. The group are making a comeback though, after releasing the tune On Hold earlier today, also revealing details of a third album.
The Prodigy, fronted by Liam Howlett, was formed in the 1990s, contributing to the development of dance music through angry techno. Firestarter, released in their 1996 album Fat of the Land, gained popularity, becoming the group’s first number one single in the UK Charts for three weeks. They were also notorious back then for being consistently aggressive. Firestarter and Smack my Bitch up are among a few who were called out for endorsing violence. That said, their live shows are ridiculous, even throwing flares into the crowd. I think the biggest regret I’ve ever made in my life is not buying a ticket to go to their show in Alexandra Palace when I had the chance to. Idiot. The Day is my Enemy was released last year, and although it was powerful and aggressive, and all things Prodigy, it just felt like something was missing.
Imagine it’s the early 1980s in Bristol and there’s one of the most successful DJ collectives playing in front of you. It’s mental. Massive Attack started out like this, under a different name, the Wild Bunch, and were known for effortlessly tying in a wide variety of music styles. When it dissolved a few years later, Daddy G and Mushroom stayed on and joined forces with the graffiti artist 3D and made Massive Attack. Their music is somewhat a wave of powerful darkness, lined with a sense of mysterious beauty. Massive Attack stands for a hip-hop tripfest vibe, gaining recognition in the mid 90s with Daydreaming, featuring the king of trip-hop Tricky. Teardrop is a song that makes you feel emotions you’ve never ever felt before. The same goes with the album Mezzanine released in 1998. The group rarely do live shows, but their recent stuff is mind-blowing. Come Near Me, is a magical collaboration with Ghostpoet. It makes you forget you’re in 2016 and not in mid-90s Bristol popping pills and weeping with joy and sorrow on your mate’s shoulder.
Otherwise known as the first virtual hip-hop group, the characters in Gorillaz are 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs, and Noodle. Behind this idea we have frontman Damon Albarn from Blur, and all things visual from that of Jamie Hewlett. I reckon if Hatsune Miku came over to the UK and smoked a couple of joints and drank a four pack of Tesco lagers with these guys, weird magic would happen. Clint Eastwood rose to fame in the early 2000s, followed by their debut album Demon Days, filled with cult classics like Feel Good Inc. They’ve been really quiet ever since Plastic Beach was released six years ago. Collaborations with Snoop Dogg and De La Soul make this album a stoners paradise. If you check Hewlett’s Instagram, you’ll see sneak peek at brand new artistic previews of what’s to come.
French house duo Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter gained acclaim for their experimental approach, blending all possible dance music genres into one. Homework was released in 1997 including Da Funk and Around the World. Four years later, Discovery was released hand in hand with Interstella 5555, which is a beautiful mind-blowing long music video to the album. So it’s a shame how their most recent album, Random Access Memories, was their adaptation to mainstream music. It’s super poppy as they collaborated with unlikely characters like Pharrell Williams. But perhaps it shows they are open towards making good music. Random Access Memories was a shame, and their most recent song with the Weeknd is a little better – maybe they’re trying to revolutionise dance music. They are notorious for never doing live shows, with their last tour Alive that happened back in 2007. But there are rumours for Alive 2017, it makes us wonder what will come of this. Will they play their old stuff? Or will they bring out Pharrell Williams? That’s the beauty of Daft Punk, they’re full of surprises.