Hercules & Love Affair. Formed in 2004, Hercules & Love Affair is a collaborative disco-house project from DJ Andy Butler that features a rotating cast of musicians and vocalists. Yup, there's disco in Butler's DNA, but the sound is a unique and ambitious revival. He also co-wrote my favorite dancefloor hit of 2008, "Blind." Website is here.
|DJ Andy Butler, the sexy ginger beast behind Hercules & Love Affair|
First job: DJing at a leather bar in Denver
Song & Video -- "I Try to Talk to You" featuring John Grant. Butler got a surprise when he collaborated with gay singer/songwriter John Grant on the song lyrics. Butler recalls: "He tackled the story of becoming HIV-positive, and while I mentioned to him that he did not need to go there if he was not comfortable, in that beautifully punky, spirited and courageous way he has about him, he told me that was what the song was going to be about. What came of it is an elegant song featuring John singing and playing his heart out." Serious and haunting, yes, but also a shimmering dance track. The evocative video depicts two men engaged in a lover's quarrel -- all done through an enthralling interpretive dance.
|John Grant and Andy Butler|
To read an excellent article about these guys, go here.
Jungle. The two producers behind this London band, J (Josh Lloyd Watson) and T (Tom McFarland), have done a good job of remaining deliberately mysterious about themselves and the musicians making the music. Essentially, they have no public image because they decline to be photographed for interviews. And thus far, the band hasn't even appeared in their own videos -- it's just dancers. But the buzz about their live appearances has been good and the modern revivalist funk sound is atmospheric and pretty groovy. Check out their website here.
|These are the musicians that show up for Jungle's live shows, mostly. Sometimes there are more.|
I can't find all their names. And believe me, I tried to get the name of the hot guy in the Cubs jacket.
Song & Video: "Busy Earnin'" -- It's a perfect blending of electro funk and a bright, soulful falsetto with a relatable message. Skipping narrative, the video features a dozen diverse dancers in a big white room. It's all intricate, kick-ass choreography with plenty of attitude. How do you make a perfect dance video? Skip the obnoxious quick cuts and place the emphasis on the dancing.
|The Gaslight Anthem|
Left to right: Alex Levine, Brian Fallon, Benny Horowitz & Alex Rosamilia
Song & Video: "Get Hurt" -- According to Fallon (via Rolling Stone), "The song itself is similar to the feeling of a wreck you see coming, but long past the point you can avoid it." And that "completely different vibe" he was talking about is not hyperbole. This is more mellow than what the band is known for, but Fallon's voice is as a raw and passionate as ever. The video places the band in a simple barroom setting surrounded by melancholy patrons who suddenly become interpretive dancers when the chorus kicks in. Sublime song + silly concept = something plenty watchable.