Ellie Goulding is the only female pop star that I have dreams of becoming. I think she’s a really cool lady with a killer ability to make amazing pop songs.
Let’s be real here: creating a pop song that doesn’t make your listener want to tear her or his hair out by the second week of airplay is a daunting feat. Do you remember “Happy” by Pharrell or “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train? Even the mere mention of the songs sent shivers down my spine.
But again, like last week’s post on Ed Sheeran, while Ellie Goulding is immensely talented, she isn’t the only artist out there creating feel-good dance music. You shouldn’t limit yourself to what you hear on the radio—that’s boring. Why listen to the same hit station when you can scour the Internet for the most obscure, newest dance act and be cooler than the general populace?
If that’s more daunting than creating a timeless pop song, fear not. I’ve collected five indie artists to grace your ears and to broaden your once-narrow musical horizons.
1. Big Data
Big Data is an American electronic music group by the Brooklyn-based producer and Harvard graduate Alan Wilkis. It is a group that deals heavily with the theme of humans vs. technology (so, you know, light-hearted stuff).
This group first broke into the scene with its EP, 1.0, which was released in 2013, garnering much attention with its hit “Dangerous,” a song that features Daniel Armbruster of Joywave on vocals.
Put it this way: if you’re desperately craving sexy bass lines and anthemic lyrics to sing along to, look no further. Big Data effortlessly blends aggressive synthesizers with said sexy bass lines to create a song that will, quite literally, knock you on your a*s. Nothing about Big Data is light—and that’s awesome.
Essential Tracks: “The Business of Emotion” ft. White Sea and “Clean” ft. Jamie Lidell (yes, that Jamie Lidell.)
Klaxons is an English group based in London that has its roots in the rock genre, but is very much a dance group. The three-piece group formed in New Cross, London, after being introduced by vocalist Jamie Reynold’s girlfriend in 2005. The band released their debut album, Myths of the Near Future in 2007, winning the prestigious Mercury Prize the same year.
Klaxons is an indie group without the pretention but with all of the attitude. They aren’t afraid to slam genres together and record what happens. At the end of the day, their sound is distinctly British, catchy and easy to dance to. Could you ask for anything more?
Essential Tracks: “Golden Skans” and “Forgotten Works.”
3. Cut Copy
Cut Copy began as the solo project of DJ Dan Whitford in 2001 in Melbourne, Australia. It wasn’t until 2004 that Tim Hoey (bass and guitar) and Mitchell Scott (drums) joined Whitford to record Cut Copy’s debut album, Bright Like Neon Love.
Screaming strong 80s influence and top-100 pop sensibilities, Cut Copy is a group that appeals not only to the electronica kids, but also to people who are like their music to be song-based. The band has the presence of a rock band, but roars out synthesizers and groovy basslines. Go to a concert of theirs and you’ll see these two very distinct groups mesh together and you’ll dance like never before.
Cut Copy has been one of my favorite groups since I was 13. Seven years later, no matter what they did, what sound change they made, they have withstood the test of time, returning fresher than they did before.
Essential Tracks: “Lights & Music” and “Take Me Over.”
4. Gemini Club
Gemini Club is a band that, like Cut Copy, have rock attitude but electronic sensibilities. Not one genre is better than the other. Let’s make that clear.
Gemini Club is a four-piece group based in Chicago, Illinois. Fairly new to the scene, this band was included into Ubisoft’s 2014 game, Watchdogs, with their song “Sparklers.” (Side note: “Sparklers” is a really good running song.)
With steady, in-your-face drums and a soulful vocalist, there’s nothing not to like about Gemini Club. My favorite track by them, “Nothing But History” captures how effortlessly this group can blend styles of rock music and electronic music. While you’re dancing frantically, you’ll be singing along with every words Tom Gavin croons out.
Essential Tracks: “Nothing But History” and “Sparklers.”
5. Bag Raiders
Yet another electronic group from Australia! Bag Raiders were founded in 2006 in Sydney, Australia by Chris Stracey and Jack Glass. Classified as an alternative dance band, Bag Raiders bring a unique sound to the dance scene, showing prowess not only through their anthemic synths, but through their guitars as well.
You want to dance? Bag Raiders has you covered. Want to chill out? Again. Want to jump around your bedroom with your best friends singing along? Fret not, Bag Raiders are here. They are not solely a feel-good summer group—they’re perfect for year-round listening.
Essential Tracks: “Sunlight” and “Waterfalls.”
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[Lead image via]