Every Friday I spend all day looking through new releases to find uptempo, dance-worthy songs for my show on KEXP.
There are lots of emo (slow, sad) songs in alternative radio, and though many are good, I’m looking for propulsive tracks. My favorite have soulful vocalists or lyrics.
I play every show as if it might be my last. Never saving the best music for later.
Although it’s an art to put the different music styles together, it’s really the artists that are coming through with circulatory, smart or melodic tracks that are magnetic and strong.
Whether you’re jumping around your living room like a fool (I do this every Saturday when I re-listen to the show), partying with friends or sailing under the moonlight, this music brings us all together.
Here are some of my favorites of 2014.
I’ve also listed classic or alternative songs that go well with these new tracks in sets. Can’t give you all my secrets, but try these new songs with an open ear. I believe you’ll find them satisfying.
1. Jack White – “Lazaretto”
Say what you will about Jack White’s personality, he is undeniably one of the great artists of our time. This rock song is the climactic point (and the title track) to his new full-length Lazaretto.
Jack doesn’t fill his music with solos or layers, it’s retained a raw, spacious quality that invites you in.
Play with hard-hitting rock: The Black Keys – “10am Automatic” or Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero.”
2. Karol Conka – “Vo La”
We don’t see many masterful female rappers. I’m not sure why, since girl singers and writers seem to be everywhere.
Brazilian artist Karol Conka brings in the heavy guns with a warm, rhythmic voice and a mix of world-savvy styles that lean hard into hip-hop.
Play with international dance beats: Manu Chau – “Me Gustas Tu” or Alt-J – “Fitzpleasure.”
3. Bloc Party – “Ratchet”
Suggested by a Twitter friend from London, this song by Bloc Party is their most catchy to date. The interesting thing about this band is that they ride the line between club beats and new wave like no one else.
Play with club beats: Chemical Brothers’ “Song to the Siren” or Underworld’s “Dirty Epic.”
4. Trust – “Icabod”
If I had a quarter for every neo-80s band that comes into the station, I’d be a rich DJ.
Most of seem to be copying the great new wave groups. But once in a while a group comes through with melodies that impress and lyrics that are truly personal.
Trust’s Joyland record is easily my favorite of 2014 so far. This song “Icabod” haunts my dreams in a good way. No, they’re not quite as good as Joy Division, and don’t do Ian Curtis’s trapped butterfly dance, but Trust has their own style going on.
Play with brilliant new wave classics: Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”
5.Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings – “Stranger To My Happiness”
Daptone Records in Brooklyn is bringing out some of the best soul artists of the decade: Lee Fields, Charles Bradley and my girl Sharon Jones.
Their concert at Seattle’s Showbox Theater was the best of the year so far.
The new record Give The People What They Want has many great dance tracks.
My favorite of the bunch is “Stranger To My Happiness.” Oh, those horns!
Play with classic or newer soul: Al Green’s “Here I Am” or Jamie Lidell’s “Multiply.”
Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org.
Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. As a party DJ she’s performed at Seattle Space Needle’s New Year’s Eve, Bumbershoot and private events. This year she’ll spin dance sets at Doe Bay Fest and The Black Cat Halloween Bash. Michele runs Soulful Alternative Marketing and has written scripts, lesson plans and features for The Smithsonian, Experience Music Project, the University of Washington and NPR.