Over the years, disco has had just about every name under the sun thrown at it. Trite, homosexual, commercial, hedonistic. Lacking the edge of its cool older brother ‘funk’, or the grit of its closest cousin ‘soul’, disco became a cardboard cut-out designed to serve the commercial machine.
But one name we hadn’t heard in a while is ‘cool’. Yep, disco is in vogue again. Having shed its cultural context and consumerist clichés after one fateful night in 1979, disco went back to where it all started, the underground. The great irony of the Disco Demolition Night is that it restarted a long cycle in making disco cool again.
Born in 1995, I was always 30 years too late for the heyday of dancefloor jives. But now the immortal genre has just cast-off the disco ball and platform shoes and come back strong; focusing on the pillars that initially made it a formidable and funky-ass structure: tight arrangements, deep groove, and unfaltering falsetto harmonies.
Byron Bay turned Berlin quintet, Parcels, released one of the best albums of last year and blew up to interstellar stardom. The ultra-tight guitar parts, cashmere tones, and irresistible melodies made it an instant classic and one that will no doubt be remembered fondly in the years to come.
So without further ado here are 5 amazing bands like Parcels, defining what it means to be modern-disco.
Happy’s guide to modern disco: if you like Parcels these five acts are guaranteed to get your soul grooving, and ass shaking*.
Translated from French, L’Impératrice means ‘The Empress’, and that’s exactly how vocalist Flore Benguigui comes across through the stately power of her breathy falsetto. Founded by keyboardist Charles de Boisseguin, their 2015 EP Odyssée knocked it out of the park and is damned near a masterpiece. The synth work, composition, and vocals are so tidy you are instantly transported to the moon via a 1950s French carriage-train.
L’Impératrice don’t create your run of the mill disco either, it’s firmly focused on the future with unique arrangements and soundscapes, and their debut album Matahari solidified their place as one of the most promising new French acts.
Currently working on their debut album, disco-pop duo EKKA (Rebekah Pennington and Rebecca Wilson) channel an infectious, and bass-heavy take on disco inspired by late nights and colourful synths. Unlike the swathe of cheesy disco-pop that litters today’s musical landscape, EKKAH have found their voice, making a name for themselves amongst the London dance scene.
With their debut EP, EKKAH crafted a unique image and sound inspired by the ’70s but dressed in well-crafted glittery synths, and slick, sequinned soundscapes. They released five incredible singles last year and while there is no explicit release date yet, we believe their debut LP is going to be a stone-cold killer.
German producer Marius Lauber, a.k.a Roosevelt first emerged with his Elliot EP in 2013. Now, two full-length albums later, Roosevelt has come to embody a slightly-left-field landscape of disco-tinged, electro bangers.
His sound has blended club bass, sparkling synths, and sombre vocals. It’s immaculate pop that evokes the sense of sunset upon some Tiki-torch dancefloor lost on the overgrown Mediterranean coast.
Men I Trust
While not distinctly disco, Men I Trust deserves a mention for being one of the most exciting bands to emerge from Canada in recent years. Defined by a clean, synth-driven lo-fi sound the band shines through due to the soothing vocals of Emma Proulx.
Their dream-pop aesthetic and tight grooves and certainly inspired by disco, however, it’s Proulx’s balming voice that pushes the envelope. Their latest album, Oncle Jazz, is an expansive work and their most full-bodied, musical portrait yet. Melt away to this 24-song catalogue of cozy pop, jazz rhythms, and vocals that cascade like an avalanche of honey.
The sublime disco from Derbyshire trio Patawawa is infectious, sassy, and steeped in ’90s French house. What’s not to love? Jokingly self-described as “deep-soul-avant-garde-indie-underground-baritone-discofunk,” the outfit just cut to the core of disco and make music that’s fun.
Pure and simple, the group record their neo-classics in a closet under the stairs, thriving in tight spaces and adding the minimalist charm of their arrangements. Shedding light on their melting pot of influences Beth Garret said, “We all love 60s, 70s and 80s disco, funk and soul. Sam is a little bit too into Alex Turner. We think he’s awful – someone had to say it.”