Right now, I have a lot of cool dance music on my desk, a lot of it world incarnations. Lagos Disco Inferno (Academy LPs) collects tracks from the late 1970s recorded in Lagos when the disco craze was worldwide. The weakest tracks find Nigerians parroting the disco beat and language – songs include “Boogie Trip,” “Boogie Train,” “Dancing Machine” and “Bad City Girl” – but even those tracks are entertaining for their slight alien-ness. The coolest tracks merge disco and funk with Afrobeat for something fresh (Pogo Ltd.’s “Don’t Put Me Down,” the acider-than-Sly “Everybody Get Down” by Asika Rock Group).
Other recent world releases that have my attention are Brazilian singer Luisa Maita’s Lero-Lero (Cumbancha), a contemporary melding of bossa nova, jazz, funk and downtempo electronica; Quantic presenta Flowering Inferno’s Dog with a Rope (Tru Thoughts), which brings dub technique to Latin music, creating something hot and spacey in the process; Madlib Medicine Show’s No. 3 – Beat Konducta in Africa, an instrumental hip-hop album using Afrobeat, psychedelic rock from Africa and other pieces of found sound to create a rich, dense sound collage; and Saravah Soul’s Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts), Afro-Brazilian funk from London (that could generate a little more heat in my estimation).
From the country of New York City comes LCD Soundsystem’s This is Happening (DFA/Virgin), which quotes 1980s dance music without sounding retro. One of James Murphy’s smartest moves on the album is to make sure there’s a human presence amid the synthesizers, whether it’s his yelping voice, corny musical decisions or deadpan backing vocals. This is Happening starts on a perverse note – three minutes of “Dance Yourself Clean” at low volume before everything kicks in – but songs keep paying off, whether they’re the semi-jokey “Drunk Girls” and “You Wanted a Hit” or the straighter dance rock of “One Touch” and “I Can Change.”
And when the dancing’s over, you can cuddle and coo to Band of Horses’ Infinite Arms (Fat Possum/Columbia). It’s the best yacht rock album of 2010.