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Music that makes you dance

When I was younger, I could spend hours browsing the shelves of Borders Bookstore looking for new music. There were rows and rows of plastic wrapped jewel cases. I was practically picking CDs at random and hoping for the best. Now, I like to browse the library’s online catalog of New Titles. Also spotting something I need to hear happens naturally while I'm shelving CDs! I can browse and freely check out something simply because it looks interesting. This is how I found the album Use Me by Pvris (pronounced Paris) a few months ago. Listening to the CD in my car on the way home, I was instantly drawn in and dancing. 

My taste in music is all over the place, but some of my favorites are songs I can “dance” to while driving, cooking or cleaning. Here’s a look into some of the albums I’ve been listening to in the car and at home, while I am dance-cleaning (or cooking or driving) like no one is watching. <

Use Me by Pvris Hoopla< CD 

CD coverPvris is a new-to-me find. I still have only listened to their third album, released August 2020, simply because I have not tired of these songs yet, especially the first half of the album.

The opening track "Gimme a Minute" starts slow but builds to a fun beat and a very dance-able chorus. The lyrics are easy to really belt out in the car. Where the second track gives me hints of early Tegan and Sara and a heavier alt-pop lean. The song "Stay Gold" is a pop-y, groovy bop reminding me of Rilo Kiley circa Under the Blacklight. "Good to Be Alive" is more reflective, less dance party, with lyrics that really hit some days:  

Lost big dreams that I really don’t need
Everything I love’s gonna find a way to leave
Got good friends that I never can see
Always on the run when their plans are free 

We get a couple more fun dance tracks before the album takes a quieter turn, with dreamier tones, more wistful lyrics and acoustic guitar. The album ends with the sultry "Use Me" and the dance-beat track "Wish you Well." 

Free Love by Sylvan Esso Hoopla 

Free love CDFree Love is the third album from Sylvan Esso, an electro-pop duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn from North Carolina. Meath is part of the folk trio Mountain Man. Sanborn is the producer and bassist of Megafaun. Sylvan Esso has become one of my favorite listens, and Free Love exemplifies their unique sound. 

The album opens with one of their most minimalistic tracks with dreamy lyrics and looping that kicks off a slew of bouncy, synthy songs. This is where I recommend turning up the bass and the volume. "Ferris Wheel" is a super fun bop, recalling the carefree fun of summers when we were young. The energy of "Train" is infectious, filled with hand claps and clever wordplay. Sylvan Esso changes the vibe for slower, synth-heavy "Numb," but still makes it a track I can’t help but dance to. The calmer vibes continue into "Free and Frequency," which highlights Meath’s beautiful, dreamy vocals. 

The album is short, with the 10 tracks coming in at 30 minutes, but it manages to tackle a range of emotions and topics. "Runaway" sounds like another synth-heavy, catchy dance song. However, the duo wrote it in response to their anxiety around gun violence at concerts. "Rooftop Dancing" has a sweet and simple sound, despite the samples, drum machine and vocal layers. "Make It Easy" ends the album, working like a bookend with the first song What If – minimalistic and slow-building.  Sylvan Esso continues to explore their unique sound in their most recent album No Rules Sandy.  

Vagabon by Vagabon Hoopla 

Vagabon CDWhen I need a different vibe, self-titled album Vagabon is the answer. It's a great choice for an easy drive with the windows down. This is the second album from Laetitia Tamko (stage name Vagabon) who wrote and produced the album. I found Vagabon by way of Courtney Barnett (whose first album is one of my all time favorites) because they toured together in 2018. 

Where her first release was a more guitar driven indie-rock album, this second album leans electro-pop - like Sylvan Esso, however, Vagabon is not filled with dance tracks. Vagabon begins and ends with the same song "Full Moon in Gemini." The first track opens with Vagabon’s beautiful vocals as well as strings and synth beats. The last track is the same song minus the dream-pop sound performed primarily by indie band Monako.  

In the song "Flood" Vagabon’s deep voice drips over the synth sounds and beats. It reminds me of the moody mid-2000’s vibes of Imogen Heap/Frou Frou. "In a Bind" sits in the middle of the album, and the acoustic guitar, simple vocals and backing chorus act as a bit of an intermission from the more synthesized sound of tracks like "Secret Machine," "Water Me Down," and "Wits About You."

"Please Don’t Leave the Table" and "Home Soon" are layered, ethereal and orchestral. Vagabon’s unique voice and delivery gives us songs full of emotion without being lyric heavy. 

Vagabon has called "Every Woman" the thesis of her album. She said, “It’s an ode to all those who feel different and who actively search and fight for space.” Even though the song is soft and slow, it feels powerful and affirming. It's the perfect ode for the women I know. 

vening starts when I’m done
It won’t be long before
All the women I meet are tired
They just kick up prior
'Cause we’re not afraid of the war we brought on
And we’re steady while holding on 

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