Certain music critics often remind us that disco was born out of the American economic slump of the 1970s. As much as an act of social, hedonistic, defiance against a climate of unemployment and austerity, disco gave us not only a groove to dance to, but also interesting narrative themes which mirrored the experiences of its audience.
The lyrics of dance/disco classic ‘Staying Alive’, for example, prove that contrary to its reputation the genre shouldn’t always be seen as a castrated, commercialised version of funk but occasionally a weapon for social analysis and discourse. Life’s going nowhere, somebody help me.
Whilst disco fell away, fairly apocalyptically, behind the ‘disco sucks’ campaign its legacy was never fully lost. Super producer Nile Rodgers (in the 80s) and big-beat (90s), both reminded us that groove-based tracks, with pop sensibilities, could make us simultaneously dance and philosophise.
Of the contemporary bands championing the disco sound and sensibility, perhaps few have been as exciting this decade as Leeds-based three-piece, Galaxians.
Creating a sound that is part Jamiroquai, part Chic, and part ‘Wall of Sound’ era Les Rythmn digitalises, Galaxians open their set at the Cumberland by charging into a disco sounding groove that is pulsating in rhythm and impossible not to dance to.
Recently announced band member, Emma Mason, joins to ground the sound with soulful, uplifting, vocals – it’s a move which provides both a central theme and a clever soundtrack shift from a New York-based groove to a Chicago soul-house sound.
Perhaps unintentionally, Emma is the star of the show, eclipsing the electronic soundtrack with her strong vocals, wide smile and facial gestures which scream “I can’t believe just how good this band is” innocence. It’s a nice touch, as is the way she steps off stage and into the crowd intermittently during instrumental tracks and cleverly destroying any audience/crowd barriers.
Perhaps, similar to 1970 America, now is the perfect time for groove-based, hedonistic, forget-your-problems-and cut loose dance tunes – it certainly seemed like the only option to the Cumberland arms audience.