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South-by-Shuffle: Let’s Dance

Give them credit: When Justice plotted an NYC stop on their current MySpace Music tour, they initially booked at Madison Square Garden. The arena. Where the Knicks play, or, we should say, where a few players wearing orange and blue occasionally conduct a lazy pick-up game. It was a bold move, and while the plan ultimately didn’t fly — the show was moved to the smaller (but still relatively cavernous), 3,500-capacity WaMu Theater at MSG — it did prove that dance music has a resurgent presence in this country not felt since the supposed-but-never-realized electronica takeover of 1997. Will SXSW 2008 serve as the launch pad for the next slew of dancefloor dominators? Let’s examine a few contenders.

Sure, the heavy hitters are coming to town: Diplo, Simian Mobile Disco, Moby, Cut Copy, MSTRKRFT, even Dan Deacon. Dirty, late-night dance parties are staples of the SXSW nightlife, and all of those acts are solid picks for drunken buffoonery. But who’s a little further off the radar?

One of the most rapped about acts so far is British quartet Does It Offend You, Yeah, whose single “Let’s Make Out” comes off like a pre-pubescent James Murphy fronting Klaxons. I mean that very, very affectionately, as I like both LCD Soundsystem and Klaxons quite a lot — and if you haven’t seen the Klaxons/Rihanna mash-up from the Brit Awards, do so now.

Also from the U.K., the Whip have been press darlings in the past year, particularly on the strength of “Trash” (MP3), a killer single that’s almost a bit too Soulwax-sounding for its own good, but can still wreck a room. Haven’t heard that these guys have much beyond that one track, but it’s worth a gander, as is their video for “Trash”:

More off the beaten bloggy path would be the Commodore-styled electro New Wave of Boston’s Fantasy Mirrors (MP3 at, whose “Human Beings” sounds older than some of your parents. Even further off, from Germany, comes Shir Khan, whose track “Office Boy” (MP3) busts out like a South American retread of M.I.A., replete with bratty Portuguese lyrics.

And from somewhere tight and leathery comes Captain Ahab — the Californians sharing milk in the photo above — whose skittish gay disco tune “I Can’t Wait for Summer” (MP3) pines for the days when one can spread suntan lotion on their man and when a snatch needs shaving for one to get any action.

I am certain, mind you, that SXSW fun can be had either with or without, umm, any, umm, “maintenance.” More picks coming this week, and definitely read our Artist of the Day section for even more SXSW artist profiles and suggestions.