Text by Adam Lehrer
Primal Scream just released its 10th album, Chaosmosis, this week. The band has always flirted with mainstream pop and dance rhythms, but on this record the band is fully embracing indie pop, collaborating with Sky Ferreira on the excellent Where the Light Gets In and Haim on the less good Trippin' On Your Love. The band has evolved past the alternative dance sound they helped define. I won't comment on the quality of the album, but let's ust say Bobby Gillepsie has not let the past define him.
Alternative dance more or less set the pace for what pop music would become in the decades to follow. It was the first time when indie rock kids would dance at raves and DJs would open for rock bands. In the Information Age, peoples' tastes have grown even further outward, and no one blinks twice when you see the lead singer of your favorite rock band dancing on Molly at Output.
Alternative pop was basically broken down into three eras. The first came out of England in the early and mid-80s, starting with the Madchester (but that's for another playlist) scene based around Factory Records honcho Tony Wilson (immortalized by Steeve Coogan in 24 Hour Party People) and his club The Hacienda. New Order, formed in the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis' suicide, was arguably the first band to approach dance music from a traditional rock attack. Later,The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays would own the club with their own riffs and dance rhythms. Primal Scream, formed by Gillepsie after his tenure in The Jesus and Mary Chain, was an amalgam of a love for LSD-worshipping psych rock, amphetamine-driven punk, and MDMA-laced acid house. Scream's debut Screamdelica is the landmark album of alternative dance music.
The second wave, in the mid-'90s, had more in line with techno and dance music that it did rock music. Groups like The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, and to a lesser extent The Crystal Method, had the anthemic bombast of punk and rock but used all electronic sounds. These groups did however predate mainstream EDM with their ability to take the sounds of the acid house and make it work within a stadium context.
In the early '00s, the rock sound came back into the onslaught of Alt-Dance bands. For a while, it was the sound of New York, with The Rapture's House of Jealous Lovers blaring out of every speakersystem south of 14th street. Kathleen Hanna followed up her legendary riot grrl punk band Bikini Kill with a decidedly dance-leaning trio, Le Tigre. And perhaps the most successful of all of these bands proved to be James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem, who used Alternative Dance as a conceptual art project and had massive effect on popular music at large.