Swing isn’t dead; it’s just changed its clothes. That’s right, the genre that typified the 1920s and the following decades’ musical proclivities may not be around in abundance today, but it can still be found if you look for it. Sure you can browse Youtube for videos of your favourite swing musicians: Glen Miller, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman videos litter the video-hosting site, allowing enthusiasts of the present day to sample the delight of the musical past. But swing music is still alive and kicking even today, but not exactly in the form that it once took. Electro swing is a genre that has been making attempts to break out from the realms of obscurity for quite some time now, and though not entirely successful, it is rising to prominence in some areas of the world and is seeing more and more club nights dedicated to its hybrid style (Electro Swing Club has locations internationally) . Electro swing is exactly as it sounds: big-band arrangements or samples from old (and some new) swing songs mixed seamlessly with straight four-four beats, samples, synths, and all sorts of modern-day particulars. If there was ever a genre that could marry the past and present, it would bet this one, so here are a few songs to encourage you to come around to electro swing’s way of thinking.
Catgroove – Parov Stelar
Probably one of Stelar’s most famous tracks due to the meteoric rise to Youtube stardom of the accompanying dance, Catgroove typifies the electro swing genre. You’ve got the straight-up, driving electro beat, the alternating-octave bassline on every beat and an extremely catchy melody that kicks in when the song is in full swing. Perfect to dance to or simply have on in the background, Catgroove is the perfect track to introduce unfamiliar friends to the genre and show them what it has to offer.
Dragons - Caravan Palace
Beginning with the simple guitar melody that makes up the bulk of the tune, this one is a playful track with a fairly lively bass line and a sound that you can't just help feel good about. We’ve got some solos from pianos and strings and rhythmic accents from brass and other instruments from the many layers in this song. This is another one to show your friends if you’re trying to make them understand what electro swing is all about, Get Dragons - Caravan Palace at iTunes.
Bad Boy Good Man - Tape Five
This song is exactly why I love the genre of electro swing. Not only does it have a fantastic swinging drum beat to begin and a driving electro-paced beat underneath, you’ve got some brilliant vocal melodies that are harmonized at the right time as well as muted trumpets and solos from woodwind instruments in there as well including some saxophone action. What more could you want from an electro swing song?
Jelly Belly - Bobby C Sound TV
This track shows a great deal of electro influence as well as using swing samples, though it features a lot more of the former than the latter. The bass line here is entirely synthesized and is almost wobbly like electro songs should be, and the vocal melody and accompanying instruments are sampled from what is clearly a swing recording from a great deal of time ago. This one is catchy, slow, but full of energy in spite of its more down-tempo feel
The influences are all over the place in this one, from a hip hop beat to the classic dubstep wobble through to the fantastic muted trumpet overlay that keeps reappearing after all that wobble. This isn’t classic electric swing, but wait for the brilliant trumpet melody roughly forty seconds in and tell me that it isn’t 100% contagious, and from producer and DJ JFB, who is incredibly talented in pretty much every musical way.