Miami Horror proves disco isn't a lost cause, but rather a cause for celebration 

The Horror! The Horror!

The Horror! The Horror!

Disco. Nashville. There's two nouns you're not likely to see in the same sentence. One wouldn't be out of line for thinking the two were mutually exclusive. One would, however, be wrong — but we can't blame one for thinking that. Superficially, Nashville doesn't come across as a disco sort of town — blame all the neon cowboy-boot signs — and disco's history as a panethnic, pansexual celebration of personal freedom doesn't quite jive with country music's history as the blond-haired, blue-eyed heteronormative version of "Real America." On the surface, modern dance music's paterfamilias and the home of Music Row should have nothing to do with each other.

But like most things in modern Music City, the tourist brochures are misleading, the old mores are, um, more or less abandoned, and the traditional barriers between musical forms have been torn down — this city loves itself some disco! No, seriously, I've seen it in person — in the flesh, if you will — and I'll bet you've seen it, too. We're not about to give Larry Levan a plaque on the Walk of Fame, but I've definitely seen crusty old rockers in East Nashville dive bars pump their drunken fists and bust out the full-body head-nod to Bombers' super-deep disco classic "Don't Stop the Music." I've seen a pack of internationally acclaimed indie-folkies shake it something serious to Gino Soccio's "Dancer," and you can't play "Ring My Bell" in this town without the looming threat of a riot breaking out.

And that's just listening to the classics outside of a traditional club environment — modern disco is even more of a mover and shaker, and an even more important part of this city's nightlife landscape. Y2K — the weekly Saturday dance party at 12th & Porter — is arguably the biggest, most respected party in the city, drawing hundreds of people every week, and one might even go so far as to say its success is the result of DJ/Y2K mastermind Coach's unbeatable ear for the latest and greatest in funky four-on-the-floor sounds. Monthlies like Vital — presented by blogger-philanthropists Vitalic Noise — and new hot bands like Cherub have dipped their buckets in the disco stream with great success, and Nashville's burgeoning hip-hop scene isn't afraid to bust out the mirror ball when the mood strikes. In other words, disco is in the air and on the sound system all across the city.

Which is why a good turnout for Australian disco-pop quartet Miami Horror at Mercy Lounge is an actual possibility — listening to records is all well and good, but there's nothing like a live band to get the blood pumping. While the Horror began as the solo remix endeavor of producer Benjamin Plant, cranking out some of the best remixes of the Naughty Aughties — it takes a lot to improve on Stardust's ultra-mega-super-classic "Music Sounds Better With You," but damn it if Plant didn't pull it off — Miami Horror circa now is a full-on, full-band funk phenomenon. Pulling as much influence from the classic synth sounds of Soccio and Giorgio Moroder's '70s work as it does from the angularity of early '80s New Wave and electro, the coquettish allure of Hi-NRG and the propulsive, organic grooves of early house music, Miami Horror is a disco nerd's wet dream.

On the band's 2010 debut Illumination — their first album following a string of killer singles and EPs — Miami Horror aims for the heart of your soul and rides the funk into the deepest depths of your mind. "Holidays" is the kind of shimmering, slinky dance pop that answers such cosmic questions as "Why did God create sunrises?" and "What would it feel like to be cryogenically preserved in a state of pure, absolute vacation?" Illumination is all wall-to-wall bangers — stunning slices of poppy, hands-in-the-air disco-house that thump and bump in sublime ways. "Echoplex" is a nearly perfect slice of Italo-influenced electro, "Soft Light" sparkles like it came from outer space, and "Sometimes" ... well, "Sometimes" is pure pop genius of the New Order variety. For a city that loves a well-crafted, well-performed song, Miami Horror is gonna totally hit the sweet spot.

And while the rockist version of music history is quick to dismiss disco and its offshoots as less than music, the reality of the matter is that if people are going to dance — to disco or otherwise — the song has to be good. You can't just fart into a microphone in four-four time. There needs to be something more going on — the melodies have to be strong, the performances need to be tight, and the atmosphere needs to be right. Which is why you are all expected to be on the dance floor for Miami Horror.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

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