Listen: Mid-Century Modern Romance (2021) – Dante Elephante

Although life’s one true constant is change, that change appears to approach in a recurrent pattern. What goes around comes around, and goes around again. The resurgence of disco, for example, is among us: roller skates, bell bottoms, and handlebar mustaches have been recycled, yet again, into popularity in the 2020s. A byproduct of this cultural resurgence is Dante Elephante’s EP, Mid-Century Modern Romance.

Dante Elephante’s 2015 garage rock debut, Anglo-Saxon Summer varies greatly from Mid-Century Modern Romance, possibly due to the latest EP being solo venture. Ruben Zarate, the man behind the pseudonym, shared with American Songwriter that the inspiration behind the different sound came from his family, and his home in Santa Barbara: “I grew up listening to Electro-Funk, Disco, Post-Disco, and Boogie music with my parents. This is the first time I’ve finally been able to fully commit to this style,” he said.

Released in January of 2021, via Born Losers Records, Mid-Century Modern Romance is Zarate’s pop solo debut. The EP catapults us straight into mirrorball nostalgia with the first track, “Find Somebody to Love.” The track, with the help of healthy amounts of brass, is an upbeat grant of permission to do exactly as the title suggests: “I’ll make my way back somehow/ So don’t call it the end, you can make some new friends / Until I’m back in town.” With a life on the road, Zarate suggests finding love in the meantime.

Ruben Zarate photographed by Jon Hill

In “E-Motion,” Zarate sweetly embraces every tumblr girl’s favorite trope of friends-to-lovers: “Emotions take control / Who knows me the way that you do? / We’ve been friends so long / How come I’ve never been close to you?” As the second single from the EP, “E-Motions” was released with an equally fun and entertaining music video, starring professional showgirl, Martine.

In a press release for “Las Vegas,” Zarate shared the inspiration behind the song, saying, “My grandmother loved to gamble, and she was good at it. It’s only 5 hours away from Santa Barbara so we would go all the time growing up.” Zarate shared that his partner, Jeni (Zarate’s muse on “Jeni”) had yet to visit, which sparked a spontaneous booking of a room in the City of Lost Wages. The track is a warm, sunny breeze with a perfectly sticky chorus that remains with you hours after listening.

Consisting of 8 keyboard-heavy, disco-kissed, funk-swaddled tracks, Mid-Century Modern Romance is a perfectly fun spring soundtrack, and quite honestly, just a good goddamn time.

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Listen: “Chill Out” – Barcode Pony

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By Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties who is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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