Megan Buerger

If electronic music is best described as a journey, many of the tracks topping today's charts are joyrides down the Vegas strip — blissed-out pop vocals, bass stunts and flashy, dramatic synths designed to spur sensory overload. That's all well and good, but it's a small snapshot of a vast genre.

Craving real connection? Forget your darkest secret or most embarrassing moment, and tell someone what you dreamed about last night. That's getting personal. Take it from Zach Shields and Maize LaRue, who make up Night Things, a budding Los Angeles synth-pop band that sounds like a sunny reboot of Duran Duran.

Thanks to La La Land, Hollywood is getting shine for its magical skyline and hamster-wheel hustle. But if the film's characters had been more into house music than old-school jazz, Phantoms could've provided the perfect soundtrack. The production duo — Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola, two former teen actors who traded the red carpet for the recording studio — makes escapist, vocal-heavy dance music inspired by the city's surreal nightlife, an amusement park of gritty warehouses and glitzy nightclubs in which everyone's trying to make it.

Dating can feel like a soulless sport, but Lemaitre, a Norwegian indie-electronic duo known for bouncy rhythms and catchy hooks, sees beauty in our collective agony. Take "Playing To Lose," a brooding R&B jam from its 2016 EP, Afterglow. The song is about someone looking for love in all the wrong places, but Lemaitre makes the dreary topic surprisingly optimistic. Weaving together heavy drums, hopeful hooks and guest vocalist Stanaj's fluttering falsetto, they capture the highs and lows of intimacy, culminating in a rousing chorus that swells around and around again.

Dirtybird Records is spreading its wings. The once-boutique dance-music label with roots in San Francisco has gone global, nabbing a residency in Ibiza, its own sell-out festival outside Los Angeles and a sweeping tour of BBQ day parties from Seattle to Brooklyn. But while founder Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin have become the go-to headliners, performing everywhere from Coachella to Mysteryland, Shiba San has emerged as the label's secret weapon.

When the Toronto electro-pop trio DIANA released its debut album, Perpetual Surrender, in 2013, it kept a low profile — with blurred photos, reverb-heavy vocals and roundabout answers to questions about who Diana is, exactly. The musicians' responses were never direct. "It's an emotion," they'd say. "It's your perspective."

To all the DJ superfans who flood Reddit, Soundcloud, and YouTube with set list questions and track ID requests: Congratulations, you've been heard. Three of bass music's biggest stars — Skrillex, RL Grime, and What So Not — have joined forces to release a highly anticipated track two years in the making, and it's all because of your persistence.

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