Arts Desk

Party Bros. Have a New Label and a Song About Malcolm X Park, Bro

Party Bros. aren't just about the partying, bro. For a while now, the D.C. house/electro duo of DJs Gavin Holland and Chris Burns have pumped out kaleidoscopic party jams, semi-ironically toasted scenester-party vapidity, and, um, partied on boats. But Party Bros. happen to have a softer, more glazed, possibly fantasy-obsessed side, which they seem to have fully realized with their new label, Mysteries of the Mind. "We’re starting this label to put out projects from ourselves and our friends that fall outside the realm of traditional dance music," Burns writes on his blog, and: Well, yeah.

The first release from Mysteries of the Mind is a self-titled Party Bros. 12-inch featuring four tracks. "Heartstones" is a slow-simmering comedown epic—a little bit in M83's vein, and canny enough to let an air siren boil into a sax solo. Respect. "Arboretum", meanwhile, takes the early-morning bliss a bit too far: It's pretty close to the kind of thing you'd hear on one of those waterfall compilations sold at The Sharper Image.

My favorites are "Malcolm X Park (After Dark)" and its dub remix—and not just because Meridian Hill Park is overdue for an another anthem. The sexy-apocalyptic instrumental is sweet, as is the pitched-down horror-trailer vocal hook: "Malcolm X Park after dark/illicit pleasures a world apart/what the eye beholds but you don't see/pleasure, pain, confusion, fantasy."

The song riffs on a scene Holland stumbled upon at the park, though he adds it's also a reference to the classic D.C. funk anthem "Rock Creek Park," by The Blackbyrds. The song, which features both Holland and Burns' vocals, marks the first time Holland has written lyrics and sung on record.

In an email, Holland shares his inspiration:

Well, one winter day a few years ago, I was walking up 16th St. and noticed a truly bizarre sight on a landing in a stairwell of Meridian Hill Park — there was a little 70s-looking puke green suitcase busted open, with gay porn VHS tapes sprawled out everywhere.  The scene looked violent and anachronistic – vintage gay porn deal gone wrong?  I was relating this story to Chris, and we just started to get amped on what might have happened, and how sketchy Meridian Hill Park can be at night... soon enough we were writing lyrics about how we imagined a supremely grimy version of that space in the late 70s or early 80s, with powerful, closeted politicians meeting up with prostitutes in the cloak of night to get their kicks.

The EP is out on Feb. 28.

For now, take a listen to the whole thing:

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