S2D2 Top 100 Tracks of 2016

It’s always a bit weird compiling a “best of” list, because there is so much music out there that there’s no way to listen to all of it, let alone judge it objectively.

2016 was a special year for music. When the world trembles and quakes, we turn to music to say the things we cannot say, and feel the things we so desperately need to feel. Music is an escape, but for me at least, it’s more than that. Music is the ultimate form of expression. This year, I’ve felt so inundated with words, and media, and social media, and felt like I’ve been drowning in all of the terrible things that have happened to humans all over the world. Music has been, as always, my salvation from that. There is magic in a song that hits you just right, in the moment that you need it most. Music makes us transcendental. In those moments we are lost in the music, we cease to be, the world melts away, and we dance, and we come away refreshed and strong.

In a year that was mostly shit, most of my highlights had to do with that magic: Eric Prydz dropping “The Matrix” at the Armory in San Francisco; DJ Shadow playing the old and new seamlessly, casual scratch wizardry on display; losing my shit to new tunes, always, whether I’m at my desk or in my car or at the club; Scuba getting dark in the rave cave at Monarch, praying to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book after dosing in Golden Gate Park; taking a time machine to my teenage emo years and seeing Brand New at the Greek; and even still, I spent most of the year listening to A Moon Shaped Pool over and over.


Trends: techno, deep tech, disco/tech, lo-fi house, acid house, wave, future funk

It seems like everyone hopped on the techno bandwagon this year, whether it was straight up banging tech, deep tech house, or this kind of disco/tech hybrid that’s been taking off in the underground. Disco is bigger than ever, and that’s saying something. House was pulled in one direction to become very, very techy, getting deep af along the way, and in another direction towards to the lo-fi house realm, a la Mall Grab, Seb Wildblood, and the Church records crew. Future bass is alive and well, and wave has split off out of that, essentially trap without the beats — luscious and atmospheric. Future funk, the jazzy, funky, and banging sound out of the West Coast and Colorado, is also huge out here, thanks to Griz’s domination.

I had a lot of fun making the top 100 this year. There was so much great music! The whole point of S2D2 is to highlight music that you might not otherwise hear about, so while there’s some overlap with other lists like Thump’s or Mixmag’s, there’s also a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t get talked about in the “underground electronic media” or whatever. So hopefully you will find lots of new tunes and artists from all over the map, literally and musically 🙂

I made a Spotify playlist, but there are a few songs that aren’t on Spotify, so I’ll be releasing a SoundCloud playlist as well. Enjoy!

Edit: Real quick, I want to call out the tracks that aren’t available on Spotify, because they are VERY IMPORTANT, and are all in my top 10 for the year:

 

S2D2 Vol 83

1. Dusky – Songs of Phase
Some pulsing techno from Dusky. These guys can seemingly do no wrong, and they are still so young. The amount of exploration they do across all genres of electronic is consistently astounding. Few people are on their level, production-wise, in 2016.

2. NineFive – The Curve
Classic breakbeats over a tech-house bassline, this shit is primed for the dancefloor.

3. Second Storey & Appleblim – Levying Rooks
A super fun, wacky collab from UK producers Second Storey and Appleblim, off R&S Records (always a good time). That’s some refreshing techno.

4. Boddika & Joy Orbison – Severed Seven
When these two collaborate you know it’s gonna be good. They go full industrial on this one, with acid-style synths, an unforgiving beat, and a massive, hollow sound that’ll fit in perfect in some grungy warehouse party.

5. Reinier Zonneveld – Things We Might Have Said (feat. Cari Golden)
HUGE.

6. Sailor & I + Eekkoo – Letters (Lower Case) (Noir Remix)
Noir is making some of the best deep tech house. Beautiful + heavy, great rework of the original.

7. Charlotte Cardin – Faufile (CRi Remix)
CRi is my breakout artist of the year, just gorgeous shit from them all summer long.

8. Recondite – Capable
It’s pretty astounding how he can achieve so much with so little. Massive song (turn up the bass), yet minimal to the extreme.

9. Theo Kottis – Running Nowhere
Another artist who has gained a lot of respect from me this year, Theo Kottis delivers again with this deeeeeeeep groove.

10. RÜFÜS – Innerbloom (Lane 8 Remix)
I had a panic attack when I saw this today. My favorite producer remixing my favorite track? YES PLEASE 😍

S2D2 Vol 63

1. Dusky — Ingrid Is A Hybrid
Somehow this slipped past my radar when it was released earlier in April. So glad I caught it; this shit is a masterpiece. Bravo, Dusky. I reposted this on SC yesterday and a friend texted me to say thanks. He said he heard it in a set at Coachella over the weekend and cried. For the record, I am 100% behind crying at sets. Weep your fucking heart out. Dance like a weirdo. Do you.

2. Waifs & Strays — Fire In Me (Vocal Mix)
Love the vocals on this track and it just so happens to be the vocal mix (meaning they are highlighted more than other versions of the track). This song’s got a great groove, I could listen to it over and over.

3. RY X — Deliverance (Fort Romeau Remix)
This is a stellar remix, so dreamy. Fort Romeau is playing this weekend in San Francisco and I highly recommend going if you have the means. Music to get lost in…

4. Naduve — A Trip In Tel Aviv (Man Power Remix)
Man Power takes this and runs with it, and it lives up to its name: this track is a trip. Some power tech-house to get you through the day.

5. Flux Pavilion — I Can’t Stop (EKALI Tribute)
A great little refix of a classic song. Regardless how you felt about “American dubstep” or whatever, you definitely danced to this song at one point. I was never a huge Flux Pavilion fan but you best believe I listened to this song all. the. time. Thanks for bringing it back into our lives, Ekali.

6. Zeke Beats — Meltdown
I’ve been curating the Beats group for A Song A Day for the past few months so I’m always on the lookout for producers getting down and dirty, and Zeke Beats is fucking DIRTY. This track is so heavy, in the best way. I’m pretty picky about this kind of stuff — there’s so much trap and bass music that slaps hard just for the sake of slapping hard and isn’t redeeming musically. So when I find something like this that is a absolute banger while also justifying its musical existence, I’m all over it.

7. Audion — Mouth To Mouth (Jamie Jones Remix)
It’s the 10th anniversary of this song (Audion is an alias of Matthew Dear’s), and a whole slew of remixes were just dropped, this one being my favorite. I’m a sucker for anything Jamie Jones puts his hands on. A simple remix, the bridge is the best part — makes me wanna dance, yo.

8. Photay — Zeitgebers (Erik Luebs Remix)
A quintessential comedown track.

9. Jan Blomqvist — Empty Floor
I like this guy’s style a lot and this is the best track I’ve heard out of him. So much dreamy house out there these days that manages to stay away from being cheesy. A lot of it has been reminding me of classic trance in the way it makes you feel, and perhaps in the structure, too.

10. Prince — Nothing Compares 2 U (DJDS Club Mix)
Spent the past week watching copious amounts of Prince videos and appreciating this genius musician. So sad that he died so young when he still had so much left to give. Selfishly, I’m also sad that I never saw him live, even though he played in the Bay Area a few times a year. Wish I’d dropped $500 for tickets now… It brings up the point, go see your heroes when you can, because nothing is guaranteed.

As for this remix, DJ Dodger Stadium (horrible name, but and it’s two guys, one of whom is a producer I love, Jereme LOL) kicks this track up a notch, offering the perfect outlet for you to spin around the room dancing to Prince haus. A fitting way to close out this week’s playlist. Have fun.