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:


Justice – ALAKAZAM !

Nearly 4 months ago — after leaving us high and dry for almost 3 years — Justice finally blessed us with new music. Safe and Sound was like that warm embrace you get from a friend you haven’t seen in years, and in the best way possible, it hearkened back to their 2008 smash hit D.A.N.C.E. 

Well, brace yourselves: Justice has dropped a new track in advance of a their latest album release on Tuesday. I repeat: new Justice album this Tuesday! All things said, Alakazam! is a playful, (and extremely) funky tribute to 70’s disco and the underground club scene that developed as a result — check out the video below, and you’ll see what I mean. In a nutshell, if this new single is any indication of what we can expect on Tuesday, I know what I’ll be listening to for the next 3 months.

Justice – Safe and Sound

The year was 2008. I had just received a new iPod Nano that I was eager to fill with music, and my friends were more than willing to help. In one fell swoop, my ears met Beirut, Bon Iver, and Iron and Wine, but one single stuck out— a little known track called “D.A.N.C.E.,” from a French house duo named Justice. I’d always been a fan of French electronic acts, like Air and Daft Punk, but with Justice, I discovered a side of French electronic music that was more playful.

“Safe and Sound” is the duo’s first new release in nearly three years, but the sound is classic Justice — complete with their trademark slap bass, funky synthesized strings and infectious vocals sung by a choir in unison. And in a world where the nature of electronic music is constantly evolving, it’s comforting to know that some things can and will stay the same.