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 79

Occasionally, I’ll skip a week of the S2D2 Thursday playlist/email and I send out a different playlist I’ve been working on instead. When I do this, it’s because I can’t find enough great songs to make a playlist for the week. Part of me feels lazy when I do this, but — good music does not come out on a regular schedule. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes there’s a ton of great releases all on the same day, and sometimes there’s nothing noteworthy for a week or two. And believe me, I spend a lot of time looking for music. I’ll throw in older songs too, but I like to keep it pretty fresh. Last week I skipped S2D2 and sent everyone a Songs To Chill To playlist. And I’m glad I did, because the music piled up, and this week’s is a DOOZY. It was hard as hell to narrow it down, which is always a good sign. Anyway, that’s my rambling way of telling you this week’s playlist is fucking great.

1. Big Makk & Sage Armstrong – Tabasco Sawce
Rest in peace, Big Makk. Thank you for your music! This song (like so many of his) is so. dope.

2. HNNY – Sneeze (Justin Jay Edit)
I still can’t get enough of Justin Jay. It’s kind of a dumb song, but fun as hell. His stuff is so energetic it makes me entertain the idea of using the word “dynamic”, which I’m usually against in all cases. I love that slowdown halfway through the track and then re-up of the tempo, whoo boy that’s gonna kill on the dancefloor.

3. Marquis Hawkes – Doornroosje
A bumper from Marquis Hawkes, a bit faster tempo than he usually plays with, and I’m into it. This is like techno meets disco, which, despite sounding like a strange combo, has been huge lately.

4. ANNA – When It Rains
Brazilian producer ANNA has dropped two songs off an upcoming EP, Artha, in the past week, and they are both superb. Pulsing upbeat tech-house right here. I get lost in this one. Title track “Artha” was released yesterday and is worth checking out as well.

5. Karmon – Outline
Loving this so much. Wow. A classic straightforward progressive track, it could honestly be made in any decade, and could be analog or digital. I know nothing about it, all I know is that I love it. Definitely reminds me of the stuff Simian Mobile Disco plays live (with a huge analog setup where they are twisting knobs and moving cords around on some boxes that are bigger than they are, it’s fucking awesome). Just wait too, it starts off great and gets even better. Massive.

6. Man vs Indian Man – Ice Accountant (Pontchartrain Remix)
This track perfectly strikes the balance between being catchy and high-quality production. No cheese here, just good summer fun. Love those keys!

7. Raf Rundell – Right Time
One half of 2 Bears, Raf Rundell just released his first solo track, off an upcoming album, The Adventures of Selfie Boy. This is a chill poolside song, perfect for that end of summer glow. I can see myself listening to this all autumn.

8. Infinity Ink – Full Capacity (Joris Voorn Remix)
Another fantastic remix from Joris Voorn. Killer groove, gorgeous bridge/buildups!

9. Fur Coat – Interstellar
Fur Coat can do no wrong in my book. This track is deep and dark, with glimmers of light, a slow-burner, give it time and it’ll reward you.

10. Ost & Kjex – Heatwave
Really enjoying this song. At almost ten minutes long it’s a good one to ease you off onto your day. As per usual with tracks this long, the last few minutes is the best part.