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 84

Feel good.

1. Beck – Wow (TOKiMONSTA Remix)
A fun remix from LA basshead TOKiMONSTA. She balances that quirkiness of Beck with the mainstream bass sound, resulting in a song that has wide appeal without being stale — just begging to be played on repeat.

2. Lee Foss – Deep Congo
Loving the groove on this deep house cut from Hot Creations founder / Hot Natured member Lee Foss. Classic house with a 2016 twist and a walking bassline makes this fresh for daysss.

3. Mall Grab – I Just Wanna
Percussive, bassy, classic soul house? Yes please! Mall Grab makes this shit seem effortless. There’s something to please everyone in this lovely, energetic track and I just wanna dance around the room (no pun intended).

4. Luttrell – And Back
Eric Luttrell, one half of The M Machine, has an EP out, and this song is grand. Atmospheric and beautiful, but oh so groovy. Anjunadeep has been releasing some damn good music lately.

5. Boxed In – Forget (George FitzGerald Remix)
George FitzGerald packs so much emotion in his productions. Time after time, his stuff always makes me feel, sometimes viscerally. Somewhat melancholy but with wonder and beauty, so it’s a sweet kind of sadness.

6. Mark Reeve – Love You
You can feel the love in this one. Really well done.

7. Kidnap Kid – Mist
Kidnap Kid continues to experiment with his style, and this is a great deep house take. I always felt that his production was better than his taste, for lack of a better term, and it seems like his taste is maturing, finally giving his production skills a chance to shine.

8. Roberto – Lunar Waves
Someone is having fun with a new synthesizer! Layers of summer synths over an upbeat bassline, and that riff that starts around the 2:00 mark brings in a really nice energy for the rest of the track, as the layers slither in and out, the beat breaks down, and the song ends up in like a galactic jazz club, I dig.

9. B. Bravo – Energy
A lovely future bass downtempo track, also featuring a bit of space jazz. Love the way the vocals are distorted and then layered over each other, creating a rich, poignant sound.

10. Artifakts – Stellar
So apparently I commented “stellar” on this song without even realizing it’s called “Stellar.” Speaks for itself, I think.

Mix for your week: Mall Grab’s i-DJ masterpiece

I’m a huge fan of everything Mall Grab has been doing, and *finally* got around to listening to this mix, and man, I’m swooning over here. Two months late, I know, but I’m so glad that this mix is in my life. Someone commented on SoundCloud that you know it’s a good mix when you just listen to it repeatedly instead of immediately grabbing all of the songs out of it. I agree. You know it’s a good mix when it just flows so well, that it’s one cohesive piece of excellence, and even when you do inevitably grab all the good songs and listen to them on their own, it’s just not the same. Because the mix is king.

Songs To Dance To Vol 69

1. Mall Grab – Can’t Take It No More
A classic sounding tune, a summer tune, a lighthearted tune. Mall Grab can do no wrong.

2. Roosevelt – Colours (Prins Thomas Diskomiks)
The original song came out last summer and I enjoyed it, but this remix takes it to a whole other level. This is definitely going to be playing all summer long.

3. Rodriguez – No, You Can’t (V’s Getting Away Edit)
If you listen to many mixes, you’ve definitely heard this in the past year. What a great groove!

4. Petar Dundov – The Lattice

5. Boston Bun – Banana (ft. Jodie Abacus)
Really enjoying this very strange track. Love the percussion, and in particular, the way the vocals in the chorus complement the percussion.

6. Ian Pooley – Cold Wait (Bicep Dub)
This track is straightforward, but oh so fun.

7. RÜFÜS DU SOL – Be With You (Booka Shade Remix)
Two of my favorites. Everything Booka Shade touches is gold, especially this track, which did not need improvement, but Booka turns it into a club track here.

8. Daft Punk vs. Pryda – A Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger SW4 (Judah Intro Edit)
Wooooooooooooooo!! Lezzz gooo

9. REZZ – Delusion
Off of REZZ’s new EP out now on mau5trap records. Heavy, pondering, delightful.

10. Artefakt – The Final Theory
Let this track take you somewhere far, far away.