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 81

1. Griz – Wicked (ft. Eric Krasno)
The new Griz album, Good Will Prevail, is out, and it is absolutely massive. This track in particular. Gorgeous, dripping with emotion, so real, so needed in these times we live in. This is like the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Goosebumps. Everywhere. I love you, Griz.

2. Skuls – Blok
Broken beats, heavy bass, distorted vocals, impeccable sound design, what more could you ask for?

3. Quay Dash – Shades On Top Down
Rapper Quay Dash spits on this great production from Hongsamman. A shining example of what can happen when hip hop and electronic work together. Really fun track.

4. Roche – Sity To Sky (Hotthobo Relish Edit)
One of those treasured songs that’s like equally great in the early morning and late at night. Can chill or groove to it. My happy place.

5. Enzo Siragusa – Figain
I heard this in a mix at some point and had no luck hunting it down. Thankfully, it popped up in my feed this week. Give this one a little time and you’ll be rewarded. A lighthearted dance tune.

6. Cold Miles – Silicon
Deep tech house at its finest. Basically, if the Noir label has their name on it, you can expect great things. I love this revival of old school, pulsing, heavy, dark techno that is just everywhere these days. Makes me wanna get all sweaty at a warehouse rave.

7. Undercatt – Venus
Some more deepness for ya, from Italian producers Undercatt. This is on Diynamic, another stellar label that’s always dependable. Sit back and let this one consume you.

8. Youandewan – Left on Lucy (ft. Huerta)
I’m a big fan of pretty much everything I hear from Youandewan. Just some of the most delightful, low-key dance music out there, consistently.

9. Junk Son – Picture (Ghost Culture Remix)
The atmosphere on this remix is on point. Layer after layer of synths, each one adding texture, creating a very full song that’ll just overwhelm you. Definitely see a bit of Maribou State influence here.

10. Max Cooper – Waves
The best for last? This track from Max Cooper is a slow meditation on sounds, and is just a fucking delight.