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 66

1. Theophilus London – Stay

After a two year hiatus, it’s good to hear a new Theophilus track — and there’s a full album coming! Pretty sure that’s Kid Cudi’s luscious voice on the chorus, always a good addition. A simple tune, very summery, very New York, and you’ll definitely be hearing it again.

2. Pearson Sound – XLB

Someone is having fun with their synthesizers! Loving the way this new tune rolls through its different phases. And that drop smack in the middle opens up the track into a club banger. Really unique stuff.

3. Boys Noize – Rock The Bells

Boys Noize just dropped a new album, Mayday, and surprise, it’s excellent. He continues to do weird new shit, stretching out in every direction like a funky octopus, touching tentacles to every style of music. No one sounds like Boys Noize and I love his commitment to that. This is a fun track, I loooooove the drop.

4. Gramatik – Bluestep

Can’t really say enough about the quality of stuff Gramatik has been putting out for the few years. This is an old one but I had to stick in there. Can’t have summertime without Gramatik.

5. Jon Phonics – Nagasaki VIP

Few things are better than that minimal trap that hits hard affff.

6. Cirez D – Century of the Mouse

Eric Prydz just released two new tracks on his techno alias Cirez D — always a source of hard-hitting tunes. It’s the progressive Prydz we know and love, just a little darker and a little less PLUR.

7. Tenant – Run Run Devices

Listen to this on headphones.

8. Ashworth – Lost (Matt Karmil Remix)

Matt Karmil has such an interesting touch, his productions always have some unique quality that I can’t quite put my finger on. This is one to get lost in, for sure.

9. FFX – Promnite (Star Slinger Remix)

The perfect laid-back summer tune.

10. Flamingosis – Believe In Me

Pure vibes ✌️