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 64

1. Jeremy Olander — Falls
Jeremy Olander is on a tear. He just released two EPs under his Dillon moniker and one under Olander! I mean, wtf. And the songs are all great. Out of the 2nd Dhillon EP and this EP, this track is my favorite. It has Eric Prydz all over it. Just some gorgeous, sparkly progressive house that can bang.

2. Tourist — Separate Ways
Off of the new Tourist LP, which is great and you can get for free on torrents (legally). I’ve been a big fan of Tourist for a long time, so I was incredibly happy to get a whole bunch of new material. His stuff is bassy and soulful in a way that just hits me at the core.

3. Jamie xx & Kosi Kos — Come We Go
One of the standout tracks on the recently released Pampa Records Volume 1, which is a superb compilation. Koze got Jamie xx to collaborate on a track (Kosi Kos is a Koze alias, makes sense), and it’s a beaut. Tunes for autobahns, for sure.

4. Rudy — Transformation
LOVE.

5. James Booth — am PM
James Booth makes some v chill music. Let this one guide you towards summertime.

6. Terr — Burn The Past
Listen to this on headphones, if you can. Yay for women producers. This is an alias of Daniela Caldellas from Brazil.

7. CharlestheFirst — The Descent
This guy has been one of my favorite discoveries of the past few months. He’s flying largely under the radar, but producing some top-notch beats. I love this guy’s creativity and this track shows it off. Make sure to peep his other stuff if you like this. I particularly like “Quiet Seeds.”

8. Gundelach — Fjernsynet (Fur Coat Remix)
Deeeeep. I’m loving all of the new Fur Coat stuff. The vocals in particular on this remix are mixed perfectly.

9. xxxy — Short Wave
It feels like the UK’s xxxy dropped off the face of the earth for a while there, but he’s back with a 4 track EP, and I’m digging the new sound.

10. Bwana — 4 Taylor Swift: Against The Clock
Bwana has been everywhere recently, and so has his sound: everything he’s been releasing in 2016 sounds different and that’s a good thing because it is all excellent. You can tell this guy has been spending all of his time in the studio, learning and experimenting and doing weird shit, and it’s paying off. He’s been releasing great stuff for years but he has really stepped it up the past few months and is getting some much deserved recognition for it. I am super into this song and it’s the perfect closer to wrap up this week’s playlist.

Tourist releases free torrent of new album, U

Tourist, one of my favorite producers, released his first full-length record, titled U, last week and it is divine. Even better, he is giving away a download for free via BitTorrent. I’m planning on copping the vinyl when it’s back in stock, so it’s nice that I can own it for free in the meantime.

Tourist is one of those artists where I’ve always felt starved for new material. I first heard of him via his track “Together” in 2013 and I still listen to it on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. His single, “Run,” off of the new album, is his best song since then, in my humble opinion, and the entire album is a delight. I’ve only listened to it twice so I don’t have much to say aside from that yet. You can listen here: