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 80

1. BlackGummy – Descent
The one and only mau5trap records has been consistently putting out massive releases of some of the darkest progressive techno you can find. Deadmau5 created a genre and his record label is curating that genre, finding some amazing musicians and showing their stuff to a wider audience. This track is dark and pulsing and heavy and makes me really want to go sweat in a nightclub.

2. SLUGGERS – 15 Hours
I’ve featured quite a few SLUGGERS tracks in S2D2 over the years. They know how to make a banger that’s for sure. They’ve got a knack for taking a well-known track or sample and making it into something completely different and completely awesome.

3. Culture Shock – Low Frequency
If you’re feeling a little groggy, this should do the trick! Classic drum n bass style – frenetic percussion, bursting with energy, and breakdowns that you just gotta move to.

4. Fritz Carlton & Ghostea – Creepin
Sometimes this song bores me and sometimes it gets me so hype. After going back and forth I decided that I love it. Just a fun, weird track.

5. Vessels – Are You Trending? (Darkline Mix)
Big fan of the original track and all of the remixes it’s inspired, and this is my favorite remix so far. The second half is completely different than the first — basically it’s a long buildup — and my god, the second half hits so hard.

6. Simian Mobile Disco – Far Away From A Distance
SMD always delivers. ALWAYS. This is a slow burner, deep, with a lot of synths layered and draped over each other resulting in a mesmerizing track.

7. Pale Blue – Acid Waves
Acid is back, btw, in case you’ve been living under a rock. Back with a vengeance. This year is definitely the year of techno, tech-house, and acid, and often all three at once. This is a v chill track, but that acid riff throughout keeps it grooving. Gorgeous.

8. Eagles & Butterflies – X
Really enjoying this. A straightforward track but the mud and static they threw over it really brings it home. A little rough around the edges on purpose, but otherwise very clean production! It’s an interesting contrast.

9. Patrick Bishop – Un (Tuff City Kids Remix)
I really love all the melodic stuff Tuff City Kids has been doing. Proof that you can make beautiful deep house that’s not cheesy whatsoever. Fresh af.

10. Dimitri Veimar – Rundo (Lauer Stobe Age Remix)
Another slow burner, this one’ll ease you off into dreamland, and then pick you up again and deposit you back home, ready to rage.