It’s been a decade, and we’re ready to call it: 2007 was the best year ever.
Just look at the evidence: Uffie was the coolest girl in the world, Kanye wore shutter shades, the Cobra Snake shot every party worth attending, your MySpace page was still active, Hipster Runoff was king of the blogs and you could still buy two-for-one Jägerbombs. The phones were flip, the t-shirts were Deep V and the MP3s were 128kbps, if you were lucky.
For dance music, it’s hard to think of another year that holds a torch to 2007. This was the time when bloghaus, indie-dance and French electro all converged. Justice released Cross, Ed Banger was at its peak, Boys Noize was working overtime on remixes and homegrown electro kings The Presets, Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts ran the local scene.
So to tip a hat to the greatest year of all time, DAVE RUBY HOWE (who, like any scenester worth his salt, was busy running a blog at the time) picked out 20 of 2007’s most unforgettable tracks. You probably heard them all playing over the speakers of American Apparel (RIP) a decade ago.
It only makes sense that when super-producers Sam La More and GT got together, they made hits of the highest order. Laying down shreds of distortion with some genuine club muscle, Where The Party’s At went hard from the start and stayed that way. A not-at-all secret weapon for the mainroom electro DJs of Australia.
Frenchman Sebastien Tellier arrived back on the scene in 2007 with this gem, the first taste of his album Sexuality. And there’s one man to thank for his embrace of electronica on the LP: Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who served as the record’s producer. Sexual Sportswear swirls elegantly about the place, coming off like a funkier A Clockwork Orange theme, which is fitting as its sprawling, woozy quality is positively Kubrick-ian.
While 2007 saw releases from the biggest guns of electro – Justice, Digitalism, Cut Copy – one of the most peculiar artefacts of that time can be found in Muscles and his fantastically odd hit Ice Cream. His career didn’t exactly soar in the years that followed, but in ’07 Muscles was backed by Bang Gang and Modular, a festival regular thanks to his album Guns Babes Lemonade and the man of the minute for busted beats, sugar-coated synthesisers and vocal yelps. Listening back now, the dude almost sounds ahead of his time.
While large portions of the electronic community was caught up with distortion at the time, 2007 also saw the emergence of two New Yorkers keen on carrying the disco torch. Released on James Murphy’s iconic DFA imprint, Hold On introduced the Holy Ghost! duo in glorious style with crisp hi-hats atop a tasty analog groove.
Before he modelled undies for Emporio Armani, before he dated a certain blonde pop singer and before he made so many squillions of dollars a year, Calvin Harris was but a relatively successful Scottish artist with a knack for crafting bright hooky dance tunes.
By 2007 he’d already released his debut album I Created Disco, but more interesting – and a forecast for the chart-topping collabs ahead of him – was Harris’ work on Kylie Minogue’s X album. Just try and resist In My Arms! It’s irrepressible and alive with a buzzing energy and Calvin Harris’ synth-fluence.
While Chromeo’s electronic contemporaries at the time were mining disco or distorted French sounds for inspiration, the Canadian twosome had been studying at the temple of plasticine electrofunk circa the mid ’80s – think Robert Palmer, Hall & Oates, Rockwell. Squiggly synth lines, liberal doses of talkbox and crisp drum machines typify their Fancy Footwork LP and its title track packs a groove so good it’ll have you mastering the two step, as per Chromeo’s request.
In 2007 Boys Noize was your go-to producer to add some grit and heaviness to any remix. The German don applied that gift to commissions from the likes of Justice, Teenage Bad Girl and even Marilyn Manson in that year, as well as a fabled remix for Canada’s Feist with My Moon My Man. Boys Noize flips the original 180 degrees, taking fragments of the jaunty original and twisting them into the cold, cooing laments of a malfunctioning robot.
It’s been ten years, but you wouldn’t believe how damn hyped we all were for the first full length album from Midnight Juggernauts. And when the Sydney trio dropped Into The Galaxy, it crystallised a particular moment in Australian music where live indie bands melded perfectly with electronic music. That sound didn’t stick around and Midnight Juggernauts went in a less accessible direction after this record, but damn it was good while it lasted.
Shit, you couldn’t make a list about 2007 without including some gear from Ed Banger star SebastiAn or UK boys Klaxons. Serendipitously, here’s a track with them both! The Frenchman adds his trademark chops and twists to Golden Skans, adding some formidable muscle to the new rave upstarts. Lol, new rave.
If the 2007 version of you was looking for a middle ground between the occasionally quirky sensibilities of Hot Chip and the rounded production muscle of The Chemical Brothers, then you’d have been hard pressed to find a better offering than Simian Mobile Disco’s debut LP Attack Decay Sustain Release.
As well as giving us tasty singles like It’s The Beat and I Believe, the album yielded one of the UK duo’s defining tracks, Hustler. Built upon a skronky acid line, Hustler builds with quiet intensity for its first two and a half minutes before the SMD team drill their late night thumper all the way home.
Trust one half of Daft Punk to transform an overlooked album sketch from DJ Mehdi’s Lucky Boy LP into a certified cult classic. Continuing with the mechanical simplicity of Human After All, Thomas Bangalter takes the original minute-long track and works it over with destructive minimalism. More drums, more crunch, more drama. And it works. It works so freaking well.
I’ll admit that it’s has been a while since I gave New Young Pony Club much thought. The British band haven’t made much of an impact since Ice Cream, but it was on a recent trip to a suburban Target, of all places, where I heard this song again and was reminded just how damn good it was. A compact and bouncy groove, “angular” guitar stabs and frosty vocals made this a killer crossover tune that was equally at home on the dancefloor as it was in an indie club.
While the Australian scene was in robust shape during 2007, the overseas market was dominated by two French powerhouse labels in Ed Banger and Kitsune. Each imprint had marquee act of their own, with Justice spearheading Ed Banger’s rise up the ranks and Germany Digitalism becoming Kitsune’s trump card.
While we’re compelled to dramatise history into sides like the Blur vs Oasis feud of the Brit-Pop years, there was no bad blood in the electro arms race, just a whole lot of excellent music. Digitalism delivered a biggie with their Idealism LP and with its hissing hi-hats and extremely shout-able ‘woah oh’s, the distinctly rock influenced single Pogo destroyed more than a few indie dancefloors in its time.
With the eyes and ears of the world turning to Australia’s rising indie-dance scene in 2007, Melbourne maestros Cut Copy stepped up in a big way as leaders of the pack with Hearts On Fire. Coming as the first new music since the release of the band’s 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love, this enduring favourite showed the first signs of Cutters’ forthcoming ascendance, mixing the band’s polish as a live unit and Dan Whitford’s studio trickery.
If you ran an MP3 blog in the mid ‘00s then you knew that a new Soulwax remix was like solid gold. If you trawled Hype Machine or lurked on the Erol Alkan forum during that time, then you waited impatiently on every new remix, edit and bootleg the Belgian brothers released.
While Soulwax remixes of The Gossip and Klaxons get more fanfare, it’s this take on Get Innocuous by LCD Soundsystem that ranks as one of their most perfect remixes. Here Soulwax keep the original skeleton of Sound Of Silver’s opening track but pile on the beefcake powder until each mutating arpeggio loop seems to shake the ground beneath your feet with distortion.
Check the dance music history books and the superstar names of the French house movement read like so: Daft Punk, Alan Braxe & Fred Falke, DJ Falcon, Cassius, Etienne de Crecy. How does a new producer break into those glittering ranks?
Fellow Frenchman Lifelike started off right with Discopolis with Kris Menace, but managed to reach hitherto unexplored heights of euphoria on So Electric. From the swirling filter wash on the synths right down to the chopped vocal sample that rings out triumphantly at the end, it’s a dazzlingly executed blueprint of the French touch sound.
Pnau have a knack for popping up during key eras of Australian electronic music – from their watershed release Sambanova to their recent comeback with Chameleon – and true to form they snuck in their self titled third album at the tail end of 2007, as the local scene approached its zenith. While that record’s known for tracks like Wild Strawberries and With You Forever, the album’s underrated crown jewel remains Embrace. Featuring Ladyhawke on vocal duties, Embrace accelerates the heartbeat with a chorus equal parts clean and powerful.
You weren’t in the scene in 2007 if you didn’t know about Justice. The French duo were the poster-children of the electro movement, spearheading the French/Ed Banger sound, and they felt like the second coming of Daft Punk thanks to massive singles like Waters Of Nazareth and Phantom Pt. I.
Now it was the rest of the world’s turn to hear ’em, and that’s exactly what happened when the French pair dropped D.A.N.C.E.. The lead single off Justice’s debut album Cross still gets me giddy today, with that gurgling bassline, disco strings and children’s choir all coming together so perfectly. And extra props for the So-Me clip which essentially foreshadowed the rise of the lyric video.
Arular introduced her as an agent provocateur, but Kala ushered M.I.A. into the mainstream. The album’s big moment, Paper Planes – produced with then-regular collaborator Diplo – is still the ultimate feel-chill anthem, the song to blast when it’s payday and you’ve got the windows down. Don’t let the instant ubiquity of this song dampen how you feel about it nearly ten years later.
Nobody owned the Australian dance scene from 2004 to 2009 like The Presets. We got a first taste of their instant classic Apocalypso in the closing moments of 2007 with lead single My People, and it hit like a brick. At the time it was penned as The Presets’ voice of support for detained asylum seekers and in today’s turbulent political climate, My People seems to be just as vital as it was in 2007.
Dave Ruby Howe is a writer, broadcaster and music director of Australia’s largest independent music discovery platform. You can find him on Twitter.