Six months in, 2014’s shaping up to be an excellent year for dance music. Producers at home and abroad have given us a huge catalogue of superb tracks to keep busy with, from festival-ready anthems to heads-down underground gear.
Picking 50 gems out of half a year’s worth of music is no mean feat, but that’s what we’ve set out to do. To take stock of the year so far, inthemix writers Angus Paterson, Andrew Wowk, Christopher Kevin Au, Dave Ruby Howe, Katie Cunningham, Krystal Rodriguez, Jack Tregoning, Jim Poe and Nick Jarvis picked their highlights of 2014, covering trance, techno, mainstage-EDM, deep house and many shades in-between.
Nicky Van She is back with a new moniker and a massive piano house banger to go with it, just in time for the Ibizan summer (where it’s been getting thoroughly thrashed). Everybody Together is tailor made for euphoric Balaeric outdoor vibes, with piano stabs and a hook straight out of the ‘90s – we dare you not to throw your hands up within the first ten seconds. [Nick Jarvis]
Spheres was the first release of the year for Anjunabeats, and it was a solid start to 2014 indeed. A record to rival Ilan Bluestone’s killer Sinai from 2013, Spheres is pretty much modern trance perfection. Beginning with an exciting twinkle of melody, before long it’s slammed into one of the heaviest basslines ever heard in a tune that’s also liable to make you put your hands in the air. Which is the key here; alongside all that electro grunt, Spheres comes packing a breakdown that’s euphoric enough to seduce even the most hardened trance hater. Primo mainroom power that’s impossible to fault. [Angus Paterson]
Anna Lunoe’s various productions have seen the Australian export go down a few different paths. Over the past 12-odd months, Lunoe’s given us the rave-happy Breathe, her new pop-leaning Ultra Records release All Out, and All Night, the joint cover with Treasure Fingers that came with just one Soundcloud tag: #house. But we like Anna best when the beat is simple and she’s channeling a Louisahhh-esque spoken word vibe, just as she does so well on Bass Drum Dealer. Wrap your ears around BDD and you’ll understand why Skrillex had to have it for his Nest label. [Katie Cunningham]
This year, homegrown star Alison Wonderland completed her transformation from She Can DJ-scouted mixing talent to polished producer with an EP to prove it. The lead single from her Calm Down EP was solid on its own, but when Jersey Club name DJ Hoodboi (or is it just Hoodboi now?) put his spin on things, I Want U went from a festival-ready banger to a tune better suited to the early hours comedown. With Hoodboi at the helm, that’s a good place to be. [Katie Cunningham]
After ten years of plying their electro-funk trade, Chromeo has finally cracked the mainstream US radio stations with this catchy, subversive pop-funk number that Dave 1 told inthemix is all about challenging, “the macho predatory norms most often used in pop…[it’s] about the impotence of a castrated repressed male; that was something new for a love song… The idea was to take those relationships and give them a new twist.” Ideology aside, Jealous is also what Chromeo does best: ridiculously catchy ‘80s electro-funk with self-aware, self-deprecating lyrics that take the ‘guilty’ out of its pleasure. [Nick Jarvis]
Parisian collective Point Point came out of nowhere three months ago with four members, a handful of snappy B&W press shots, and a few tunes on their SoundCloud, amongst which is this ‘Australian Sound-esque’ exercise in trap-lite beauty: heavy bass, pitched-up vocals and an elegantly simple refrain that’s racked up over 600,000 SoundCloud plays already. As one SoundCloud commenter over shared: “I feel like Jesus just jizzed on my face.” Experience that for yourself below. [Nick Jarvis]
Guy J intimated to inthemix before his June tour this year that Dizzy Moments was among his more personal musical efforts, inspired by difficult events around the sickness of a family member. Listening to the sadness and emotional grandeur of what’s possibly the most perfectly-realised record yet from the Israeli producer, that backstory’s not hard to believe. Beginning on a note of stripped-back techno, it blossoms into one of the most luxurious melodies ever heard in a progressive house tune. [Angus Paterson]
Andy Butler’s back with the third outing on his mission to legitimise disco music, led by first single I Try To Talk To You, this time with the vocal talents of alt-rock legend John Grand, who uses his beautiful baritone to relay the (autobiographical) story of a man telling a former lover that he’s HIV positive. Heavy subject matter, but with a dramatic disco-backing that Giorgio Moroder would be proud of. Underground house champion Seth Troxler uses a gentle touch in his remix, stretching out the hypnotic beat and giving the track time to build towards and ebb away from its choir and strings crescendo. [Nick Jarvis]
We dubbed him one of the top ten local producers to watch this year, and Sydney local Lance Gurisik has more than delivered, following up the deep house future-classic Givin’ It Up with this slice of beauty. Sydney soul singer Ngaiire lends her considerable vocal talents to a classic deep house template: body-moving house with lyrics that tell a story. “No romance without finance…got to have a J.O.B if you want to be with me,” Ngaiire sings. If the lyrics come from personal experience, then Lancelot’s lovers won’t need to worry for too much longer. [Nick Jarvis]
The Australian electronic scene has become pretty rife with bromances recently and you can notch up another with the inspired pairing of Future Classic big dog L D R U and Ulladulla’s finest beatmaker Yahtzel.
Like a banger-making Riggs and Murtaugh, the two seem to bring out the best in each other – particularly Yahtzel’s knack for bright tropical rainforest sounds that here is mushed with the thumping drops that have made L D R U so well-loved locally. It’s remarkably well balanced in that it’d sit easily in either dudes’ set. At the end of the day it’s exactly what you’d expect from a meeting of these two swarthy local producers, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a hugely enjoyable hit. [Dave Ruby Howe]
The man with the sexiest basslines in house music is aiming for the charts with this instant ear worm. Following up attention-grabbers like last year’s booty-house edit of Gas Pedal and his remix of the Madison Avenue classic Don’t Call Me Baby, this time around the Adelaide producer has added to the ever-growing canon of modern piano house. If you had any doubt that the classic house sound is back with a vengeance then look no further; and between Motez, Lancelot, Nicky Night Time and Beni, Australia’s pretty much leading the charge right now. [Nick Jarvis]
After plenty of success in her home country, nomadic Swedish singer Elliphant blazed onto the international stage within the first minute of April’s fiery Revolusion. Much like the EP that it comes from (that’d be the Look Like You Love It release through Mad Decent featuring the likes of Skrillex and Diplo) Revolusion is overflowing with rafts of blaring noise and foreign sounds that pile one atop the other through the song’s three-ish minutes.
The tipping point is Elliphant herself as a vocalist, performer and riotous firebrand; her unshakable presence just drips with attitude and somehow manages to scale above the busy production. You couldn’t accuse Elliphant of not being loud enough, but damn it if you’d take her any other way after hearing this.[Dave Ruby Howe]
In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, a suite of new remixes emerged for Beyonce’s amorous anthem Drunk In Love. While The Weeknd turned heads with his slow-burning version, and Kanye West added a questionable new verse, dance fans went straight for the handiwork of Diplo.
The Mad Decent boss has a proven track record for shapeshifting remixes, whether it’s an assignment for Psy, Sleigh Bells or Grizzly Bear. His take on Beyonce – re-imagined as Drunk N Luv – gives the trap-referencing tune a thorough dancefloor reworking, adding some serious bass and rave horns (and a particular emphasis on the immortal “surfbort” line). You can be sure this one has soundtracked many a house party since it dropped. [Jack Tregoning]
Louisahhh described Maelstrom to inthemix as her “musical soulmate,” so it’s no surprise the pair made magic together on Night Clubbing. It’s not their first time producing side-by-side – that was the Playmode cover Make It Happen from late last year, also great – but this is their first original creation together and that’s something special. Night Clubbing is Bromance doing what Bromance do best: dark and tripped-out techno destined for the hours between 3am and sunrise, when you couldn’t possibly be anywhere but out. [Katie Cunningham]
When two of our favourite Scandinavian acts finally sat down to write a proper mini-album together, the results were always going to be great, but Robyn’s indie-pop attitude and Royksopp’s studio smarts have reached their combined catchy peak in Do It Again.
They’re calling it “their accidental pop song,” an ode to a lost night on the tiles “inspired by a night out in Bergen,” and it’s already been remixed seven times by everyone from dance legend Moby to debauched Italian disco duo In Flagranti and prog-house producer Deniz Koyu, but we’re plumping for the original’s catchy goodness. [Nick Jarvis]
Like so many other veteran indie-dance acts from Cut Copy to Four Tet, DFA stalwart John Maclean has lately picked up the tempo and pumped up the energy by mining the big-club sounds of the ‘90s. No wonder; it was a time when dance music seemed revolutionary and it was possible to hear the same records on the radio and at raves in dirty warehouses.
Get Down With My Love is big and bright, milking peak-time power out of thumping percussion, trippy echoes, ecstatic “feelin’ in love” happy-house diva stabs and Nancy Whang’s hypnotizin’ vocal. It’s still got enough of Maclean’s clever post-rock sensibility to remind you it’s not some lost bootleg from Junior Boys Own or Azuli, but when you play it at 3:30 on Sunday morning the difference won’t matter. [Jim Poe]
If the “Australian Sound” is characterised by surf video-worthy chill vibes and colourful trap production, then the emergence of Sydney producer Golden Features provided the movement with a neat counterpoint. Let off the chain on an unsuspecting public as part of a free self-titled EP in February, Golden Features’ calling-card hit Tell Me shook the cage hard enough to amass a few hundred thousand plays and some overnight attention from around the world.
The mystique around the identity of Golden Features didn’t hinder the project’s appeal at the start; curious listeners stuck around for the thick, pulsating and dark house music on Tell Me. With a floaty vocal lead from feature-artist in-demand Nicole Millar (see her pairings with Peking Duk, Cosmo’s Midnight and Emoh Instead) the track has an unmistakable mean-streak to it with the thudding bass and whirring alien synth noises. [Dave Ruby Howe]
Jessie Andrews’ Twitter bio describes her in just two words: “Modern woman.” It’s a pithy description for a lady with plenty of irons in the fire: yes, she’s an adult actress, but she’s also a model, jewellery designer, mix series curator, DJ and producer. A good one, too – You Won’t Forget Tonight with Comets We Fall is a great piece of music from an artist who’ll gladly go on record about loving “any kind of house music.” Want more? Andrews teamed up with Fei Fei to remix the Blood Orange track You’re Not Good Enough earlier this year and it’s another must-listen. [Katie Cunningham]
Sydney solo producer Wave Racer cracked it big in 2013 with a series of hyperactive, video game inspired originals, and has since spent time consolidating his rising star status with a string of A grade, 1000% all killer remixes for the likes of Ryan Hemsworth, Panama and Flight Facilities. The cherry on top comes with Wavey’s just bowed remix of Foster The People’s indie-pop jam Best Friend, which has been so difficult to dislodge from between the ears that it’s snuck into this list ahead of the producer’s sole original for the year, Streamers.
This remix just radiates deliriously happy vibes. Seriously, mad props to whoever A&R’d this one because Wave Racer’s rainbow-like production tricks are the perfect match for the sweet toothed pop hooks of a band like Foster The People. I mean, you gave him a children’s choir to work with, of course this is going to be great! [Dave Ruby Howe]
Parisian Fools Gold and OWSLA-affiliate Tchami deals in fresh-sounding, bass-driven futuristic house music, as best exemplified by Untrue, this delicious slice of deep, echoey, atmospheric house with a dancefloor-moving riff that kicks in halfway through. He’s just finished up supporting Skrillex on his US Mothership Tour, one of the Frenchman’s first forays into the States, so it’s a safe bet that Untrue is just Tchami getting started this year. [Nick Jarvis]
Irrepressible bass enthusiast Sonny Moore surprised many with his debut LP this year, which swings from the dancefloor-crushing wobbles and laser stabs we know and love of tracks like Try It Out to the wonky, Mr Oizo and Madlib flavoured Doompy Poomp.
But for his album’s title track, Skrillex went all-out: as we said in our review earlier this year, “It all starts out as a hip hop party, then Fatman Scoop shows up and the next thing you know we’re in the throes of a Skrillex throw-down, as the lasers are set to stun, the bass shakes the pit of your stomach, and the singing angels pop up now and then to remind us to ‘Fight until we can’t fight’. In short: mental.” [Nick Jarvis]
Recreating old funk and disco is getting kind of played out; today’s producers have moved on and are starting to cannibalize more recent electronic forms (hardcore, drum & bass, UK garage) that don’t seem so outdated to us older heads and were pretty cannibalistic to begin with. Electronic music is starting to fold in on itself in a thrilling way.
The Bicep boys have made a name for themselves with their cheeky pastiches of the club and warehouse sounds of yesteryear; this one takes it to a more subtle and insidious place. It contains a nod to ‘80s hi-NRG in its title and its Euro-sleazy bassline; but more obviously pays tribute to early-’90s Belgian hardcore with its rolling 909 drumkit, Gothic synths and eerie vocal stabs. There’s timeless dancefloor destruction lurking behind those six unassuming characters. [Jim Poe]
San Franciscan electronica producer Tycho released his fourth studio album Awake – a nine track journey into where shoegaze, IDM and post-rock meet – earlier in the year on genre-bending label Ghostly International, winning over fans and critics alike with a piece of work that simultaneously stayed true to his melodic, emotive sound while also pushing it into new, exciting territories.
See, the first single from the album, combines up-tempo, driving drum loops and a gritty live bass guitar with sparkly synths, uplifting plucked strings and flickers of electric guitar improvisation to create a warm, emotive and powerful journey. From its opening moments, where just a simple live clap and subtle guitar loop grab your attention, to its final triumphant explosion of boisterous melodies (which is just short of being completely overwhelming), See is a ride that you’ll want to take over and over. [Andrew Wowk]
At the end of last year, a founding member of LA beatmaking collective Wedidit did a remix for rising R&B talent Jeremih; the singer liked it so much they decided to do a full EP together, and in February the pair delivered their first taste, the future-RNB slow-burner No More. Happily, it was worth the short wait: Shlohmo’s late night, chopped-and-screwed production growls and ticks while Jeremih emotes like The Weeknd over the top; on the basis of this track, their forthcoming EP could be one of the best things to come out this year. [Nick Jarvis]
When Deadmau5 announced his new album would be 25 tracks long, the epic length came as no surprise to his diehard followers. Not only is the producer’s industrious work ethic widely known, countless live streams have verified the number of hours he spends at work in the studio.
The While (1 tracklist, then, is a testament to a guy who can’t stop creating. One of the works-in-progress that ‘mau5 fans have watched come together is Phantoms Can’t Hang, which arrived buffed-and-polished on the new LP. At nine minutes long, it’s the producer in driving, progressive mode; building tension simmering down for a melodic middle section, before the whole thing swells again in its final stretch. On an album this expansive, Phantoms Can’t Hang is a perfect distillation of what Deadmau5 can do. [Jack Tregoning]
On their own, Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL have always been good at what they do. Together, they’re unstoppable. The two founders of Body High – the cooler-than-you L.A. label home to the likes of DJ Sliink and Jim-E Stack – joined forces this year to become DJ Dodger Stadium, a project every bit as rooted in the pair’s home city as the name would suggest.
They’re only two tracks deep so far, but both of them have been masterpiece-level – first they gave us the steadily-building Love Songs, then hit us with Never Win. The full DJ Dodger Stadium album arrives July 8 and needless to say, we can’t wait. [Katie Cunningham]
Cory Enemy might not have the profile of his manager and longtime ally Destructo just yet, but if Go Deeper is any indication, Gary Richards surely has a future star on his hands. Far from the mainstage EDM you might associate with the US, Go Deeper is house at its most compelling; smart, polished and a million miles from this. You may as well go ahead and add Cory Enemy to your list of L.A. producers reinventing America’s musical reputation right now. [Katie Cunningham]
In a year when the so-dubbed “Australian sound” has been dominating local output, Canberra-bred Peking Duk have proven there’s still an appetite for dance music at its commercial best. A big one, at that: High has been at the top of the ARIA Club Charts since it came out and at the tail end of June, the single went double platinum.
There’s something to be said for the skill that goes into crafting a piece of music so universally appealing and true to that, High succeeds because it’s just plain undeniable. Peking Duk and their powerhouse vocalist Nicole Millar deserve every bit of airplay they get with this one, and we’d wager they’ll see plenty more yet. [Katie Cunningham]
With each release, London’s Darren J Cunningham worms his way into the pantheon with Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada and other masters of electronic sound manipulation. His stuff is often so dark and brutally minimalist it makes Burial sound mainstream (unless he is Burial – oh, never mind), but it’s not just noise. There’s soul and melody buried in the mix – there are degrees of separation with, say, Theo Parrish – but it’s soul at the edge of the solar system, soul on a haunted space station.
On Gaze the soul and the groove is a little more upfront – the more adventurous DJ could work it into a set if she doesn’t mind a jagged blast of loopy distorted funk that’ll make any other record sound safe. [Jim Poe]
Sydney trio Movement recently supported Darkside on their Australian tour and are currently on a mission to take over the UK; on the strength of their delightfully nocturnal and moody self-titled EP – four tracks of seductive RNB-influenced electronica that dropped in May – they’ve got a damn good chance. Baby-maker Like Lust is the pick of the quartet: the most emotional and atmospheric ode to a booty call you’ll ever hear. [Nick Jarvis]
When Flume and Lorde began conversing about a possible collaboration over social media in August of last year, fans were quick to set the blogosphere ablaze with rumours of what would result from this forever-screengrabbed Twitter exchange.
Back then, Flume was still riding high from the limitless success of his self-titled album and a sold-out ‘Infinity Prism’ tour, while Lorde was gearing up for the release of her chart-storming debut Pure Heroine. Both artists had also just performed at Splendour In The Grass: Flume delivered both a rampaging headline solo set and one under the What So Not banner, while Lorde filled the shoes of Frank Ocean with captivating success.
Fast-forward to April 2014, and the Tennis Court remix detonated with enough impact to blast both names back into the headlines. The trans-Tasman effort samples Lorde’s vocals gracefully before a drop that comes with bucketloads of urban bounce and lush, choppy synths. [Christopher Kevin Au]
Just when you thought AlunaGeorge’s debut album had done its dash, they drop Body Talk: Remixed, 12 edits of the London duo’s originals from some of the best remixers in dance music.
We’d heard some of the inclusions before, like Baauer’s rework of Attracting Flies, but London producer Applebottom’s remix of Bad Idea was brand new and enough to have you stuck on AlunaGeorge all over again (not to mention hitting the ‘follow’ button on Applebottom’s SoundCloud page.) Laptop speakers won’t do this one justice, be sure to listen with headphones. [Katie Cunningham]
“I’m amazed to see an underground record end up where it has,” Chicago-born, London-based producer Rowan Harrington marvelled after his breakout single as Secondcity raced up the UK charts in May. “I never anticipated it, which makes it even better.”
Thanks to the likes of Disclosure, Route 94 and Duke Dumont, the UK charts have been visited by a very different groove in the past year. Secondcity’s success story continues the trend. However you feel about the current wave of throwback house, it’s hard to resist the pull of I Wanna Feel. From the taut bassline to those warm diva vocals, it’s a consummate summer jam. With a new EP, Groove ‘N’ On, swiftly following his chart-climber, it seems Secondcity is only just warming up. [Jack Tregoning]
No Distance brings together the talents of two acts, Guy Gerber and Dixon, who are always on the move. The track made an appearance in the Essential Mixes of both DJs last year, which coincidentally aired within weeks of each other.
Its official release as the first single on Gerber’s Rumors label was validated by Pete Tong, who made it his ‘Essential New Tune’ for that week. With No Distance, Dixon and Gerber have found a warm middle ground between their sounds. A pensive, rolling bassline sets the mood, before the pair work in building layers of sound. The result is somehow both cinematic and club-ready. If you’re looking for those tingly dancefloor moments, just follow the groove of No Distance. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Brooklyn-based experimentalist Jeremy Malvin, AKA Chrome Sparks, had his EP Goddess picked up by Future Classic, which gives you a reliable idea of its contents: intelligent, emotional electronica that kicks off with The Meaning Of Love, a six-minute journey into blissful synths and intricate melodies that betray his classical training. [Nick Jarvis]
We first heard Party Up all the way back in March, when it was soundtracking the envy-inducing Holy Ship! recap video. Three long months later, with nothing but a 90-second preview to tide us over in the interim, the full thing finally arrived. So it’s a good thing the wait was worth it.
As Destructo, HARD Events ringleader Gary Richards chooses his releases very carefully – we can count his previous singles on one hand – so you can bet every track that does make it out will be his house-meets-bass sound at its best. Between Destructo’s beat and the hedonistic narration from fast-rising rapper YG, Party Up is another hit of Gary Richards gold. [Katie Cunningham]
How do you follow a single like Turn Down For What, which went platinum in the US, gold in various other corners of the world and became one of the most thoroughly rinsed tracks of 2013? You team up with one of the hottest names in dance music right now and go to work on another anthem.
DJ Snake and Dillon Francis sure hit it out of the park with Get Low, giving us a brand new dancefloor call to arms with an irresistibly fun beat to match. And just when you thought you couldn’t love the song anymore, out comes the video. [Katie Cunningham]
For most of their career, Zeds Dead have been synonymous with thumping bass tracks. So when they teased their collaboration with Twin Shadow – sending a snippet of the track to anyone who responded to their Craiglist personal ad, as you do – they certainly turned heads. Screeching breakdowns were out, toe-tapping house was in. Lost You was the update in sound Zeds Dead needed to have and better yet, it was just the first taste of a whole new EP. The Somewhere Else EP dropped on July 1, complete with a whole string of new collaborations to enjoy. [Katie Cunningham]
This time last year, none of us had heard the name Zhu. Now, he – or is it a she? – is one of the hottest new producers to come out of 2014, even if we don’t know exactly who the mystery identity is. Everything to hit Zhu’s Soundcloud page, from The Nightday EP to the remixes for Lana Del Rey and London Grammar, has been uniformly excellent. But it’s Zhu’s lead single Faded that’s stuck out the most, ever since Pete Tong gave it his Essential New Tune seal of approval. The Odesza remix is a must-hear too. [Katie Cunningham]
In less than a year, Galantis has skyrocketed from intriguing team-up (Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow and Linus ‘Style Of Eye’ Eklöw) to the real deal. Propelled into the limelight with last year’s Smile, the duo impressed the likes of Kaskade, Pete Tong and Diplo, before claiming a slot on the coveted Coachella stage.
With You, Karlsson and Eklöw proved the galvanising effect of Smile was no fluke. As the Northern festival season accelerates, you can expect to hear the signature Galantis euphoria featured in big-room-geared DJ sets everywhere.
Buoyant right from its first moments, You is anthemic without being obvious; sweet without being sickly. The single has spawned a package of remixes from the likes of Tom Staar, Tiesto vs. Twoloud and Brillz, but the original’s still where it’s at. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Here we were, ready to rank Sad Machine in our list of 2014’s standout tracks. Then Porter Robinson delivers the video for Lionhearted (complete with that all-important 320kbps audio) and brings the third single from his forthcoming album to life. We’re still not entirely sure which track we like better – and you wouldn’t want to forget Porter’s agenda-setting Sea of Voices either – but we are very, very certain that Worlds is going to be one of the releases of the year. With singles this bang-on, how could it not be? [Katie Cunningham]
When you name a track after the DeLorean, which was a symbol of ‘80s excess even before 1985’s Back to the Future, you are telling us you don’t care if we judge you for your ridiculously nostalgic leanings. Or maybe you’re Norwegian and your sense of humour is a little different. Could go either way with the mighty Todd Terje, whose recently released debut album is an unabashed (and brilliant) tribute to the arpeggiated awesomeness of early-’80s Balearic and Eurodisco at a time when many other producers have moved on to rehash the ‘90s.
Terje has enough talent and musicianship to keep it from being a mere retro exercise though; this tune is quite epic and you’ll stop analysing its influences when you’re dancing to it at the end of a long night – or drinking in a hot tub to it the next morning. [Jim Poe]
When it comes to bumpy, quirky, low-down, bass-driven house, Dirtybird are the original and the best. The Parisian producer Shiba San’s debut release on the label, Okay, has blown up dancefloors for the last six months and even stayed at Number 1 on the Beatport House Chart for three consecutive months.
It won’t win any awards for breaking boundaries or experimenting with convention, but when it’s this effective and this much fun, who really cares? Lead by a bouncy sub-bass loop which is equal parts funk and chunk, Okay adds layers of warped vocal stabs, TR-808 percussive grooves, a charming bell-chime lead and swirling pads as it progresses, holding your attention despite its fairly simple premise. [Andrew Wowk]
The first time we heard í‚me’s Turn Around remix, it was in the form of a SoundCloud rip from Mexico’s BPM festival all the way back in January. Since then, Dixon, Solomun, Mano Le Tough, Maceo Plex and friends have all had Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer’s handiwork on high rotation, with the remix poised to become one of the biggest tracks of the Northern summer. Then this week – finally – Life and Death rewarded our patience and released the Sailor & I EP. Beatport’s this way, if you’re looking for it. [Katie Cunningham]
Just a few months ago, Swedish titan Eric Prydz released his latest single, Liberate, which inevitably blossomed into a bona-fide summer anthem. (It’s also given us another good reason – not that one was needed – to be hyped for that artist album.)
The progressive builder has been a crowd-pleasing staple in Prydz’s many powerhouse sets, starting with his scorching performance at Ultra Music Festival earlier this year. Named Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’ on its release, Liberate is signature Prydz, with a euphoric, big-room design geared toward massive crowds. We’re already imagining how it’ll go down when that first hint of Liberate is heard at New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden for the worldwide unveiling of EPIC 3.0 in September. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Seekae seem to be on a mission to one-up themselves with every release. Their first album, The Sound Of Trees Falling on People, felt like nothing else around when it came out in 2008. The second, 2011’s near-flawless +Dome, got the trio the international attention they deserved. Now they’re getting ready to drop album number three and the first single to come from it, Test & Recognise, could very well be their finest moment yet (or it’s got to be at least equal with Void).
It’s only the second time Seekae have put percussionist Alex Cameron on vocals – the first, Another, was one our picks of 2013 – though his monotone is so sublimely sad you’ve got to wonder why it took them so long to put him in front of a mic. But it’s the build that really makes Test & Recognise, rising ever-so-slightly that it’ll give you full body shivers before the three minute mark. Whether or not that FCL100 stamp was a coincidence, Future Classic’s milestone hundredth release couldn’t have gone to a better track. [Katie Cunningham]
Back in December last year, inthemix hosted L.A.’s HARD crew in Sydney for one very rowdy house party in between the Stereosonic weekends. We rented a waterfront mansion, rounded up 30 competition winners, and handed the decks over to Destructo and friends.
Late in the night, What So Not and RL Grime rolled up for a tag-team set, revealing on the mic that they’d just finished a new collaboration. Needless to say, its name was Tell Me, and needless to say, it blew up the living room dancefloor.
Since then, the trap dream team has watched its creation light up clubs and festivals everywhere. (Not to mention those 3.8 million plays on SoundCloud.) It was one of the most-rinsed tracks at Ultra’s bass stage. It went large at Coachella. Skrillex just dropped it for a gargantuan crowd at Glastonbury. And on it goes. [Jack Tregoning]
Since the release of his Gotham EP last year, Ten Walls – Mario Basanov’s dark, heavier alter-ego – has found his music in countless DJs’ sets. His latest tune, Walking With Elephants, is gearing up to be one of 2014’s biggest tracks – case in point: it was just recently found to be the most-Shazamed track over in Ibiza so far this summer.
But the anticipation for the single started long before that, with tireless tastemaker Pete Tong predicting its success back in March during Miami Music Week. “It was the underground anthem at BPM this year,” he told Miami New Times. “Dark, naughty, and addictive, like Heath Ledger’s Joker.”
Tong’s endorsement pretty much nails it. Walking With Elephants reels you in with that swelling, melancholic first minute, before rich horns and snares signal the arrival of a true late-night behemoth. [Krystal Rodriguez]
When he unveiled All Under One Roof Raving, Jamie xx explained that the track was the homesick product of another year on the road, “missing life in London.” The UK reference point would have been hard to miss; over six minutes, The xx mastermind dunks us headfirst into the English dance scene of the ‘90s.
Littered with samples from vintage clubbing documentary Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore – a 15 minute glimpse into what clubbing in the UK used to be and “what it feels like to be inside a nightclub, when being inside a nightclub is the most important thing in your life” – All Under One Roof Raving is a defiantly British tribute to an era in rave history that many of today’s dance fans probably wish they were around for. Just like Four Tet, Burial and Zomby before him, 20-something Jamie Smith might not have been present for what was going on in ‘92, but he was certainly inspired by it.
There’s no doubt the track would be a nostalgic trip for those who lived for the weekend in the years after Thatcher’s reign, decked in “Fila, Head, Kappa, Ellesse, Lonsdale, Lacoste and Lee” and ready to fly the flag for hard house, or jungle, or whatever. But All Under One Roof Raving isn’t only appealing to the ravers it pays homage to, it’s transporting listeners who were still in nappies circa Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore to a time and place they’ve never experienced firsthand. It’s a rare piece of music that can so effectively evoke a 360-sense of setting, and that’s what makes this one of the best tracks of the year. [Katie Cunningham]
Early in June Canadian polymath Dan Snaith returned with his first track under the Caribou alias in four years, the spectacular Can’t Do Without You, a first taste from his forthcoming LP Our Love.
Snaith’s early work as Caribou (like 2005’s The Milk of Human Kindness) tended in the direction of experimental, glitchy folktronica; in 2010 he found a house-driven groove with the spectacular SWIM, one of that year’s greatest albums, which brought together beat-driven melancholic songwriting (like Found Out) with complex, catchy tropical house (like opening track Odessa). On Can’t Do Without You, Snaith continues his journey into the history of house music, with a vocal hook straight from early Chicago house looped over a steadily swelling panoply of sound. It’s classic Caribou: both densely layered and also instantly catchy.
As Snaith said of his last release, under the Daphni alias in 2012, “There is a small world where dance music lives up to its potential to liberate, surprise, and innovate.” Can’t Do Without You does all the above, which is why we’ve awarded it our favourite track of the year so far. [Nick Jarvis]