Features

The 50 Best Tracks of 2016…So Far

So far 2016 hasn’t delivered dance hits quite as large as, say, Lean On, but dig deep and you’ll find there’s plenty of good music being made right now. From maturing North American sounds to stellar local productions and plenty of European fire, the first six months of this year has given us house, techno, trap and beats-y delights by the bucketful. So grab your headphones, turn up the volume and catch up with the 50 best dance tracks of 2016…so far.


#50 Louis the Child – From Here

In 2016, OWSLA doesn’t just do bass bangers. Case in point is From Here, the feels-heavy, beats-driven tune from the label’s Worldwide Broadcast compilation. It comes from Louis the Child, AKA Chicago duo Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren, who are part of the new wave of artists changing the sound of North American dance music. From Here is only their second original, which means you can plant Louis the Child firmly on your artists-to-watch list. [Katie Cunningham]

#49 Recondite – Warg

German producer’s Recondite’s debut on Hotflush is a melodic techno weapon that’s built from the ground for a powerful impact. Warg goes for unrestrained epic vibes, with its high-pitched synths and menacing drops that rattle and thunder like the apocalypse. It made such an impression in his DJ sets that Recondite had to take to Facebook to ask overeager fans not to rip and share it prior to release, evidence enough Warg‘s packing some serious firepower. [Angus Paterson]

#48 Eric Prydz – Breathe ft. Rob Swire

While Eric Prydz’s long-awaited artist album contained perhaps a few more straightforward club bangers than you might have expected from a project he’d been talking about for a decade, OPUS came into its own with those transcendental, vocal-driven anthems.

With a little help courtesy of Rob Swire from Knife Party, he really nailed it on Breathe. Swire sounds like he’s trying to impersonate Bon Jovi, and the whole affair shamelessly channels the extravagance of 80s hair rock. Just like all true guilty pleasures, it’s every bit as terrible and wonderful as it sounds. [Angus Paterson]

#47 Ducky – Work

So far 2016 has been a big year for forward-thinking club sounds and few are doing it better than Ducky. The Los Angelean pushes the limits on her track Work, channelling Uffie vibes and proving that a 150 bpm is where it’s at. [Kristy Barker]

#46 Fracture & Deft – I Just

Legend of the UK’s 170bpm music scene Fracture teamed up with fast-rising star Deft to deliver a stellar track, perfectly capturing the leftfield sound which is becoming more and more popular in the drum & bass scene.

As always with Fracture, there are tonnes of rare samples and classic breaks all finely diced and re-combined into new, exciting patterns as well as killer bass growls which carry the groove. Deft’s personality shines through in the lush chords, chunky sub bass stabs, and schizophrenic percussion sequencing, which keeps I Just fresh throughout. Footwork-meets-half-time-meets-jungle at its best. [Andrew Wowk]

#45 RUFUS – Innerbloom (What So Not remix)

It’s gotta be a pretty daunting task for anyone, let alone a label mate and buddy like What So Not, to remix one of the finest moments on RUFUS’ massive album Bloom.

Unfazed and brave, What So Not’s take on the epic Innerbloom manages to stand proudly on its own thanks to producer Chris Emerson’s canny approach to remixing the 10 minute original. Isolating the mood of the source material in that chilled opening, WSN then reinterprets Innerbloom with a newfound tension. It’s a sweeping banger of sorts that’s faithful yet inventive, and one we’ll surely be playing for the rest of 2016. [Dave Ruby Howe]

#44 Vintage & Morelli – Contrasts

Contrasts first fluttered out across the speakers at last year’s Group Therapy gig at Madison Square Garden during the ‘warmup’ set from Above & Beyond, eventually revealing itself to be the Anjunabeats debut for Belgrade producer Vintage & Morelli. Hovering ambiguously in that gulf between house and trance, Contrasts is haunting, and the build-up to its powerful peak is mesmerising. Groove-driven progressive trance that gets it right. [Angus Paterson]

#43 Nina Las Vegas – Ezy

It’s been a healthy 2016 for Aussie linchpin Nina Las Vegas with a whole run of overseas shows under her belt, including the big deal of doing Coachella earlier in the year.

Meanwhile Nina’s NLV Records imprint has been catching fire with big releases from Swick and Strict Face, but we’re particularly keen to single out her own EZY as the pick of the bunch. This one struts out on a drumline snare, before NLV swerves into the oncoming traffic of a pounding beat and buzz of noise. [Dave Ruby Howe]

#42 Scraps – Touch Blue

Brissie producer Scraps does everything in the right measure on Touch Blue, easy-going as it meditates on a no-frills groove for close to seven minutes, never feeling undercooked or overdone. There’s noodling melody, a detached yet resonant vocal. It’s a gentle tractor beam, drawing you either to the dancefloor or towards introspection. Maybe a combination of both. A shiny opal from the Australian underground. [Lachlan Kanoniuk]

#41 Gold Panda – In My Car

As is the case with much of Gold Panda’s productions, In My Car is stuffed with so many musical ideas that it could all very easily go tits up. Instead, it flourishes, and therein lays Gold Panda’s adept programming skills: keeping all the madcap elements sounding so beautifully coherent. With its crisp hip-hop template, chopped-up vocal samples and shimmering synths, In My Car ’s magic lies in its power to conjure up wistful, long forgotten memories. [Henry Johnstone]

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