Sorry, no M83 here. If I wanted to review pretentious musicians who tried too hard I would have just asked Jason Kushner for some of his CD’s. As a DJ who finds himself most at home at weekend basement raves and bro bars, I have a bit of a bias in my list. However, this fact does not deter from my musical tastes as most would believe. Therefore, without further ado, I present you with my top ten albums/singles/producers/mixtapes for the year.
10)Death Grips – Ex Military Tape
This is quite the intense listen if you are not prepared beforehand. My favorite track happens to sample Black Flag’s classic “Rise Above”. That should be enough to catch your attention. Another favorite is the track “Guillotine” which has a hypnotic hook that will keep your head bobbing. Definitely worth a listen.
9) Buraka Som Sistema – Komba
The first time I heard Buraka Som Sistema from fellow WCDB DJ, Yo Soy Joe, the only way I could describe it was like a rave in a jungle. Upon further research, I discovered it was known as a fusion of Kuduro beats and electronic music. This definition still does nothing for me as this is still the craziest, most fun shit I’ve ever heard. This album continues the legacy of Buraka in every way. Catchy tracks like “Hangover” and “We Stay Up All Night” couple tracks like Hypnotized and Burakaton in the best of ways.
8 ) Botnek
The first track I heard from this Canadian duo was “The Sound.” It samples KRS-One’s classic “Sound of da Police.” I was hooked since then. They put out several remixes this year for big names such as Crookers and AC Slater with Xaphoon Jones(Chiddy Bang.) With a sound that can honestly only be described as “Botnek”, they combine elements of house and electro seamlessly. I am very fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go see them at this years Igloofest in Montreal. Hopefully the live set is as bonkers as the production.
One third of production outfit DiscoTech, Gigamesh has broken out as a solo producer in 2011. He has countless disco party anthems available for free on his soundcloud, as well as a preview of his new EP. He is also featured on several of the Magician’s mixtapes known as the Magic Tape series. I have yet to hear a bad track from the man and he is easily one of my favorite producers at the moment. This quote from “When you’re Dancing” sums it up quite nicely; “When you’re dancing time expires, moving closer, getting higher.” If you have not checked him out yet, get on it!
6) Azealia Banks – “212”
I found this track by clicking on some random blog link off of the Boys Noize twitter account. It started a small craze here in Albany among some friends. It started a huge storm across the Atlantic with support from Annie Mac among several other big names. “212” showcases the young lyricist’s rhyming skills as well as her ability to sing harmoniously against a chilling bassline. Try getting this one out of your head upon first listen, simply impossible. Watch out for Ms. Banks in 2012 she is a force to be reckoned with.
5) J and Ye – Watch the Throne
Sunglasses and Advil, this album was mad real. That’s all i’m saying, this album speaks for itself.
4) SBTRKT – SBTRKT
SBTRKT is yet another producer who hides behind a mask or seemingly ambiguous name. In his own words, “I’d rather not talk about myself as a person, and let the music speak for itself.” Well, the music does in fact speak for itself as it makes the number four spot on my list. A mix between dubstep, RnB, Garage and Hip Hop, SBTRKT has all the elements for getting the party started on the weekend or for throwing on my headphones wasted at 4 am after a night of debauchery. Not many producers can double over like that and that is where the magic in SBTRKT lies.
3) The Weeknd – House of Balloons
The first thought on everyone’s mind upon hearing this mixtape was, “Who the fuck is The Weeknd?” I was shocked this was not a full on album AND it was free! The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, is a 21 year old producer from Canada who shot to fame after Rapper/Singer/Degrassian Drake started raving about him. Do not confuse this with unworthiness, he deserves every ounce of fame and recognition he recieves.
2)The Magician – “I Follow Rivers”
I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but perhaps the break up of the Aeroplane duo consisting of Vito de Luca and Stephen Fasano was for the best. While Vito kept the Aeroplane moniker, Stephen decided to continue DJing and producing under the name The Magician. He tours the world seemingly without a care that his membership in the duo deemed so influential that Pete Tong gave them the honor of the 500th essential mix, had just been revoked. His first release as the Magician was the remix of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers”. Since Mr. Fasano was known as the “DJ” half of Aeroplane I had mixed feelings about his production skills. Simply put, I have never been more wrong in my life. This remix starts out with your typical disco house beat but with a cool little drum fill placed expertly in the right spots. Then, cue the grand piano. This track is a symphony beautifully crafted by The Magician as a summer anthem come early with tons of replay value.
1) Dillon Francis – Westside
A buddy of mine, fellow WCDB DJ Mr. Kissner, first told me about Moombahton early this year. Upon hearing it, I was immediately taken aback. The simplest way to describe what I was hearing was a reggae-ton back beat coupled with dutch house sounds such as the infamous “dutch horns” made popular by big name producers such as Afrojack, Chuckie, and Laidback Luke. However, this was not your run of the mill “brohouse” jam. The kicker is that it is produced at a lower bpm than house at 108 bpm (beats per minute). This EP started my love for a genre that has reached new heights this year with support from Grammy nominated Skrillex and Diplo to club DJs everywhere. Out of all the producers in the genre, Dillon Francis is the most consistent, yet fresh. He has put out a plethora of remixes and originals this year, but the one that was the most influential to me was the Westside EP. With collaborations from Diplo and genre founder Dave Nada, it was set up for success before it even came out. It almost screams, “This is my year, watch the fuck out” Each track is a highlight and shows how talented Dillon Francis truly is. I look forwardto what Mr. Francis will bring to the table in 2012.