CS Best of 2016 — Tracks
As 2016 comes to a close, we're taking the time to reflect on our many favorite moments, artists and bodies of work from a fantastic year in music. Each member of CS team has sifted through memories and emotions to bring you our mostly coherent, occasionally eloquent and often crazed ramblings about our top selections of the year.
This one was a doozy but perhaps the most important, a reflection of ourselves in a sense. Tune in below for a collective forty-five top tracks of the year. So much goodness to get into here.
Cam's Selections •
Promises Ltd. – American Eyes
This track is immaculate. Jeremy Malvin and Charlie brand had me with their debut Days of Lavender, but when they dropped the sonic masterpiece that is American Eyes, that was it. I was content for eternity. Song of the year? Try song of the century ya'll. Promises Ltd. are here to stay
Karma Kid & Ten Ven feat. Demo Taped – Shapes
Karma Kid did a lot of good this year. The title track off his Man Of The Year EP get me more hyped than nearly anything else, but perhaps the best thing he did was team up with breakout acts Ten Ven and Demo Taped for the incredible Shapes. An ideal blend of effortless vocals and infectious, upbeat grooves make this one a consistent repeat place.
Hayden James – Just A Lover
A golden ear and production power akin to Zeus. That’s what Hayden James has got. The Aussie mainstay’s releases may be few and far between, but man are they always on point. After shaking things with his global hit Something About You the producer returned earlier this year to release Just A Lover, and I’ve appropriately lost my shit just about every time hearing it from then on.
Justin Jay & Friends – Let Go ft. Josh Taylor
Justin Jay’s collaborative album Fantastic Voyage is, well, pretty damn fantastic. So much so that choosing only one track from it to go into this list was nearly impossible. Let Go featuring Josh Taylor was the first I heard from the new project though, so I’ll gladly go with that. The track embodies all that Justin Jay is about for me – great tunes and the best times with friends. You’d have to be an automaton not to love it.
Set Mo – Comfort You ft. Fractures
I never know whether I want to jump in a 1980’s Porsche Targa and jet down a winding highway as the sun sets, or cozy up in a mountain cabin, draw a fire and split a bottle of wine with my girl when I listen to this track – but one thing's for sure, Set Mo’s Comfort You makes me feels all of the feels. And this is only one out of the string of superb singles the Sydney duo released this year. Keep it coming boys!
POOLCLVB – Give Me Love
This one only dropped a few weeks back but I cannot. get. enough. Aussie lord POOLCLVB never misses the mark and this second single off his forthcoming EP is a prime display of that. It may not be summertime here in NYC like it is for the Sydney–based producer, but Give Me Love’s sure got me feelin’ peak-time sunshine.
Young Franco – Miss You
Let’s just continue the Aussie praise yeah? My boi Young Franco’s had a massive year, and to cap it off he’s recently released what’s definitely maybe my favorite track of his to date, Miss You. The legend just did everything right here. Sultry vocals, tight percussion and lush synths all packaged up for one irresistible tune.
NVOY – Make You Mine
UK duo NVOY is another act that’s had a spectacular 2016. There’s a reason their latest belter Make You Mine can be heard is just about every house set, mixtape or live, at the moment. These lads always dish it out fresh, and just keep getting better and better. Big ups.
FKJ – Amsterjam with June Marieezy
This isn’t even an official release, yet there’s no question it’s one of my absolute favorite jams of my year, my life, anytime. You may have caught a bit about it in my ‘Best Shows’ write-up, but I had the good fortune to catch these two play live together over the summer, and without a doubt – when French maestro FKJ joins forces with the exquisite June Marieezy, magic happens. They created this little number on the spot earlier this year at Red Bull Studios in Amsterdam. Just, wow. Don’t miss the video while you're at it.
Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze's 12 inch Extended Disco Version)
Absolute essential disco jam. Any mixtape that included this track over the summer automatically went on repeat, any artist that spun it became my favorite, any moment it involved turn 1000x more glorious. The bonus here is that it's 10–minutes long, so if you loop is six times that's one full hour of bliss. Go on.
Couros – Ne·ver Break feat. Alyss
London’s Couros came out of nowhere onto my radar at the tail end of this year, but his debut Jupiter EP has me floored. The third track from the set in particular, Ne·ver Break feat. Alyss, really caught my ear. It’s cascading beats and uptempo melodies, intertwined with PMR label-mate Alyss’s soulful vocals create one of my more original production styles I’ve heard all year.
ALLURE – Glow
Groove–laden, French house music was a welcome prevalence this year and I couldn’t get enough. ALLURE’s Glow feels like the quintessential showcase of that, steeped in lush synths and tasteful melodies that make it easy to overindulge in – and that’s 100% what you should do.
Joe Hertz – Playing For You Ft. Bassette
Joe Hertz is so consistent at putting out amazing music, it kind of blows my mind. Playing For You is a new tune off his recently released How It Feels EP, featuring sultry R&B grooves and neo soul vocals courtesy of Bassette, that’s everything I love about his style in one place.
Jean Tonique – Lit Up ft. Dirty Radio
You want people to dance, you play Lit Up from Jean Tonique’s new EP of the same name. The French talent teamed up with Canadian trio Dirty Radio for this one and it almost too hot to handle. Absolute sizzler.
Kidnap Kid – Birds That Fly
Kidnap Kid minted his new label at the start of this year with the gorgeous Birds That Fly. It’s a track that’s timeless while equally progressive, anthemic yet deeply emotive. This was arguably his best work to date, but his recent Brokenhearted EP might bring that up for debate. Without a doubt though, the producer’s reached a new plateau and I can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for 2017.
Gary Paradise's Selections •
Set Mo — Chasing Forever (MANT Remix)
London duo MANT flex some serious club magic on this one, flipping Set Mo’s near-perfect original into a nightrider-esque piano powerhouse. Staple for my sets throughout the year.
Litek — Drop That (Danny Howard Remix)
BBC Radio 1's Danny Howard reworks Litek’s Drop That with absolutely knocking bass, taking control of your body functions and forcing the urge to cut every rug in sight. I played this at a pool party this summer and a friend said it was the soundtrack to “rap girls dropping low in bikinis”.
Yotto — The Owls
In short, a pure, unapologetic brick wall of a banger. Finland’s Yotto has delivered time and time again in 2016, but The Owls tops the list (barely) with a spiraling, magnetic journey through outer space. I’ve caught myself raving in public while listening to this one a couple times.
Miami Horror — Cellophane (Loframes Remix)
I love tracks that are able to unravel slowly and end with a bang. French/UK duo Loframes add some serious funk to the already vivacious Cellophane, culminating in a mixture of epic sounds that make you want to conquer life.
Vallis Alps — Young (Zimmer Remix)
This one is way too emotional to leave out — sultry female vocals flow over downtempo drum hits and piano, all of which touch the soul like nothing else can. I think I’ve played this one on most forms of public transportation while reflecting on the shitshow that was 2016.
Lil Silva — Lines (George Fitzgerald Remix)
I’ve always been an advocate of London’s Lil Silva, and feel like he’s been insanely overlooked in the past couple years. Silva plus Hotflush alumni and UK legend George Fitzgerald equals a refreshingly relaxed but raw experience, a killer final track before taking your headphones off.
Shura — What's It Gonna Be (Tourist Remix)
Two of the UK’s finest artists of the moment, and a total 180 from other Tourist tracks in my opinion. I challenge anyone not to move their body when jamming to this, or jump 100 ft. in the air if you hear it live. All bets are off at the 4:01 mark, where distortion and chopped vocals become your best friend.
Tam Cooper — Be Bold (Philip George Remix)
I can confidently say there has not been a more powerful piano line from any other track this year. I wasn’t in the UK warehouse scene in the 90’s but this is what I imagine it was like, all love and peace and such — plus a very, very thumping kick to round things off.
Braxton — Body
With a heavy dose of shimmer (make no mistake, a good thing), Body is the kind of track you end up listening to 14 times in a row because its energy is so uplifting. It’s really hard not to close your eyes and be teleported to some sort of paradise.
Icarus — Hiding
This one just came out on Anjunadeep 08, and is one of the most emotional dance songs I’ve ever heard. Bristol’s Icarus showcase totally unrivaled layering skills, nailing a feeling of beauty and chaos like I’ve never experienced. Really impressed with how far these guys have come this year.
Lane 8 — Crush
While it was really, really difficult to select the best Lane 8 track of the year, Crush has legitimately secured a permanent place in my being. The ability to merge bliss and entropy, celebration and uncertainty is absolutely astounding. Lane 8’s command of arpeggiated synth lines is basically an eighth world wonder.
Promises Ltd. — Days of Lavender (Gigamesh Remix)
Though Promises Ltd. undoubtedly emerged as one’s to watch in 2016, nu-disco pioneer Gigamesh handedly constructs a silky smooth and anthemic rework of their single Days of Lavender with his midas touch. Both bouncing and gorgeous, for which we are thankful.
Bordertown — 99
Bordertown might not have released a ton of new tracks this year, but trust me when I say quality trumps quantity to the furthest extent. 99 came out of nowhere to reign supreme on all other dancefloor contenders, channeling 90’s vibes to turn up the heat on any situation you could ever find yourself in.
RÜFÜS DU SOL — Say A Prayer For Me (Alex Metric Remix)
One of nearly infinite Bloom remixes that came out in 2016 (hell yes), French phenom Alex Metric cranks out a face-melting belter with so much going on at once you get legitimately lost in sound. My neighbors have to hate me for playing this on max +1 volume a few too many times, and if you ever need a last track to guide the pre-game into a night out this is the one. [LISTEN]
Tobtok — Aber
Aber is the closest I’ll come to listening to anything remotely Tropical House, but the story behind it is honestly touching, and lighthearted sound makes it hard to resist a smile. This came out in the heat of summer and I vividly remember blasting it in a friend’s 2001 Volkswagen after leaving the farmer’s market with the sun shining down in California, amirite? [LISTEN]
Leonard's Selections •
Ruby Empress – Deluca
This is one of those songs that once it comes along, you can’t imagine how you were living without it. It’s dreamy and is instantly part of your arsenal, forever. The only bad thing to possibly say about Ruby Empress is that they haven’t made enough music! Here’s to much more of this from these Swedish geniuses in 2017.
The Magician – Shy
A classic house banger from the Magician. Steel drums and deep angry bass. I first heard this song in a club from the man himself and the club is exactly where it belongs.
ZHU – GenerationWhy
The title track from Zhu’s 2016 album, this song seriously holds it’s own. It’s the anthem for Zhu’s generation of the post-modern deep house kids. You can almost feel the rebellion against traditional EDM in this track and I love it. It’s unique, understated and proves Zhu is no one-hit-wonder.
Chris Malinchak – Wonderful
Malinchak gets back to basics with this track. If you loved So Good To Me, then you loved this. It’s like the two songs were made from one sound, four years apart. Classic Malinchak feel-good vibes through and through.
Bag Raiders – Breakdown
Bag Raiders made a melancholy, sweeping vocal ballad that makes you want to dance in the rain and call your ex-girlfriend? You had me at Bag Raiders, but YES PLEASE! This song is a love song for the ages. Blast it loud... just please don’t call her.
Rationale – Prodigal Son
Tracy Chapman, Stevie Nicks and Toto had a love child and this song is it. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. Between the deep horn synths and Rationale’s ridiculous voice, you’re gonna want to rinse and repeat this one for sure.
Majestique – Moonlight
This song came out of nowhere for me and I’m so glad it did. Another dance track seemingly straight out of the 80s, this one will make you stand up and move. It seems like the simplest bass and synth combo but damn is it good!
Lane 8 – Midnight
I easily could’ve chosen five Lane 8 tracks for this list but I held it to just this one. Although certainly not the deepest club track from him this year, this song resonated with me the most. It’s that introspective type of track that belongs in a movie montage or a long-distance drive. If a song can convince someone to travel, this is it.
PARC – Forever
If they need help scoring Season 2 of Stranger Things, this song will come in handy. It’s as if it’s been lifted straight out of a John Hughes coming-of-age 80s film. Station wagon make–outs and bad high school decisions are behind every note of this gem.
Du Tonc – Slow Down
I also could’ve chosen more than one Du Tonc track for this list but this one takes the cake. This mesmerizing jam has some serious 80s undertones (noticing a pattern?). With heavily manipulated vocals, bouncy bass and elaborate synthesizers, I get lost in this song every time.
Kenton Slash Demon – TT
This is probably the most unique track in my list of favorites but that’s mostly just because Kenton Slash Demon is making music unlike anyone else. The amount of production that went into this song must’ve been absurd, I’d love to see the file. It’s futuristic, confusing, and sounds like you’re navigating your way out of a computer switchboard. Check out other songs by KSD, you won’t be disappointed.
Frank Ocean – White Ferrari (Alex Metric Remix)
I’m actually shocked that this is one of only three remixes to make my cut this year. I’m even more shocked that I liked a Frank Ocean remix more than the original because his album this year was FIRE. Alex Metric took on the challenge and added his own soundscape to this gem. Hopefully even Frank himself would enjoy it.
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Say A Prayer For Me
I can’t say enough about what Rufus did this year but this song epitomizes it all for me. The crowd shouted every word of this song in concert. I’ve shouted it alone in my car. Emotion and motion in vocals and rhythm, this song is so smooth it hurts.
Rainer + Grimm – Talk to Me (Bit Funk Remix)
Bit Funk for the win! This remix is so money it’s absurd. If there was a signature sound of 2016 it would be the deep horn synth of this song. It appeared in a number of tracks this year, few better than this one. Turn this one up and start bouncing.
Fred Falke – It’s A Memory (Oliver Remix)
An absolute modern classic. Fred Falke created an amazing original to build on here, and Oliver took that framework to a whole new level. This is one of those tunes I’ll never get tired of. A perfect balance of nostalgia and energizing electronic. Long live French Touch.