Well, where do I even start with this year. It has been one of the most awful years I can think of for the people globally! I almost don’t want to go through it! Terrorism, explosions, the most bizarre year ever for politics, Trump, Brexit the change of Prime Minister in the UK and continuing internal squabbling seemingly globally in different political parties!
It seemed we had a year where we were clearly dedicated to ripping ourselves apart. There was so much hatred, so much division among the people. There seemed to be so many black people getting shot by the police in America there was a bombing in New York, it’s really not been a positive year.
Plus, we add to that the losses we have had this year. Death seems to have touched many people’s lives this year be it the number of famous icons that have passed this year or be it the number of people who I know who have felt it personally in the loss of great people who were in their lives. If you are feeling this loss this year, I send you my love.
This year has felt at times for me musically, a little flat. Most of the records that would have been crossover records (previous years would have been Duke Dumont’s I Got U and Second City’s I Wanna Feel) have gone and the vast majority of music that can be classed as even close to “dance” and definitely not house have been washed out “tropical” records that sound a mixture of lack luster house and reggae with a bit of EDM thrown in. We also saw producers change their style up to the popular too, just have a listen to Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s “This is what we came for.” You can tell it’s deliberately commercially aimed at the new deep scene. Disclosure released a new EP and with the exception of “Boss” felt (to me certainly) generally uninspiring. It’s been hard work this year to find new music, but still, I have continued to search for it.
I can’t help but feel currently that the divide between the mainstream and tracks that get club play are getting play are getting wider apart. As I previously mentioned the crossover is getting smaller certainly to tracks that do well in the general chart. Maybe Offaiah’s Trouble and Kideko’s Crank That but asides that, not much!
There are both pros and cons to this. Some people are keen to keep these two scenes separate and for what they argue are good reasons like the credibility of the music and not losing the underground feel. Others would argue that much like Latin, if the number of people that are aware of how to speak it dwindles over time, then you will be left with a dead language! By that I mean that if there aren’t links for people to hear the more underground and less commercial stuff, then it will become more isolated and venues will suffer, as will the artists that make music for people to buy.
It’s clear that the gentrification of proper house music has continued this year with the threat of closure of London’s Fabric. By now you all know the story so I’ll not go into it in great depth but there seems to be a bit of a war going on against nightlife venues in the UK.
One place that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case is Amsterdam. This year I was lucky enough to be able to visit Amsterdam for the first time and I had a great time. The Dutch people were so friendly and welcoming and it was great fun. I have to give a special shout out to Liz (and all of the other people from her and my family that she involved in the planning for it and who paid as a present towards any of the total cost) for organizing it. When I opened that as a gift on my birthday, it was amazing! And Liz had already had the thought to contact Kono and let him know we would be there so we could have the first Dirty Disco Radio and FunkySexyMusic meeting in person! Kono and I have grown to be very good friends as we have worked together (or more as I have tried to help him!) on DirtyDiscoRadio content and to actually sit for an afternoon and have a beer and talk in person was lovely.
At the end of that afternoon Kono told us about a party we had been invited to and we decided to go. I was very excited and kind of a bit surprised as I had entirely missed that that party was on on the Sunday evening. But we went still. And I was very excited, you don’t get better than ADE, meeting a close friend for the first time, getting guest listed and going to see Roger Sanchez, Tough Love and for me, very excitedly, Man Without A Clue (who also came down from the stage to say Hi to us and arranged the guest list) so many thanks to him and Kono for such a wonderful evening! I also met friend of DirtyDiscoRadio and featured DJ from this year Adrian Hardy, and even though it was a brief meeting, it was great to meet him too.
Also on the bright side of this year we had some great sessions and shows. Asides Kono and Dirty Disco Radio and my own FunkySexyCoolDeep, I’d like to take time to big up James Lee for the All Luv’Dup Radio sessions, Karl “Tuff Enuff” Brown for returning to us on the Essential Beat1 Show (great to have him back!) and also to Sam Divine for a year of great episodes of Defected Radio.
But what of the tunes? Well that is the interesting part! I’m thinking that Trouble is the most commercial selection on this list but actually, the more I think about it, the move towards more “underground” tracks is actually a good thing, so these are my “under the surface” tracks that were out there winning this year.
Tracks Of The Year
January – Gershon Jackson – Take It Easy (Sonny Fodera and Mat.Joe Remix)
Well what can I say about this track? One of my absolute favourites this year. Great production, brilliant use of the Aretha Franklyn vocal and that lovely springy bassline that rolls through as well. Great stuff here from Sonny Fodera and Mat.Joe
February – Kactuz & Coeus – On My Mind
A cheeky offering here from Low Steppa’s Simma Red Label. A great moody track with a nice vocal sample at the beginning breaking in to a full soulful vocal for the main body of the track. Moody but not too moody this is a really well balanced track.
March –Fred Everything Feat Jinadu – Searching (Deetron Remix)
Every time I hear this I have a small moment to myself. It really splits opinion. Some people think it sounds off beat and don’t like it and others like myself love it. The assault to the senses of the sheer amount of percussion you are offered as the track starts make its very intense but once the track starts properly, it’s a beautiful big soulful records with great vocals and one that will get stuck in your head for days.
April – Space Echo – Soul Power
When I first heard this record, I fell in love with it straight away. It’s a great chugging disco burner with an absolutely amazing sample. I love track similar to this with samples that just fit perfectly. The sample builds a great bridge and when the beat drops back in, it’s time to go bananas! Top Stuff!
May – Tonja Dantzler – In and Out Of My Life (Armand Van Helden Mix – Shan & Gerd Janson Edit)
This has to have one of the longest titles of the year! Tonja Dantzler ‘In And Out Of My Life’ (Armand Van Helden Mix – Shan & Gerd Janson Edit) is the full title. All we need really say about it is it is a superb showcase of classic Van Helden remixing that was touched up by Shan & Gerd Janson!
June – Man Without A Clue & Alias Rhythm – What We Had To Do
Released on Armada records at the beginning of the summer, this has stayed a favourite of mine all year. The wobbling bass kick from the start into that deep rolling garage feeling bass got me hooked straight away! This one may have been a little slept on and undeservedly so! Man Without A Clue is definitely a name you need to get to know and remember as he has again had a very strong year and I have no doubt there will be more great music to follow next year!
July – MRJ – Elevate
Disclosure feeling brilliant deep house. I have to confess not knowing much about MRJ but this is one record from this year you don’t want to miss!
August – Offaiah – Trouble
If you haven’t heard this record this year you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. A great record with a beautiful build from the beginning and a nice bouncy kick to it. Sampled lyrics from Charlie Puth & Lil Wayne’s Nothing But Trouble are used in probably a better way than the original record to create one of this year’s biggest crossover house records.
September – DJ Cameo & Junction 13 Feat Manny – Morning Rain
A lovely soulful offering that I chased for a good chunk of this year as the release seemed to be delayed a number of times but well worth the wait. Pure soul heaven.
October – Studioheist – All My Love
This record feels like Konstantin Sibold or Hnny. A great properly deep feeling warm record. Don’t miss this one.
November – Sam Divine & Curtis Gabriel – Flashing Lights
Heavy and dirty are the first two words that come to mind here and they are nothing but compliments! Two stars of the scene in Divine and Gabriel give us a great roller that will have you flexing all the way through!
December – Anabel Englund – London Headache (Crookers Remix)
This track starts with that big fat Crookers drum kick that we have grown to be used to (also see XXX) from earlier this year. The use of the layered vocal samples from Englund and then dropping back in to a late ’97 garage feeling vibe and a very dry beats and percussion heavy track was a great way to remix an already brilliant song. If you haven’t heard this, you definitely should!
Rudimental – Healing
Another big crossover record this year which Rudimental initially hid the fact they were behind but shouldn’t have done! The beginning is nice and percussive with a great vocal chop mixed with really soulful vocal. As it builds it becomes a fuller and warmer sound and then drops into a great driving bassline. A great record.
Bizarre Inc – Playin’ With Knives (Low Steppa Remix)
I’ve been chasing this since Low Steppa previewed this around a year ago! He and Skapes have used this in their sets all year and it’s become a very heavily talked about record. It’s the perfect mixture of an old school rave classic and new school pressure. The break for this is classic Low Steppa but that works, as it always does, perfectly. Prepare to hear me play this a lot in my coming sets!
Flava D Feat Miss Fire – Happy
Now here is a lady that is currently on top in the garage scene. As well as making here own music, she is also a part of “The Avengers” of the garage scene – TDQ alongside DJQ and Royal-T. Now that’s a heavyweight sound, but at the same time, let’s not take anything away from Flava D, she’s more than capable of carrying her own music and DJing without any other superstars from the scene and doing it with style and class and to a very high standard. Happy is most likely one of the very best garage records out this year. With a sound reminiscent of Wookie or MJ Cole, this is a beautiful vocal garage roller.
Here at Dirty Disco Radio, we love to know what you think and we’d love to know what your suggestions are for songs of the year. Please feel free to let us know in the comments box.
Have a great new year to all the listeners and readers and roll on 2017 so we can see what great music is waiting for us all then!