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Best of 2012: Tracks

December 22, 2012

You’ve seen the rest, now read the best:

50. Dixlexsix – Crossed Eyed Girl

A nice tip from Erol Alkan’s 6Mix show, this is a messy little indie/electro cross-over with a lot of charm.

49. Belleruche – Wasted Time (Ross PTH Mix)

Kathrin deBoer’s gorgeous voice is the key to this song, the remix just gives it that little bit extra.

48. Recloose – Feels Like Magic (Instrumental)

Once the nippy noise in the first minute subsides, this reveals itself as a really classy house track from arguably New Zealand’s finest dance producer.

47. DJ Format – Horse Power

As much as I enjoyed Format’s vocal collaborations on ‘Statement of Intent’, it was this instrumental sample jam that I kept on coming back to.

46. Photek & Kuru – Fountainhead

An exclusive from Photek’s patchy DJ-Kicks mix earlier in the year, this showed the vetran producer’s still got some chops.

45. The 2 Bears – Birds and the Bees

Hidden behind more mainstream tracks like ‘Bear Hug’ was this wonderful little album track. Proper uplifting, soulful stuff.

44. Jai Paul – Jasmine (Demo)

Ubiquitous with the trendies this year, it pains me to say this is a very well-crafted piece of music.

43. Cadence Weapon – Conditioning

If only more hip hop could sound like this, and more rappers could look like him. Doing it for cool Canadian’s everywhere.

42. Jacob Mikesh Filburt – At the Ranch (Lauer Mix)

Constantly sounding like Janet Jackson’s going to chime in with a sassy vocal, this is first class funk for the 21st century.

41. Portishead – Machine Gun (Jimmy Edgar Mix)

The original was crying out for a remix and thankfully big Jim does the business, beefing up the machine-drums and taking full advantage of that piercing synth line when the break finally comes.

40. Clam’s Casino – Palace / Unchain Me (Instrumentals)

When you remove the whack-ness of Lil B and ASAP Rocky’s rapping from Clam’s Casino’s production work you’re left with some of the most weird and wonderful instrumental hip hop I’ve heard since MF Doom’s last foray.

39. Ejeca – Tetra (Repercolated)

It’s been a brilliant year for the vinyl-only Tusk Wax label, and for me, this cut from the promising Northern Irish producer is the best of the current cannon.

38. Lindstromm – Ra-ako-ost

Terje’s midas touch is all over this driving disco track.

37. Aesop Rock – ZeroDarkThirty

Teaming up with Rob Sonic, this is exactly the kind of angry spitting and powerful production we’ve come to expect from Aesop Rock.

36. Justice – On’n’On (Ruined by Rick Rubin)

Not the first man I’d expect to turn in a sterling remix, the hirstute Columbia co-president does a fine job of beefing up the lacklustre original.

35. Frank Wiedemann & Ry Cuming – Howling (Âme Remix)

Âme does a big Gui Boratto-style bass rumble job on the slightly anaemic acoustic orginial.

34. Kendrick Lamar – Welcome to LA

Tracks like this, ‘Good Kid’ and ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’ nearly put Lamar’s album into my other list, but for me, these flashes of brilliance were too few and far between. Still, I couldn’t get this backing track out of my head for weeks.

33. Orbital – Stringy Acid

The high point of a distinctly average return.

32. The Invisible – Wings

With Radiohead not releasing this year, Dave Okumu’s band is the next best thing; this track being a prime example.

31.  Flying Lotus – The Nightcaller

It’s hard to pick a favourite from such a lovely liquid album, but the electronic noises all over this track really pull me in; sounds more Aphex Twin than Flying Lotus.

30. Hot Chip – Look At Where We Are (Four Tet Mix)

A game of two halves: the first couple of minutes is all delicate drums, synth washes and Alexis Taylor’s falsetto vocals, then it kicks on into the kind of wonky house that Hebden’s been smashing dancefloors with for the last few years.

29. Danny Brown – Grown Up

When he’s not busy being a manky bastard, Danny Brown’s actually a pretty good rapper; as evidenced here in this breezy ode to school days.

28. Jokers of the Scene – Black Mountie (Daniel Avery Mix)

The best of Avery’s many remixes this year, turning Jokers of the Scene’s basic banger into a driving, Weatherall-esque indie-acid monster; with a breakdown to die for.

27. Lone – Lying in the Reeds

Unashamedly old school synth work from the new master of the genre.

26. Jack White – Freedom at 21

Jack doing what he does best: skuzzy blues guitar, simple drums, distinctive vocals and not much else.

25. Sir Own – Hooked (Kon’s Nite Time Remix)

The extended edit trend seemed to generally peter out this year, apart from a few notable exceptions, like this glorious rework of Cerrone’s 1981 hit ‘Hooked On You’.

24. Frank Ocean – Sweet Life

Probably the most over-hyped record of the year did contain some genuinely good tracks; this restrained R&B review of LA’s spoilt brats was the pick of the bunch for me.

23. Rory Philips – Mover

The hottest cut from his second Mixed Fortunes release, ‘Mover’ signalled the London stalwart’s move from DJ to DJ/Producer.

22. Pachanga Boys – Time / Legs

I was priviledged to hear Michael Mayer end his set with ‘Time’ at Kapital in Edinburgh and with dreamy synths, a relevant refrain and 15 minute duration; it sounded like pretty much the perfect one last tune.

21. Matthew Dear – Ahead of Myself

I didn’t think that much of the overall album, but this is a complete gem; imagine TV on the Radio crossed with Boards of Canada.

20. Simian Mobile Disco – Supermoon

Unpatterns was a pretty good album, but if you didn’t find the bonus tracks you would have missed out on their finest work of 2012; Supermoon sounds like the best acid house track Orbtial never wrote.

19. Kindness – Gee Up (Erol Alkan’s Extended Rework)

Trust Erol to have the crucial tweaks to turn Adam Bainbridge’s hipster noodlings into a rollicking funk-fest.

18. Ian Pooley – CompuRhythm (Dixon 4×4 Treatment)

The Innervisions stable once again proving anthemic tech house isn’t dead.

17. Justin Martin – Ruff Stuff / Don’t Go

There seemed to be an awful lot of garage-inspired bassy house music doing the rounds this year, but for my money the only guy getting the sound right was Justin Martin.

16. Tom Trago – Use Me Again (Carl Craig Mix)

It seems as though every year there’s at least one Carl Craig remix in my lists. This Chicago house-infused  monster is well worth its place in the top 20.

15. Michael Mayer – Lamusetwa

The magnificently-titled Mantasy contained many a fine track, but this atmospheric slow-burner was my favourite.

14.  Midland – Placement

More sterling production work from one of my favourite breakthrough artists of last year.

13. Daniel Avery – Water Jump

The rookie of the year waited until the last couple fo months to drop his biggest production bomb yet; a heady blend of old jungle-y breaks and acidic industrial synths.

12. Clark – Com Touch

The rest of the album was a bit pish, but this was a divine slice of Warp-o-tronica.

11. Alt-J – Fitzpleasure

Who’d have guessed the best bass drop of 2012 would come from a bunch of fey indie Englishmen?

10. New Build – Medication

While Hot Chip’s latest album was a bit of a mess, this side project was much more consistent; full of cheery little ditty’s like this.

09. John Talabot – Last Land

I desperately wanted to hear this while relaxing with a cerveza at an outside cafe in Barcelona this summer, but alas it wasn’t to be. Delightful downtempo deepness from one of the year’s break-through artists.

08. Django Django – Default / Hail Bop

While not the first indie band to successfully incorporate dance music traits, these bright young Scots managed to do it without sounding too try hard.

07. El-P – Request Denied

Probably the best album-opener this year; an incendiary bassline and similarly menacing production proclaimed El-P’s return to form.

06. Tame Impala – Apocalypse Dreams

A glorious slab of sun-kissed pyschedelia, this makes me want to jack it all in an become a beach bum in Perth (Perth, Australia that is).

05. The Units – High Pressure Days (Todd Terje Mix)

I’m a sucker for a good indie remix, and this is about as good as they come; my favourite just-before-you-leave-the-house-on-a-night-out track of the year.

04. Laurent Garnier – Jacques in the Box / Our Futur

A woefully underappreciated return to form from possibly my favourite DJ going; an integral part of his LBS live sessions and the best thing on Ed Banger all year.

03. Daphni – Yes, I Know

The perfect mix of filth and fun. Devestatingly simple future music from Dan Snaith.

02. Miike Snow – Devil’s Work

Technically this was released last year, but it was too late for my 2011 lists and still sounds just as good 12 months later; how all pop music should be.

01. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Simply the most joyous record made in 2012 and pretty much the pinnacle of the nu-cosmic-disco sound; here’s hoping all the pretenders will give up now and we can move on.

And the also rans: Girl Unit – Ensemble; Kolombo – Don’t Be Shy; Munk – Kitchen Call (Daniel Avery’s 7AM Mix); Joy Orbison – Ellipsis; Luke Abbott – Modern Driveway; Andres – New For U; Disclosure – What’s In Your Head?; Band of Skulls – You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Goin’ On; Years & Years – I Wish I Knew; D/R/U/G/S – Triga; Killer Mike – Reagan; Atoms For Peace – Default; Beaumont – Rendez-Vous; LuLuxpo – Rock Me Love (It’s A Fine Line Mix); Nathan Fake – Paean; Duke Dumont – The Giver; Purity Ring – Obedear; LIT – Brown Dwarf (Hyena Stomp Red Giant Mix).

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