For me, it was all about Four Tet’s remix of Eric Prydz’s “Opus.” A late arrival in 2015, Four Tet managed to take an anthemic marvel and churned it into a surreal epic that felt like a stormy sea of synths – lifting higher and higher until you could literally feel your heart bursting out of your chest. Very few tracks have actually brought tears to my eyes, but this has turned me into an emotional mess time and time again.
Honorable mentions: Dominica, “Gotta Let You Go (Bicep Edit)”; Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, “Omen (Jonas Rathsman Remix)”; KDA, “Rumble (Shadow Child Re-Edit).”
Disclosure’s Caracal. By far. To be completely honest, when it initially dropped in September, I was pretty disappointed. But after multiple listens all the way through, from beginning to end, one thing became incredibly clear to me. While their freshman effort, Settle, had more radio friendly and club ready tracks, Caracal stands out as a more unified body of work with a very specific through line which shows an incredible level of restraint and maturity not just for a sophomore album, but for any album period. Like Daft Punk’s Discovery, I think Caracal will be the album that people talk about when someone mentions Disclosure 10 years from now.
Honorable Mention: Duke Dumont, “Blasé Boys Club, Pt. 1″ [Virgin]; Lane 8, “RISE” [Anjunadeep]; Various Artists, “Dirtybird 10″ [Dirtybird].
Track of the Year
When the summer happened, I always whipped out Melé’s “Ambience” during my sets. It’s undeniably one of the fiercest records of 2015 and really gave my other favorite track, Jess Glynne’s poppy dance sing-a-long “Hold My Hand,” a real run for its money. The tribal attitude, the crazy vocal sample that howls into the sky; all of it, to me, is 100% summer and I will absolutely throw it down during the summers – and late night jam sessions – to come.
Honorable Mention: Jess Glynne, “Hold My Hand”; Claude VonStroke, “Barrump”; DJ Haus, “Make It Hot;” Jamie XX, “Loud Places.”
Best New Artist
Kiwi. He was the first signee on Duke Dumont’s Blasé Boys Club imprint, he’s been making waves with many of his remixes (including one he did of Petite Meller’s “Baby Love” which I played during multiple rooftop sets in the summer season this year), and he has been featured as one of Annie Mac’s big up-and-comers from 2015.
Honorable Mentions: Fono; Sam Feldt; Jess Glynne.
Artist of the Year
2015 was a crazy year for Claude VonStroke. His label turned 10 years old. He threw down multiple cookouts and a campout weekend. The Dirtybird Don traveled to Ibiza for the summer season, played multiple major festivals, and had enough time to make orange juice from the trees that grow in his backyard. In addition to his massive singles “Barrump” and “Make a Cake,” he slaughtered the remix game with his edit of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” which effectively shit on every trap artist’s take on possibly the biggest white girl song of the year. And don’t even get me started on his opening duties for Disclosure during their North American tour (here’s a hint: FIRE).
Honorable Mentions: Eau Claire; Michael Calfan; Jess Glynne; Four Tet; Lane 8.
Favorite Show of the Year
This past September, Will Eastman threw his final BLISS party ever at U Street Music Hall. It was a night of revelry, melancholy, joy, and reflection as he worked his way through 15 years of music. It also didn’t hurt that he waited to play Soulwax’s remix of The Gossip’s “Standing in the Way of Control” until I was in the building. God – I love that fucking record.
Honorable Mentions: Jess Glynne [U Street Music Hall]; Above & Beyond [Echostage]; Blisspop presents SLICE: H Street Festival Edition [Rock & Roll Hotel]; The 2 Bears [Flash]; ROAM IX [Undisclosed location].
Label of the Year
This is going to feel like beating a dead horse. Dirtybird Records. Aside from celebrating their ten year anniversary and the multiple releases from artists like Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke, Kill Frenzy, and Justin Jay over the past year, the craziest parties I attended in 2015 happened to be Dirtybird related. Their fanbase not only came out in droves, but they showed a real hunger for weird, zany, original content that hit incredibly hard. And fortunately for us, Dirtybird delivered on that promise in 2015. Every. Damn. Time.
Honorable Mentions: Anjunadeep; Rinse; Hot Creations.
DC Artist to Watch
He’s a hometown homey who knows his shit and I love him to death for it. Phil Hafner, the quiet guy in the booth who people see on the setlist as Philco, has been steadily making his mark by supporting the scene and working the grind while showing a very loving nod to the house heroes who came before him like Masters at Work, Simon Dunmore, and just about anyone from Chicago. With phenomenal remixes in 2015 and a slew of new content planned for the new year in conjunction with multiple shared bills with massive artists (*cough* Catz ‘n’ Dogz *cough*), Philco’s status in D.C. is only going to get bigger and bigger. Watch him. I’m telling you. Don’t let the calm demeanor fool you. He’s a beast.
Tale of Us turned Plastikman’s “EXpand” into a dark, deliberate, and contemplative techno track with their remix. They emphasized the piano, created a perfect breakdown, and demonstrated a masterful understanding of how to create intricate rhythms with percussion. For these reasons, Plastikman – “EXpand (Tale of Us Remix)” wins best remix of 2015 in my book.
Honorable mentions: Kaiserdisco, “Jet Stream (H.O.S.H. Remix)”; Solomon Grey, “Miradors (Lane 8 Remix)”; Mister Woo, “Black Eyes (Alan Fitzpatrick’s Loft Rocker Rework).”
Toolroom Records’ Rhythm Distrikt 12 compilation earns best LP/EP of the year. Rhythm Distrikt 12 features ten heavy hitting and occasionally melodic tracks – each one warrants high praise.
Honorable Mention: Various Artists, “Kitties on Trance (Sample) [Suara].”
Track of the Year
Scuba’s “Glacial” is my favorite track of 2015. With exquisite effects, automation, and a perfect track structure, Scuba demonstrates the merit in keeping melodic and other elements of music simple.
Honorable Mention: KMLN, “Walam.”
Best New Artist
Chicago based band MONAKR is my pick for the best new artists of 2015. Founded in February, MONAKR quickly came out with the melodically intoxicating “Diamond.” They followed up “Diamond” with “Calling Out” and a brilliant cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” Watch out for MONAKR in 2016.
Artist of the Year
Matteo Milleri and Carmine Conte of Tale of Us are hands down my favorite artists of 2015. I wrote up every single Tale of Us release this year for one reason: each of their productions is a unique stroke of genius. Expect big things from these Berlin based techno superstars in 2016.
Favorite Show of the Year
BLISS: Last Call was a very special night in every way and it was my favorite show of the year. September 26, 2015 marked the 15 year anniversary of Will Eastman’s BLISS party, and Will sent the party off well with a memorable 6 hour set at U St Music Hall. For his solo set at this last BLISS party, Will played his favorite tracks from 2000-2015, roughly sequentially. Listen to the set here:
Label of the Year
As their slogan goes, Suara is “all about music and cats.” We also adore felines here at Blisspop, but that’s not why Suara is my favorite label of the year. Over the past 12 months months, Suara has consistently released a diverse selection of top underground tunes. Check out these highlights:
DC Artist to Watch
DC is filled with talented artists. Often when people think of culture and the arts, they look to New York. But if you travel a few hours down I-95 to our nation’s capital, you will find a noteworthy concentration of artists. I know many talented artists in DC, and each of them deserves an honorable mention. But for the sake of brevity, I am naming one DC artist who I think you should watch: DJ Lisa Frank (a.k.a. Morgan Tepper). I had the chance to hear Morgan play multiple times this year and each time she floored me. Her ability to read a room and select tracks based on that reading is impeccable. As a techno enthusiast, my taste in music aligns closely with hers. Watch for DJ Lisa Frank in 2016.
D.C. implant Nick Garcia has been a growing blip on our radar after the release of his EP, ‘Stereosoul,’ as well as his recent contribution to the District Summer compilation which dropped earlier this month. When we asked him to be a part of the Blisspop Mix Series, he delivered a sensationally deep mix that treaded into the far reaches of techno and deep house. Here’s what he had to say about his mix:
“When I set out to create this mix, I wanted to showcase lots of unreleased stuff I’ve either been working on or have helped with – I’m always mixing, mastering, or remixing tracks for my friends, so there’s a lot of material sitting around that either isn’t out or is being promo’d. Two of my own unreleased tunes are featured here, a remix of “Let’s Pretend,” a track off my label mate Adam Johan’s EP of the same name, and “Floatnumb,” an experimental house tune I put together for Lifted Contingency. I also started the mix with a little mashup of “Unt6,” by my friend Dumka, and “Gossip,” something I mastered recently for label mates, Shaedes. They went together so perfectly I had to edit them into one track.
In addition to friends, I tried to showcase a lot of what inspires me, including releases from some of my favorite labels including Warp, Eglo, and Numbers. You’ll hear a recently released composition by Aphex Twin float in and out; he’s probably the biggest inspiration to me of anyone making music today. Daniel Avery, Floating Points, Dominik Eulberg, and Pangaea make appearances, as well as the mysterious Deejay Deer and Innervisions heavyweights AME. I also had to put in this edit of “She Can’t Love You,” a classic by Chemise. A bit of the odd tune out, but it’s a funk banger that I’ve been listening to for years.
To close out, “Nylah/Koda,” a tune off my recently released ‘Stereosoul’ EP, was the obvious choice. Thanks to the Blisspop crew for having me and to all the listeners for tuning in.”
You can stream Nick Garcia’s entry in the Blisspop Mix Series below.
1. Dumka, “Unt6″
2. Shaedes, “Gossip”
3. Internet Daughter, “Pass Dat”
4. Dominik Eulberg, “Meerjungfrauenportemonnaie”
5. Chemise, “She Can’t Love You (Kenflow Version)”
6. Adam Johan, “Let’s Pretend (Nick Garcia Remix)”
7. Deejay Deer, “Natural”
8. Aphex Twin, “MARCHROMT30a Edit 2b”
9. Nick Garcia, “Floatnumb”
10. Daniel Avery, “Water Jump”
11. Yonkers Tale, “Seductive”
12. Nick Garcia, “Alone”
13. Pangaea, “Stimulant Dub”
14. Bodhi, “Polysizer”
15. Sunju Hargun & Forrest, “Palace”
16. Floating Points, “ARP3″
17. AME, “Tatischeff”
18. Nick Garcia, “Nylah/Koda”
French Horn Rebellion have completely crushed the nu disco game with a funked out remix of Catey Shaw’s “Human Contact.” Slap bass and upbeat guitar work with retro flavored synths to set the vocals on fire for one of the catchiest tracks we’ve heard yet this year. It’s been steadily climbing the charts, and there’s not much question why.
FHR are also set to headline U Street Music Hall this coming Thursday. Their shows are guaranteed parties, so you definitely don’t want to miss out, especially with Blisspop’s Caleb L’Etoile opening. Check out their mix for Thump below to help get you in the mood and grab tickets HERE