XLR8R's Favorite Tracks of 2010, Part Two
And here it is... XLR8R's top 20 tracks of 2010. Is there much else to say, except maybe "let the hating begin"? We've even attached our editorial team's own two cents to the top 10 tunes, just to give you internet commenters some ammo to work with. Check out the bottom half of the list (numbers 21-40) here, and stay tuned for our favorite albums/EPs later this week.
20. Kyle Hall "Kaychunk"
19. Breach "Fatherless"
18. Games (Feat. Laurel Halo) "Strawberry Skies"
[Hippos in Tanks]
17. Girl Unit "Shade On"
16. Doc Daneeka "Hold On"
15. Salem "King Night"
14. Ramadanman "Work Them"
13. Zinc feat. Ms. Dynamite "Wile Out"
12. Teengirl Fantasy "Cheaters"
11. LV feat. Okmalumkoolkat "Boomslang"
10. Four Tet "Angel Echoes"
In our review of Four Tet's breathtaking fifth album, There Is Love in You, we noted that ""Angel Echoes" conveys nothing so much as serenity." The statement obviously still rings true, but now, nearly a year after its release, producer Kieran Hebden's opener from what is arguably his best album conveys something closer to a tasteful swelling of palpable anticipation. The song grows considerably with bubbling electronics, a simple drum rhythm, and a soul-soaked vocal sample across its four minutes, but eventually sputters out. Only later do we realize that "Angel Echoes" gently prepares us for the briliant body of inventive dance music that follows its touching sounds. Patric Fallon
9. Tensnake "Coma Cat"
Truth be told, this track probably would have been even higher if we didn't find out that Tensnake "borrowed" so heavily from Anthony and the Camp's 1986 track, "What I Like." That said, if you're going to steal something, it's hard to argue with taking from a legend like John "Jellybean" Benitez. Plus, that melody is just so damn catchy! Shawn Reynaldo
8. Caribou "Odessa"
The first time we heard Caribou's first single from Swim, we were immediately struck by how weird the album opener sounded; that strange jungle squawk, squelching bassline, and hyper-compressed dance beat were not at all what we expected from producer Dan Snaith. Then we kept listening, again and again, and the psychedelic funk of "Odessa" grew on us to a point nearing obsession. It became apparent that the subversive tune was the best and catchiest track from Snaith's wild psych-pop album, which he put front and center for all to admire (a.k.a. dude let his freak flag fly). Patric Fallon
7. Guido "Mad Sax"
Saxophone solo + Dubstep? The formula may not look good on paper, but it's hard to argue with what this young Bristolian cooked up. "Mad Sax" was the standout track from his excellent full-length debut, Anidea, and with its head-nodding hip-hop beat, emotive synths, and one of the most alien-sounding saxophone melodies in history, the song repeatedly riled dancefloors and, perhaps more tellingly, was extremely difficult to dislodge from one's brain. Shawn Reynaldo
6. Deadboy "If U Want Me"
Scotland's Numbers imprint certainly had a strong 2010, and a multitude of the label's tunes were in the running for this list. In the end though, Deadboy's "If U Want Me" came out of top. Between the shuffling percussion, bouncing bass, the synths that slowly swell and recede, and the chopped vocals which playfully pop in and out of the proceedings before exploding in a rave-like burst, the London-based and R&B-obsessed beatmaker essentially (and infectiously) updated 2-step for a new generation. Shawn Reynaldo
5. Ramadanman "Glut"
Ramadanman flat-out owned 2010, and what's most exciting is that he did it while mining a whole new sound palette. We were already fans of his stripped-down, drum-loaded take on dubstep, but this year he dug deeper, most interestingly by experimenting with classic 808 sounds. In particular, "Glut" is a celebration of that vaunted drum machine, a deceptively simple track that in reality relies upon a litany of vintage drum sounds and an impeccable attention to detail. Add in the song's simple synth melody and vocal sample and you've got a tune that demands multiple listens. Shawn Reynaldo
4. Girl Unit "Wut"
MASSIVE TUNE. If this list was assembled based solely on the number of DJ rewinds, it's quite possible that "Wut" would have snagged the top slot. One of those tracks that DJs were practically salivating over in the months leading up to its release, the impact of "Wut" went well beyond the dancefloor, as its unique combination of crunked-out synths, drum-machine beats, and gloriously pitch-shifted vocals resulted in perhaps the most epic dancefloor anthem of the year. That said, it's also the tune that inspired dubstep producers everywhere to suddenly forsake wobble and "discover" house, 808 samples, and pitch-shifted bits of R&B lyrics. Nevertheless, Girl Unit remains a true innovator, and thankfully, by the time all the copycats have squeezed every last drop out of the "Wut" formula, he'll already be on to the next thing (if he isn't already). Shawn Reynaldo
3. James Blake "CMYK"
Of the three EPs that James Blake dropped in 2010, his first for the on-fire R&S label, CMYK, proved to be the defining of the bunch, its title track the producer's best song of the year. Blake is still working on the fringes of the whole "post-dubstep" thing on "CMYK," gradually introducing more of the R&B/gospel soul and vocal manipulations that would come to rule his later work. As we continue to hear more snippets of his forthcoming debut album, it seems like the artist is distancing himself further and further from anything resembling club productions, so we're pleased to have this memento of Blake's once strong proclivity for subwoofer grooves that rattle both your head and soul. Patric Fallon
2. Delorean "Grow"
There's something that hits you almost immediately when listening to Delorean's lush Subiza cut "Grow." Before the beat even drops, a subtle swell of filtered synths, ticking hi-hat sounds, and that gorgeous vocal sample set a mood that is both lovesick and love-soaked. The rest of the tune carries on with a heavier lean on the latter vibe, and finally hits a brilliant high point of dancefloor ecstasy in its last quarter, a movement that's had us grinning ear to ear since the first time we heard it. Pretty much all of the songs on Delorean's excellent album have that same affect on us, but something about the emotive and nearly transportive vibrance of the joyous "Grow" tune ranks it at the top of those nine blissful tracks. Patric Fallon
1. Mosca "Nike"
Yes, we know that "Nike" is the b-side from the "Square One" single. Yes, "Square One" is an amazing tune. (We did rank it the #27 track of the year, remember?) But there's just something... monumental about "Nike," and we're not simply talking about its length, which is admittedly kind of nuts at more than 10 minutes. Hell, even the "club edit" is more than eight minutes. Even for the most adventurous of dancefloors, "Nike" probably isn't going to be a club smasher, most notably because of its decidedly slower-than-house tempo, but that made its continued residence in our listening rotation over the course of 2010 all the more impressive. Credit the Night Slugs camp for including it as one-half of the label's opening salvo, as it helped clarify that the new imprint wasn't going to be about any one sound in particular. Over the course of the year, Mosca showed himself to be anything but shy about experimenting with different sounds and genres, but at the time of its release, "Nike" was a revelation. In truth, it almost sounds like three or four separate songs, as though it's a long piece with multiple movements. Without getting too touchy-feely about it, "Nike" is more like a sonic journey, one that touches on hip-hop, house, grime, techno, UK bass music, and even drum and bass (listen, it's there) while employing tropical drum sounds, neon synths, and AutoTuned vocals. "Square One" might have been the mission statement, but "Nike" was the track that really broke down barriers and shattered the limitations of what UK bass music should be and, more importantly, where it could go. Shawn Reynaldo
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