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XLR8R's Best of 2014: Releases (30 - 16)

Although it's hard to deny that electronic music is still a genre where single tracks are dominant, that doesn't mean there's no room for long-form releases. In 2014, it felt like more artists were willing to try their hand at making substantial (i.e. longer) artistic statements, and while these efforts weren't always successful, it was interesting to see the electronic pendulum swing away from the notion that every tune has to be specifically engineered for the dancefloor. (Then again, plenty of producers turned in full-lengths where every track was made for the club; clearly, there is no single model being followed.) Admittedly, the sheer volume of new music that surfaced on a daily basis often made it difficult to really dig in to albums, or even EPs, but a handful of releases did manage to stick out, prompting repeat listen after repeat listen. As such, today's installment of our ongoing Best of 2014 series focuses on our favorite releases of the year. (For the sake of clarity, we consider a "release" to be anything with more than one original song on it.) Much like our breakdown of 2014's best tracks (which can be revisited here and here), many of our selections are rooted in house and techno, but this list is undeniably more varied; properly taking in a release requires an extended listening experience, and that framework leaves a lot more room for variation. Today's post unveils the first half of our favorite releases of 2014; the second half will arrive tomorrow. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2014: Gear

Here at XLR8R, we often find that our readers have as much passion for the music they love as they do for learning about the tools and techniques behind it, which is why we aim to provide a steady stream of insight for budding and experienced producers alike with our In the Studio, Artist Tips, and other gear-focused series. That's also why we've elected to close out the second week of our Best of 2014 coverage with a list of the top new pieces of gear to arrive this year. Whether these bits are valued for their innovative approach, jaw-dropping feature sets, impeccable sound, or are just hitting a unique sweet spot somewhere in between, these are the five pieces of production equipment that, for us, stood out above the rest in 2014. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2014: Tracks (25 - 1)

Yesterday's installment of our ongoing Best of 2014 series kicked off our countdown of the 50 best tracks of the year, so it only follows that today's chapter would take us all the way to number one. Much like yesterday's selections, our top tunes of 2014 are unquestionably dominated by house, techno, and other flavors of (mostly) four-on-the-floor dance fodder, but it's a testament to the artists involved that many of these tunes are just as enjoyable in the club as they are on headphones at home. Although much of our 2014 soundtrack was backed by the steady pulse of a kick drum, there's a lot of variation within these tunes; more importantly, there's a lot of quality music to be heard. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2014: Tracks (50 - 26)

Our Best of 2014 onslaught still has a ways to go, but it's quite possible that we've already arrived at the most anticipated installment of the series. After all, the electronic music world has long been dominated by tracks (as opposed to albums), and even now, in an era when more and more artists are dedicating themselves to albums and other long-form releases, it's hard to deny the power of a quality tune. In that spirit, our editorial team has compiled a list of what we think are the year's 50 best tracks, the first half of which we're presenting today. (The second half will be unveiled tomorrow.) Looking over the list, there's no question that house and techno were at the forefront of our listening habits in 2014, but other sounds and styles did have an impact, and that's reflected in at least a handful of our selections. As we like to say every year, this round-up may not be a definitive "best" (after all, the whole list-making process is admittedly somewhat arbitrary), but it does represent the tracks that we found ourselves listening to the most in 2014. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2014: Podcasts

When people talk about XLR8R, there's a good chance that our podcast series is going to be part of the conversation. Simply put, it's one of our calling cards, which is why we do our best to be especially selective when curating the mixes from week to week. It's not easy to stand out in a world where just about everyone has a mix series, but we take pride in the fact that our podcasts continue to be some of the most popular content on the site. During 2014, we featured nearly 50 exclusive mixes, covering a wide variety of artists, styles, and sounds. Some were geared toward the club, while others offered abstract listening experiences. Some found artists digging deep in their record collections, while others consisted of nothing but unreleased material. This diversity wasn't exactly unexpected; after all, when it comes to the XLR8R podcast, there are very few rules that we expect artists to follow. Still, it doesn't make choosing our favorite mixes any easier. Nevertheless, we've gone back and selected the 10 mixes that left the biggest impression on us in 2014, and for good measure, we've also included a breakdown of the year's 10 most popular podcasts. As it happens, the two lists have a lot of overlap. Read more » 

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