Three weeks in the making we finally present you with Harder Blogger Faster’s best of 2015.
Instead of force-feeding you a load of different lists for albums, singles and mixes for an entire month – we decided we do just one list that covers the entire gamut of what we’ve been championing over the last 12 months both personally and professionally.
There’s no particular running order as trying to figure it out would be an exercise in futility. In reality every track we’ve posted over the 12 months we believe in – so everyone who has been featured on the blog is a winner in our eyes – but this list represents the tracks that consistently made an impact on us time and time again over the last 12 months.
On reflection I think we can all agree that 2015 has been a great year for music. So sit back and relax, and relive 2015 with some of the most awe-inspiring electronic music of the last 12 months, handpicked by our incredible group of contributors including James Trigo, James Brown, Shea Kopp and myself, Andrew Rafter.
I would personally like to thank you for all your support throughout 2015 – no matter how great or small – without you we simply wouldn’t exist, and we’re eternally grateful to anyone who has visited the site in the last 12 months.
You – alongside all the artists we’ve featured – are the real stars of 2015.
(We’ve had to split the list in 2 to shorten the loads on phones and tablets – part 2 is here.)
Para One – Elevation
In 2015, Para One announced that he has signed to Pedro Winters’ Ed Banger Records for his next album, which is expected next year. To celebrate the signing, the French producer gave away a stunning free track that features a South African choir no less, called ‘Elevation’, it’s easily one of the finest tracks of 2015, and cemented the French producer as one of the most exciting additions to Ed Banger’s roster in recent memory.
Aeroplane – Let’s Get Slow
Aeroplane made a big splash in 2015 with a brand-new single ‘Let’s Get Slow’ featuring the vocal talents of Benjamin Diamond, who famously sung Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’. For our money, it’s easily the strongest original productions we’ve heard from Vito De Luca for quite sometime. It oozes warm, summery vibes as fluorescent, silky disco synths wash over Diamond’s rousing, heartfelt vocals for the disco equivalent of prozac.
Roosevelt – Night Moves
Roosevelt’s ‘Night Moves’ features a proper vocal – not just a load of throw-away vocal loops spliced together, but an actual vocal – and that’s where it shines the most. That’s then countered against surging acid synth lines and sweeping basslines for a serious disco-groover. It’s near enough perfect.
Duke Dumont – Ocean Drive
Duke Dumont’s ‘Ocean Drive’ is an ode of 80s disco and potentially his finest track to date, and it was the producer’s first foray into the realms of disco. ‘Ocean Drive’ features everything you’d expect from a nostalgic trip back to the 80s; neon synths, a warm, airy vocals and plenty of Miami Vice vibes. Proof that Duke Dumont is a bonafide hit-maker.
The Chemical Brothers – Go
Despite sounding a lot like the duo’s ‘Galvanise’, The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Go’ is easily one of 2015’s biggest festival anthems. Q Tip’s contribution, again, is right up there, and the rest of the track offers a blend of bleeding-edge electro and commercial big-room that cemented the duo as one of the UK’s most consistent exports, throw in some headline slots at Glastonbury, Sonar and Creamfields and it was like the Chems of old.
Du Tonc – We Can Hold On
Du Tonc’s meteoric rise over the last couple of a years has been hugely impressive and what’s even more impressive is the quality of their output hasn’t change, if anything it’s gone up. With a track featuring in the latest Entourage film and an album all but complete and getting a release on Eskimo in early 2016, don’t be surprised if Du Tonc are back in our top tracks of 2016 again.
Boston Bun – Paris Groove
Boston Bun’s ‘Paris Groove’ is a throwback house track in the mould of Roule and Crydamoure’s pioneering output – but with a fresh, modern twist that thrust Boston Bun from the nearly man of Ed Banger Records to one of the label’s most innovative producers, throw-in a stunning vocal from Mayer Hawthorne and you’ve got one of 2015 finest crossover tracks.
Rex The Dog – Sicko
‘Sicko’, sonically, isn’t a million miles away from, say, Boys Noize’s ‘Ich R U’ – namely it’s made of slices of vocals turned into rhythms and then set against a snappy percussive backbone. On the face of it it sounds quite simple until you realise that Jake Willams has spent the last 2 years learning electronics to make his RTD-101 sampler which forms the heart of his new modular synthesiser that he used to make the tracks. ‘Sicko’ along with pretty much all of Rex’s productions in 2015 has thrust this canine duo back to upper echelons of dance music and we for one can’t think of anyone more deserving.
Alex Metric – Elev8
Alex Metric’s popularity in both the US and UK has seen the British-based producer cement his position as one of the most consistent producers and DJs on the circuit. His latest EP manages to touch upon every conceivable genre of note without the resulting EP sounding contrived or forced. It actually the most focussed and stripped-backed release from the Londoner and arguably his best to date. We could have chosen any number of tracks from the Londoner’s latest EP, but it’s his collaboration with Amtrac that stuck in our collective mind the most in 2015.
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face
Everyone loves a good earworm, and we’re no different at HBF. This year’s biggest earworm for our money came from The Weeknd, and his falsetto-infused ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. Easily the strongest track from the Canadian’s latest album, ‘Beauty Behind The Madness’. Since its release back in June this sleek slice of retro-modern disco-funk has been stuck in our ears for months, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be leaving anytime soon.
LifeLike – Overdrive
If there’s one producer who can herald in a new dawn of French House it’s going to be LifeLike. Released during the summer, the producer’s latest single, ‘Overdrive’, features everything we’ve come to expect from modern-sounding French House; aggressive synths, slamming drums and plenty of French attitude. With an album expected next year we’re betting that Laurent Ash will be at the forefront of a French House renaissance alongside the likes of Justice, SebastiAn and Para One in 2016 – and we for one can’t wait.
Marcus Marr – The Trouble With Us
Marcus Marr has a bit of a habit featuring in our end-of-year list. His single, ‘The Music’, topped multiple lists a couple of years ago, and his latest single ‘The Trouble With Us’, alongside Chet Faker, is going to do the same. And what a track, the combination of Faker’s intoxicating falsetto vocals, Marr’s masterful use of heavily-delayed melodies and the beat initially coming in just out of phase, makes ‘The Trouble With Us’ an exhilarating ride from start to finish.
Bicep – Just
Bicep’s ascension into the upper echelons of the house world in 2015 was helped, in part, by the duo’s track ‘Just’, which interestingly isn’t actually a house track, but a subtle breakbeat track that rides along on a bed of prickly, never-ending melodies. Throughout 2015, the duo have quickly become the UK’s most in demand DJs and producers, and have achieved this feat without ever compromising their sound or ethos.
Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do
In an age where everyone, ourselves included, is obsessed with new artists and new music, it was a peculiar sounding techno sleeper hit from Fatima Yamaha, ‘What’s A Girl To Do’, that managed to thrust itself into the collective consciousness of the dance world in 2015, where it became one of the biggest tracks of the year, some 11 years after its original release.
Miguel Campbell – The Night Life
It’s no exaggeration to say Miguel’s Campbell’s new album, ‘Night Drive Without You’, is easily one of 2015’s best disco records. Admittedly, he hasn’t had a great deal of competition. But across the 15 tracks Campbell’s touch is assured, and the collaborations on offer from the likes of Benjamin Diamond and Becc Lotts really add to the album’s depth. If we had to choose one track – which is really hard to do – it would have to be ‘The Nightlife’; a cool-as-ice cut of low-slung, neon-clad disco that’s neither showy or over-powering. Just like the album itself it’s a stunning piece of modern-sounding disco.
Hnny – You Feeling Alright
A very low-key number here, one that’s a firm fixture in my ‘Fake Night Tales’ playlist. Reminiscent of Mr. Scruff at his best, this track has a belter of a sample running through it that never seems to get old, no matter how often we hear it. Best heard at 5am, in the living room of someone you barely know.
Klangkarussel – Netzwerk – Super Flu Re-ding
We’re sneaking this one in on a technicality, since it’s only the Super Flu Re-ding that’s 2015 material. The track deserves to be in my list, though, with Super Flu having done a fantastic job removing the elements of the original that we thought pushed it into corny territory. The ‘re-ding’ is much more than an edit, more of a complete re-work, and in my eyes a much more rounded track.
Dilligas – What’s Good
Exactly what you’d expect from a Ciao Records release – total dirt – and massive fun, particularly when it starts to bounce toward the close. One for a city centre cruise with a massive sub in the boot, irritating everyone in hearing distance.
Mickey Pearce – Wam Barzz
This tune is all over the shop, and that’s why we love it. No regard for what works on the radio, no particular continuity, no strong narrative throughout the track – just a determination that you shouldn’t lose interest for even a single second.
Young Franco x Feki – Don’t Stop
Pure. Party. Gold. Nothing pretentious here, just a masterclass in how to write music specifically for the floor. If you want to learn how to make people move, take a listen to the hi-hat progressions in this track.
All We Are – Keep Me Alive (Lxury Remix)
We’ve been following Lxury’s rise with interest – we’re a big fan of the way he seems to have no regard for key structures, although his tracks can be a pain in the arse to mix with. This remix sums up what he does really well, and retains the playfulness that some of his solo productions lack.
Atelier Francesco – Akaino
If we had our way, all techno would have a hook. This track thunders along, all sub and gonads, till the mesmerizing vocals creep in almost unnoticed, utterly transforming the track.
Dance Cult – Holographic
Bit of a curveball with this one – it makes the cut because every time I play it out it gets the crowd moving. Seriously – try to keep your head still when that bassline kicks in.
Andhim – Domplatte
This one is all about the builds – a repeated slow burner, set off with a stretched vocal and sparse topline instruments. Never too busy, but always interesting, technically as well as sonically.
Drums Of Death – Calloutchaname
Originally available as a freebie, now available as part of the Annie Mac Sunshine Compilation, with all proceeds going to charity. There’s not a great deal going on in the track, but everything is beautifully selected – lovely warm chords that could have been plucked straight from Kid A, a fat analog bassline and a hypnotic, swimming vocal on repeat. Blissful.
Hayden James – Something About You
Sometimes lightning strikes twice, and that’s certainly the case for Hayden James’ ‘Something About You’ which arrives just two years after his massive ‘Permission To Love’. Past the track’s infectious lyrics, there’s something about irresistible about the rubbery synth lines and rhythm that makes this an instant dancefloor filler.
Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
If ever there was a return to psychedelic abandon, Tame Impala are leading the charge with tracks that sound like they’ve been pulled straight from an acid trip. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ overflows with reverb and heavily sustained chords to create a rich soundscape that blends effortlessly with lead singer Kevin Parker’s wind-swept croon, plus it’s got a sweet video to match.
Kenton Slash Demon – Harpe
As one of Future Classic’s newer signees, Kenton Slash Demon have already shaken up the label’s typically disco and house repertoire with a sound that fluctuates between techno, house, and breaks. ‘Harpe’ is a euphoric cut from the Copenhagen duo that’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to flying.
Galimatias & Alina Baraz – Fantasy
Few have made their mark this year quite like the team up between Galimatias and Alina Baraz with their smooth-as-butter breakout hit ‘Fantasy’. The track racked up millions of plays across Spotify and SoundCloud to eventually land the pair a deal with mega-label Ultra. Baraz’s honeyed vocals paired with Galimatias R&B-tinged production will make you miss a lover you’ve never even met.
George Fitzgerald – Full Circle
‘Full Circle’ is taken from George Fitzgerald’s first full-length album ‘Fading Love’ and the entire work is a fantastic benchmark for the UK producer’s growth since his start in 2010. Repeat vocal collaborator Boxed In‘s lyrics fit perfectly alongside Fitzgerald’s heavy-house cadence and swirling effects for a polished finish that blurs genre boundaries.
Ratatat – Cream On Chrome
Brooklyn-based rocktronica duo Ratatat made a powerful comeback this year after a five-year silence that had many questioning if maybe they had retired. ‘Cream On Chrome’ is an ambling number that, true to their iconic style, melds together multiple detailed guitar layers for a result that seems humanly impossible for two guitarists alone.
Mura Masa feat. NAO – Firefly
We’re not quite sure who had the better year between Mura Masa and NAO, so maybe their collaboration ‘Firefly’ is the best way to showcase the pair’s success. Of course, NAO is known primarily for her vocal drop on Disclosure’s ‘Superego’, but her delicate vocals seem best suited for Mura Masa’s playful, effects-laden style.
Club Cheval – Discipline
Club Cheval came back in a big way this 2015 to release both ‘From The Basement To The Roof’ and ‘Discipline,’ their first originals since 2012. Comprised of Bromance mainstays Myd, Sam Tiba, Panteros666, and Canblaster, Club Cheval is a dream blend of house, a healthy helping of R&B, and hip-hop. It’s a strange combination that the French seem to have perfected, and their rousing live show only reinforces that sentiment.
Lonely Boy – I Like Disco (Emperor Machine Disco To Do Special Extended Dub)
Picking just one of Emperor Machine track isn’t easy as the UK-based producer has been on fine form throughout 2015 – but it was his remix for Lonely Boy’s ‘I Like Disco’, released at the beginning of the year, that kept us coming back for more – we can’t resist those razor-sharp synths and brain-scrambling basslines.
Get A Room! – Agony & Pain
Easily the best track to get a release on Yuksek’s label Partyfine records in 2015, Get A Room’s ‘Agony & Pain’ was pretty much our go-to banger for the whole year. The track’s main breakdown hits like a howitzer and it showcases the duo’s versatility balancing driving electro and fizzing, shiny disco – easily one of France’s best kept secrets.
Public Service Broadcasting – Gargarin (Psychemagik remix)
Pyschemagik probably had their best year ever in 2015. They consistently delivered the goods throughout 2015 with home-run after home-run. Their remix of Public Service Broadcasting’s ‘Gagarin’ was one of many incredible remixes – but we decided to choose this particular one because it’s just a straight banger – proof that they are far more than just another “disco duo”.
Florence and The Machine – What Kind of Man (Nicolas Jaar Remix)
Normally renowned for his introverted, woozy style Nicolas Jaar let his hair down for his remix of Florence and The Machine’s ‘What Kind of Man’ turning the original into a sleazy slice of electro-clash, backed by Welch’s reverbed vocals and grainy percussion – there’s so much going on in fact the 12-minute runtime isn’t nearly enough.
FONO – Realjoy
The main selling point of FONO’s ‘Realjoy’ was the twisting, steely synth line – but there’s so much more going on. Combine it with a vocal that’s dripping with heart and soul – and this epic brain-melter quickly became a peak-time festival favourite throughout 2015 thanks to support from the likes of Skream, Zinc and Redlight. A proper house banger!
Read part 2 here.