This time last year I was writing the preamble and talking about a new job and buying a new house. A year later I’m back living the bachelor flat life. Life is a funny old thing, isn’t it? Bumps in the road all over the shop. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all those other clichés!? In other news I turned 40, had a fantastic trip to NYC, along with a family trip to Ibiza, celebrating my folks 60th birthdays, my Uncle’s 50th and my little brothers 30th, showing that the White Isle really is an island for all. Oh and I actually bought a new car after 13 years of having a girls car. Not a terrible year, but I won’t be sad to see the back of it and look forward to what 2016 brings.
Top Ten House Tracks
Fono – Real Joy
This track was one of those instant tracks for me and I’ve rinsed it out this year, especially the Chris Lake remix, that I didn’t really think would turn out to be some bumpy UKG like banger.
Waterson – Tell Me (KDA Dub)
Quite a new release, but what a tune and what a remix by KDA, who I’ve ended up being a bit of a Stan about this year, but if you checked his body of work, you’ll see why.
Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit (Claptone Mix)
I’ve been a fan of Gregory Porter for a few years now, I just love his tone of voice and this Claptone mix managed to turn his sultry tone into a soulful house groover.
Gorgon City – Imagination (Weiss Mix)
This remix by Weiss aka as scene stalwart Richard Dinsdale, has some real heavyweight driving drums and was definitely up there for consideration for remix of the year for me.
Jonas Rathsman – Wolfsbane
I thought this was going to be this year’s ‘Walking With Elephants’ and end up in the national chart, but alas it didn’t happen and for such a huge tune, it seemed to tail off a little. It was still such a massive tune IMO.
Disclosure – Bang That (Kevin & Dantiez Saunderson Mix)
In its original guise this was Disclosure’s first new piece of music for a few years and a precursor to their second album ‘Caracal’. If I’m honest, I was underwhelmed however this remix switched it right up and I ended up playing this loads this year.
Mele – Ambience
I’d say this was 2015’s version of Ninetoes ‘Finder’ pure sunshine vibes and uplifting percussion, where you can’t fail to shake a leg to it, unless you’re dead inside?
Rudimental feat. Will Heard – I Will For Love (Sonny Fodera Mix)
I think it’s fair to say it’s been a pretty damn decent 2015 for everyone involved in this remix. Fantastically housed up by Defected’s man of the year, surely?
Blonde feat Alex Newell – All Cried Out (The Magician Mix)
This track is pure hands in the air, piano fodder for the gyal dem, but I don’t care. The top line is killer and I was singing it (badly) before the tune was finished, the first time I heard it.
Format B – Chunky
Format B have been around yonks and managed to score a crossover hit with this track, which had a quirky vocal about roosters. Not your usual lyrical content for a house banger admittedly.
Best DJ Gig
I really enjoyed Kinky Malinki’s 17th Birthday Party at Ministry of Sound this year. I played in the bar and was thoroughly entertained by the other DJs on before me, being Jess Bays and Curtis Gabriel. It was one of those gigs where those previous sets had really got me going, along with the bottle of vodka I was unexpectedly (but appreciatively) given.
Zoo Project Ibiza
I didn’t smash it up too hard in Ibiza this year. Understandably so on a family holiday. I did manage to get to a few of my usual spots, but one thing I popped my cherry with and enjoyed so much, was the Zoo Project. No huge focus on big name DJs, a great setting, with a crazy colourful animal painted crowd, where you can’t fail to smile and dance.
Best House Album
Huxley – Blurred Love
There have been some great house music artist albums this year. I’ve often been critical of them in the past as they either have lots of filler around a few singles, or lack any real direction but this year Noir, Catz & Dogz, Till Von Sein and George Fitzgerald but I think Huxley just pips it past the post with a cohesive, but varied selection of tracks.
Vaults – Premonitions (KDA Mix)
I mention further down this ‘year in review’ that KDA’s beat are badass and none more prevalent than on this remix of the vocally haunting Vaults track. It originally came with some solid remixes anyway, but then the KDA mix was part of Annie Mac’s Free Music Monday and you can get it for yourself below, if you so wish?
Top Ten Non-House Tracks
Josef Salvat – Hustler (Solomun Mix)
Over the years of compiling this yearly review,I’ve taken liberties with the non-house selection and I’m doing it again. Strictly speaking, it is house music, but not something I’d get the chance to play out, so it ends up topping the pile here, as it’s just a great piece of production all round.
Bicep – Just
Eek, I’ve done it again!! My website, I can make the rules up surely? It’s one that I’m going to have to show you, so that you can hear quite how good this is. If I heard this tune in a club and I was a tad wonky, it would be like winning a musical lottery
Drake – Hotline Bling
This tune has to be in every DJs chart of the year for something or the other surely? Crappest dance moves? Best back off in a video? Catchiest song of the year? Whatever, you couldn’t escape it PLUS I love it.
Ane Brun – Shape Of The Heart (La Fleur Mix)
I literally have ZERO idea what Ane Brun is actually singing in this, but rest assured I’m trying to sing it in my head whenever I play/hear this tune.
Julio Bashmore feat. Sam Dew – Holding On
The year loads of decent artists called a song ‘Holding On’ in the space of a few months. This disco infused number from Bashmore was my favourite and probably the best cut off his debut album too?
Grades – Owe It To Yourself (Beyond Paradise Mix)
Starts off like some Toni Braxton ballad, then turns in to some sort of boogie x modern R&B niceness.
Lxury feat. Deptford Goth – Square1
To my (rather large) ears, you can recognise the Lxury drum programming pretty easily and I recall hearing this for the first time thinking it’s gotta be a Lxury jam and low and behold it was, and a great little track it is too.
Roisin Murphy – Exploitation (Falco Benz Mix)
I’ve always been a fan of Roisin’s inimitable voice and she’s the winner for strangest album title of the year with ‘Hairless Toys’ (possibly??), with this track, in its original guise, being one of the standout tracks, however this twist up by Falco Benz really stands out for me.
Zak Abel – Alchemy
Joker brought out quite an ‘interesting’ album towards the end of the year, which was heavy on movie soundtrack kinda vibes, but before that, he dropped an EP with Zak Abel, who I think is on to big tings in 2016, and the standout was this garage tinged number.
Tom Misch – Sunshine
I was put on to Tom Misch via his Beat Tape 2 album, then I found this little beauty. A simplistic topline and a nice guitar lick combine to make one of those tunes that actually make you feel good when listening.
Best Non-House Album
HNNY – Sunday
My year may not have been quite so blessed in general, but musically it sure as hell has been. Dre finally dropped some new material. Kendrick dropped a new album. Rudimental and Disclosure followed up both of their huge debuts with solid efforts. All in all I was spoiled for choice. However my choice of album of the year has to be this laidback offering from the mysterious HNNY. You can stick this on, shut your eyes, listen to it in it’s entirety and just not GAF about a thing
Best DJ Mix
Lee Foss – Mixmag Lab LA – December 2015
I don’t have too much of an opinion on Lee Foss, which may be a surprise to many who think I have a strong opinion on absolute everything, but I was ‘easy come, easy go’ with him until I was sent this mix by a workmate the other day and was instantly transfixed by his mix……and the dork dancing to the side of him too, in signs reminiscent of most Boiler Room dancing divs.
This one is pretty easy, and makes DJ Sneak and his constant whinging (yes, even more than mine!) seem insignificant in contrast. This year’s biggest buffoon, is Ten Walls, who had a tremendous fall from grace after one vitriolic homophobic rant online. He went from national charting, festival playing, DJs worshipping, to NOTHING in a very short space of time. Let that be a lesson, that there really isn’t a place for that behaviour or mind set in house music, when, at its core, it is music for ALL and had its formative years firmly rooted in the gay scene.
2015 was definitely the year that everyone felt comfortable with saying they enjoyed listening to Justin Bieber. He still seems like an absolute douche, and I’m definitely NOT a Belieber,but musically, he wormed his way in to everyone’s subconscious with his Diplo/Skrilex collab and then went on to further world domination by getting a world record amount of singles in the UK chart.
This year’s moment was another football based occurrence and another that came about with my links in with the guys at Method Records (Disclosure’s record label). What started off as a 5-a-side tournament amongst record labels, including Black Butter and Warner, ‘coached’ by footballing legends including John Barnes, Dennis Wise and Peter Shilton, eventually led to me standing in for Peter Shilton (as he was way past the age of flinging himself around for LOLZ now) for the Legends team against Black Butter who were eventual tournament winners. I know it may not seem much to many, but it was for me, as I’d grown up idolising Shilton and even though it was a fun kick around to round off a great day of football for charity, it made a 40 year old man child rather happy.
Jamie Woon @ The Scala
Although I was spoilt for choice with the albums, I haven’t been to too many gigs this year. There is one that really stood out and if I’m honest I wasn’t expecting much, even though I loved Jamie Woon’s debut album Mirrorwriting. As much as I enjoyed it, I thought it may well be a real laidback affair at the Scala. As much as it obviously wasn’t a mosh pit fest, it was a fantastic concert and what Jamie lacks in song break banter, he makes up for in musicianship.
As you creep towards the end of the year you get some of the Oscar efforts being released, but the movie I’ve plumped for was out earlier in the year, however should have a Best Actor Nomination for its star Colin Farrell. The Lobster sounds absolutely bonkers on paper and is equally bonkers on the screen, but if you love the types of movie Wes Anderson or Michel Gondry make, this is an absolute MUST SEE movie
I went to NYC expecting to be blown away by the crep selection. I’d told myself I could get 3 / 4 pairs as a 40th birthday treat to myself, but I only came back with 2 pairs. Places like Flight Club are way overpriced. The Nikelab store on Mercer didn’t have anything there I couldn’t get in London and the sales assistant actually asked me about the AM98s I had on, which were a US release only and he’d missed them apparently! I did walk away from the Big Apple with a nice pair of Jordans though and not your normal AJ fodder, these were the smart looking Jordan Westbrook 0s, which are tidy enough to fool archaic Essex bouncers in to thinking they aren’t really trainers. Idiots.
Tips For The Future
You may say it’s not much of a tip after having a UK No.1 but bear with me…….KDA has only really released remixes prior/post having a smash with Rumble. If you listen to his remix work, you can’t pinpoint an exact blueprint, but his drums get me every time and I’m pretty sure he’ll be dropping plenty of original material in 2016.
As for an actual musician I was going to go with Jack Garrett but I think that’s too obvious, so I’ll go with Honne, who I’m really digging and hope I can get to see live soon, as I’m loving their futuristic R&B flavours but with a heavy leaning of pop appeal.
Have a great 2016 ya’ll. Much Love, GRx