Thursday, January 5, 2012

Arnie Becker's best of 2011

So, the most important post of the year I guess. Every year it's the same thing; you want to cram together all your current favourites while at the same time try to remember what you listened to a year ago. 2011 was a year where classic French rock electro continued its decline (somebody forgot to tell Justice, who made an all-out rock album), and the mid-80s synth disco pastels faded into the later 80s and early 90s house and the earlier deep disco.

Do I like this development? Well, do I like deep basslines? Yeah! Do I like crude handclaps? You bet! Do I like house piano? Hell yeah! You might notice all of this on my list. And if you hadn't figured out that I'm the one with the house/techno background and Jonny the one with the indie background, I think our lists reveal that. That said, we of course have a lot of favourites on each others lists.

And now for the mandatory complaints about how hard it has been to decide on the list. 2011 was a good year as evidenced by a shortlist for the top 25 of well over 80 tunes, so there are a lot of people who probably deserve an honourable mention. It was also difficult to pin down the very top of the list, with probably all of the top five or ten topping at some point. Anyway, here it is!

#25. Birkii - Shade Of Doubt
Birkii was one of the great discoveries through Kitsuné. Funky and cute as a button at the same time. Birkii's voice reminds me a lot of 60s singer Nico (whose song "These Days" plays while Gwyneth Paltrow exits the bus in "The Royal Tenenbaums"). Lovely verse and lovely bridge.

Birkii - Shade Of Doubt (320 kbps)

#24.Sneaky Sound System - Big (Oliver Remix)
2011 was a great year for Oliver. The Cerrone 'cover' "Memories Of The Future" was a huge track, as was "Footsteps". Their Penguin Prison remix was great too, but in the end I went with their remix of Sneaky Sound System that we put to good use through the year.

Sneaky Sound System - Big (Oliver Remix) (320 kbps)

#23. Alex Winston - Sister Wife (Moonlight Matters Remix)
The Belgian disco wonder continued their quest of world domination. Moonlight Matters' remix of Alex Winston combined a nice original with some funky bass and intense strings.

Alex Winston - Sister Wife (Moonlight Matters Remix) (320 kbps)

#22. Cavaliers of Fun - GOLD
Holographic People had a good début year with a string of great releases from great artists. My favourite was Cavaliers of Fun's album, and on that the make out electro song "GOLD", which also will be one of the few slow dance tracks on this list.

Cavaliers of Fun - GOLD (320 kbps)
(Exclusive present to our dear readers from Cavaliers of Fun!)

#21. Munk - Rue De Rome (Cécile Remix)
At Gomma it was business as usual, the German label being a standard bearer of high-quality disco. One of our favourite acts from them, Munk, had one of our favourite albums and favourite singles released, and the "Rue de Rome" single came with a bunch of great remixes. My favourite was by Cécile.

Munk - Rue De Rome (Cecile Remix) (128 kbps)
(buy the full quality version here)

#20. Electric Youth - Fade Away
Hopefully the inclusion on the "Drive" soundtrack will help Electric Youth reach a wider audience - they're well worth it. "Right Back To You" was a great single, but I actually preferred the B-side "Fade Away". Great Hi-NRG pop with nice hooks and a nice break.

Electric Youth - Fade Away (320 kbps)

#19. Chilly Gonzales - You Can Dance (Robotaki Remix)
Chilly Gonzales' "You Can Dance" was one of the singles of the year with a lot of great remixes (Fare Soldi, Edwin Van Cleef and Gemini Club for example). My favourite was that by young Canadian Robotaki who followed up his massive remix of Kavinsky's "Nightcall" from last year.

Chilly Gonzales - You Can Dance (Robotaki Remix) (320 kbps)

#18. Chad Valley - I Want Your Love
Already we're up to the second, and last, slow dance of my list. Well, slow for my standards anyway, since it has a certain beat to it. At any case Chad Valley has made a beautiful song that I think would work both in a symphony orchestra version or covered by someone like Björk.

Chad Valley - I Want Your Love (320 kbps)

#17. Joakim - Forever Young
Joakim always makes great music with some sort of twist to it. "Forever Young" from his excellent "Nothing Gold" album is like soundtrack of a an artsy 60s French movie played by a marching band. Nothing like his "Drumtrax" but just as good!

Joakim - Forever Young (320 kbps)

#16. Strange Talk - Eskimo Boy
Strange Talk was another great Kitsuné find from last year who make awesome indie dance in the Phoenix-mould. The self-titled debut EP was delayed to this year, but it was worth the wait. I really like all the tracks, and since "Climbing Walls" is disqualified after its Kitsuné release last year, I picked "Eskimo Boy".

Strange Talk - Eskimo Boy (285 vbr)

#15. Mercury - You Lift Me Up
I've been on and on about 90s house during the year. I've usually meant the very early 90s or very late 80s. Mercury's excellent is a little less retro, the cleaner sounds and bouncing rhythm sounds more 1998 than 1990, and makes me want to pull out all my old Nite Grooves and Nervous vinyls.

Mercury - You Lift Me Up (128 kbps)
(Buy the full-quality version here)

#14. New Look - Janet
New Look's "Janet" is a great electropop (or should I say electro-R'n'B?) song. The intro and the beat sounds like something Jellybean Benitez or Arthur Baker/John Robie could have made in 1983. That coupled with great vocals makes another great find of 2011.

New Look - Janet (320 kbps)

#13. Kamp! - Cairo
We've been on and on about Kamp! for a long time, almost since we started the blog. We were fortunate enough to tag along with them through Poland, where we learned they're not just a great studio band, but an awesome live band as well. One of our favourite songs was "Cairo", which was the song they used to start off the show with. That made us happy when it was picked up by Discotexas, who deservedly gave the band a bigger platform than their own Brennessel netlabel. We can't wait to bring them to Stockholm this spring!

Kamp! - Cairo (128 kbps)
(Buy the full-quality version here)

#12. Hannulelauri - Europa
There seem to be few people in the world who can gel together disco and progressive house in such an awesome way as our dear brothers in the east - the Finns. I'm thinking of people like Michael Cassette, Helsinki 78-82 and of course Hannulelauri who made great remixes of Headman, Processory and Jupiter, as well as some great originals. "Europa" was my favourite.

Hannulelauri - Europa (128 kbps)
(Buy the full-quality version here)

#11. Cut Copy - Pharaohs & Pyramids
Cut Copy was finally back with a new album. As a huge fan I was a little disappointed with it, but then again, hoping for another album like "In Ghost Colours" was always some pretty high expectations, and after all I think "Zonoscope" is a good album. And "Pharaohs & Pyramids" was Cut Copy in great old form.

Cut Copy - Pharaohs & Pyramids (320 kbps)

#10. Pacific! - Unspoken (Anoraak Remix)
I like how Anoraak always makes his tunes in a distinct wedge shape; slow beginning, and then it builds and builds, layer after layer. That makes for perfect intro tracks. His Pacific! remix is a case in point; it starts off with a simple guitar chord, a lush synth and the delicate vocals from the original. Halfway through it kicks into disco gear with a nice galloping beat.

Pacific! - Unspoken (Anoraak Remix) (320 kbps)

#9. Noah and the Whale - Life Is Life (Yuksek Remix)
Yuksek totally changed Noah and the Whale's "Life is Life" from a pretty sleepy pop track to a disco feast with it's hammering synth and funky disco boogie bass.

Noah and the Whale - Life Is Life (Yuksek Remix) (320 kbps)

#8. Xinobi - Hawaii
Xinobi was responsible for one of the party tracks of 2011. Also one of the few tracks that actually don't need more cowbell. We played a lot with our friends La Petite Putain over the year, and we used to have a competition on who played "Hawaii" first. The result was always a frantic dancefloor.

Xinobi - Hawaii (128 kbps)
(buy the full quality version here)

#7. Gotye ft Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know (RUFUS Re-edit)
Gotye and Kimbra's duet was one of the most beautiful songs of the year. When Kimbra's voice comes in in the second verse it always gives me goosebumps. But dance music fan as I am, I actually prefer RUFUS' edit over the original.

Gotye ft Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know (RUFUS Re-edit) (320 kbps)

#6. Mark Ronson - Record Collection 2012 (Perseus Remix)
Not only did Leon of Perseus run one of the best labels of 2011 - French Express - somehow he managed to make some excellent remixes and originals too. We could easily have added a couple of Perseus tracks more, but in the end I went for the Mark Ronson remix.

Mark Ronson - Record Collection 2012 (Perseus Remix) (320 kbps)

#5. The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love? (Populette Remix)
The Rapture's "How deep is your love?" was another epic tune with a million awesome remixes thanks DFA's remix competition. But my favourite was still the Populette remix on the EP. Only problem is that it's so short.

The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love? (Populette Remix) (192 kbps)

#4. Tensnake - Something About You
Tensnake made one of the tracks that I have danced to the most during the year. It's also an interesting track in that most other tracks have at least two peaks while this is more like one long build-up to the (that's right) house piano drops, and then it ends. But what a piano!

Tensnake - Something About You (128 kbps)
(buy the full quality version here)

#3. Niki and the Dove - Mother Protect (Goldroom Remix)
Goldroom is another renaissance man. We've been huge fans of the Binary crew for a long time: the blog, the label and the music collective. What we didn't know was that the producer who would be our favourite was the one running most of it, and who to our knowledge didn't make music himself. Well, this year Josh really stepped out of the shadows.

Niki and the Dove - Mother Protect (Goldroom Remix) (320 kbps)

#2. Jonas Rathsman - Tobago
One of the most hyped up tracks of the year. Jonas Rathsman's entry on the French Express 2 compilation with its Alexander O'Neill sample bode well, but hearing this on The Magician's Magic tape really made our mouths water. With a sound so calory rich so you can feel the heart clogging up, spiced up with some summery tropical disco and nice use of samples, this was really close to the top spot.

Jonas Rathsman - Tobago by French Express

#1. Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix)
Picking a number one was hard this year, but speaking of The Magician, in the end I went with his remix of the blog Queen from a couple of years back: Lykke Li. He turned a good pop song into a proper dancefloor anthem that sums up 2011 perfectly with the disco and retro house currents combined - of course including house piano! It's no coincidence that both me and Jonny chose a The Magician track as number ones on our respective lists - he really had a great year.

Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix) (320 kbps)

RAR #1: Arnie Becker's best of 2011 Part I (tracks 1-12)
RAR #2: Arnie Becker's best of 2011 Part II (tracks 13-25)


UrbanismUF said...

Arnie, will you be posting the zip file to download the list? this fan of yours from South America will greatly appreciate it!

Sebastian/Arnie B said...

The Rars are uploading as I write, so I'll add them soon. Mediafire is working at maximum capacity!

Connor said...

Can I just say I love your choice with the Sneaky Soundsystem add, but the John Dahlback remix of Big is by far the best thing I've heard remix-wise of this song and probably best remix all year minus the Avicii remix of the Phonat song, but that's not this year.

UrbanismUF said...

Arnie, cheers for uploading the file.

D said...

none of the links are playing??

Sebastian/Arnie B said...

D, they're working for us. But if you or anyone else still have any problem, mail us!

D said...

Thanks, Arnie. All good now! I think it was something w/ my browser.. Great recap btw.

Pedro said...

Great list, and thanks for the downloads! Although they seem to be missing track 2, Jonas Rathsman - Tobago by French Express. Is there anyway it can be uploaded?

Sebastian/Arnie B said...

Jonas Rathsman - Tobago is missing since we don't have permission to share it for free. It's a great track though, and both the label boss and Jonas are nice guys, so Tobago is really worth buying for 1.50 EUR or 2 USD or whatever it costs! ;)

dvdjamm said...

He probably didn't like the fact that you said he sampled Luther Vandross when he sampled Alexander O'Neal :P

Sebastian/Arnie B said...

dvdjamm: Oh man! I realized I made that mistake and I thought I'd changed it! FML. +1 internet for you for pointing that out so I can change it and not come off as an idiot!

Anonymous said...

Download for Part 1 does not work anymore !!
Could you please fix it !

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