2013 marks the 5th year anniversary of doing my best of mixes recommendation - that's more consistency than the 87 other music projects I've started, but failed to continue beyond a year. I've been telling folks that I think 2013 has been a really exciting year for underground music. I think the pendulum has swung back in the direction of more traditionally pop structured songs with feature vocalists, but with genre staying liberally unboxed. Perhaps the best thing that came out of the dubstep/trap era was the focus on low end elements - new techniques to beef up and bottom out sub-bass have made their way into housier styles of music. Think Duke Dumont, Disclosure, Bondax, Star Slinger, Gorgon City and how they've paired up with virtually unknown soundcloud vocalists and made massive dance floor hits. A good read on this topic is XLR8R's "Pop Goes the Dancefloor."
If it's not obvious, the mixes I tend to pick have qualities I try to emulate in my own DJ sets. Admittedly 2013 was a poor year of releasing material despite my best intentions. Sad as it is, I need external deadlines to force me to focus on music since I have a hard enough time trying to keep my Downloads folder from looking like Armageddon. That said, I do have a plan to keep that shit in order this year, so expect a more productive year on the Jules Juke front.
As usual, ordered by release date:
I don't listen to Annie Mac with the regularity that I use to, but Annie remains my favorite go-to gal for the best exclusives in UK based dance music. If I wasn't paralyzed with horror at the sound of my own voice, I would totally kill to have her job. I especially love the 5 minute minimixes on her show because it forces all her guests to really dig for the best of the best. I've seen ridiculous amounts of track sampled for a 5 minute mix (Madeon used an impressive 95 songs last year!), but for me the sweet spot seems to be about 25-30 songs. Samples play long enough to be recognized, but only the really iconic parts are mixed. One of my favorite producers in the world, Russ Chimes, did a minimix early in 2013 that pretty much had me shitting myself with excitement for an entire week. For some reason the track selections in his Expressway series haven't impressed me as much as the first mixtapes he demoed back in 2009, but this mix gave me #thefeels. It probably helps that at least a quarter of the tracks are RC remixes or originals, but I've always loved Russ's mashups and the way he chooses his transition phrasing. This minimix is a nice return to what I loved about his 2009 tapes.
Brenmar is back! The NYC native debuted on my best-of list last year in 2012 and he continues to be a force to be reckoned with! Bill calls his style "club music for the present," which is a nice change of pace from all the producers throwing around the "future whatever" tagline. The irony is that I can't be arsed to figure out how something "future" in 2013 will still sound "future" in 2016, yet Brenmar makes "club music for the present" that seems to be more timeless than anything too obsessed with breaking the next new sound. Maybe it's his knack for sampling bangin' 90s/00s RnB jams and rerubbing them into underground club floorfillers, but this guy is a cut above the rest, imo. And check that tracklist! 40% Brenmar exclusives + CJ Milli drop$ + some of the illest harmonic transitions you ever done heard! DJ envy peak!
Listening to this mix brought a big stupid smile to my face. Technically this came out in 2012 when Flight Facilities were the October triple j Mix Up residents, but technicalities are for lawyers and good mixes transcend time, so let's move on and talk about how FF one-upped the entire game with this residency! If you want the detailed account, be sure to check their exhaustive blog post about the amount of work & research that went into the 4 mixes, 4 decades concept - it really is worth a read, if only to psych yourself up for the ridiculous awesomeness of their effort! I honestly enjoyed the entire series of tapes - FF made really great track selections - but the '02-'12 tape stands out to me because it channels the era of music that really got me hooked on the electronic underground. I have so much love & respect for the Bang Gang/Discodust era of french touch/nu disco artists! Being an electronic music baby at the time, I remember experiencing most of these artists purely through the blogosphere (eee! 128kbps downloads!) as they were DJing mostly overseas. I longed to be part of the London/Paris based parties where the audience came specifically to hear this type of music, so instead I turned to bedroom DJing in an attempt to connect further with the sound I had fallen in love with. If you were privy to my KUPS shows back in 2009, you can definitely hear how this style of music influenced everything I was playing on air.
2. Paradisco - Minimixes (2013) [15:00]
I'm kind of cheating on this selection, but I honestly cannot pick ONE mix above them all. Back in August, I discovered the awesomeness that is Les Loups' Paradisco events. Paradisco is a Hannover, Germany-based disco party thrown by production trio Les Loups that specializes in hosting a roster of artists known for their french touch roots. The names that have come through for this party are top shelf acts including: L'Etranger, Kartell, Moon Boots, FKJ, Monte and Knight One. Each 10-15 minute demo mixed by Les Loups features remixes and originals solely from a specific artist or label. Because this genre is my main wheelhouse, I don't really come across setlist surprises, but studying the transition techniques is always enjoyable since mixing in only one artist's discography is usually pretty limiting and forces you to take some creative risks. Anyway, if you're a fan of daytime disco definitely get on these tapes for some earcandy!
Toronto's J-Lah dropped on my radar in the weeks leading up to 2014. If you like b-more/jersey club/ghetto house/trap/2-step then you'll love the brand of bang J-Lah is bringing to the underground clubs. I'm especially impressed with how effortlessly he blends several genres and tempos but still remains highly accessible and danceable. His edits and remixes do a nice job of bringing together all the genres he's DJs into one cohesive whole. Be on the lookout for this guy to blow up in 2014!