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2011 In Review: Albums, Record Labels and Music Videos

Albums

EDM is an unlikely medium for an album and, for that reason, very few full LP’s of electronic music ever really get released. It’s all about original singles and remixes. I mean, we can’t complain because, being that most producers release their music in that format, we’re always busy listening to new music and always can look forward to some new track by avid producers such as the likes of Skrillex or Tiesto to be released. This year we saw the release of a lot of EP’s and a few LP’s, most of which really brought us a lot of cool music. Here’s our coverage of our top 5:

Welcome Reality by Nero – Nero was already a huge favorite for us with their crushing essential mix from last year, incredible live shows and countless list of amazing singles. While their album featured several tracks that we already knew and loved (“Innocence”, “Me and You” “Guilt”, etc.), it was truly amazing to hear them all together along with several other gems (“Welcome Reality VIP”, “Must Be The Feeling”) strung together so seamlessly in perfect sequence. Plus, it featured their song “Promises” which is undoubtedly one of the biggest songs of the year. Nobody does dubstep like Nero and this album is proof positive.

The Spitfire EP by Porter Robinson -While this was technically an EP and we did try to only include LP’s on this list, the amount of content on this compilation would certainly qualify it to make our list. This fresh-out-of-high-school electro-house beast went from nothing to something in a mere couple months: he went from playing in the small Heineken Domes at Ultra in March to playing to a packed crowd of die-hard fans on one of the biggest stages at both EDC Vegas in June and Electric Zoo in September. With the release of this EP, he solidified his position as an innovator and creative genius. Highlights: “Vandalism”, “The Seconds” and his moombahton hit “100% In The Bitch”

Weekend In America by Wolfgang Gartner – From start to finish, this album was easily one of the most impressive of the year. Including songs that we already loved like “Space Junk” and “Illmerica”, songs we’d heard him play for the previous year prior to the release like “818″ and “Menagé a Trois”, and new goodies like “The Champ”, “Shrunken Heads” and “The Way It Was”. Every song is quality Wolfgang and you don’t have any idea how much you’re missing if you don’t have this one yet.

Fire and Ice by Kaskade – This double album by the new AMERICAN king of house music brought a lot of his sound to the masses with this album. The album features collaborations with major players like Dada Life and Skrillex and with his previous muses Skylar Gray and Haley and songs like “Eyes”, “Lick It” and “Turn Me Down” really show you what how talented and diverse this guy actually is.

Beatz and Pieces Vol.1 by Gramatik – A completely blissful LP through and through, which carries much the same swagger as Pretty Lights himself, with a more hip-hop influenced and laid-back vibe. Everybody should have this album in their collection considering it’s absolutely free. Check out: “While I Was Playing Fair”, “Like You Do”, and “The Drink Is Called Rakija”… plus every other song.

Record Labels

While not a lot of us really ever think of the label behind our favorite beats, certain labels deserve respect nonetheless for their releases which mark some of the biggest and best tracks to come around. This year, we saw the birth of Skrillex’s OWSLA label and the growth of a lot of others, as their music and legacy began to spread throughout the EDM community. Here’s the top 5 record labels we picked for 2011:

OWSLAFor whatever it’s worth, Skrillex is a boss. The fact that he is behind 7 releases, all of which made a major impact on the dance music community (and four of which were posted here) is a sign that not only can this guy make good music, he knows good music.

Dim Mak – I can’t speak for the rest of this blog but, in my personal opinion, Aoki doesn’t make the best music around. And if it wasn’t for his record label, I might write him off as a clown. But Dim Mak simply kills it.

anjunabeats - Providing some of the best trance and progressive house around. With Above & Beyond behind the wheels, label artists Arty and Mat Zo have released some of the best tracks of the year.

Pretty Lights Music – I mean, does it get any better than a label with all free music? Arists, just to name a couple: Gramatik, Paper Diamond, Break Science and… oh yeah… PRETTY LIGHTS.

Musical Freedom – Tiesto’s label most likely holds the crown for the most major releases of the year. The man himself was behind his own tracks “Maximal Crazy”, “Work Hard, Play Hard”, and “Zero 76″ and also supported the release of the Bassjackers’ “Mush Mush”, Sandro Silva & Quintino’s epic collaboration “Epic”, and Tommy Trash’s “Future Folk”. That’s just a few.

Music Videos

Like albums, music videos hadn’t become a very popular thing in true electronic music (with the notable exception of Daft Punk…) in the past but, lately, they are becoming an outlet for DJ’s and producers, who, for the most part, are far from celebrities, to express themselves and share a piece of their personality with all their fans. To date, we have been thoroughly impressed with the videos coming out lately and wanted to share five of our favorites.

Didn’t Get Tix to SHM @ MSG? It’s OK, It’s Finally Friday

Don't worry, I didn't get tix either...
Don't worry, I didn't get tix either...

Well, I’ve learned a lot from the Swedish House Mafia this week. Thanks to their Essential Selection I was able to discover a bunch of new tracks and learn about some new artists. I’ve also learned they have some clever people doing marketing and promotions for them. Yesterday the boys held a presale for their Madison Square Garden show on December 16, and according to the Facebook Event it sold out in 40 minutes. The original plan was to release more tickets today for the normal on sale date but due to incredibly high demand the entire venue was scooped up yesterday. Now we can only wait and see what the next steps are going to be (world tour anyone??) Here is one of the tracks that stood out to me from SHM’s Essential Selection – some disco house and it’s FUNKY AS HELL:

Serge Devant – 3AM Eternal (Zoltan Kontes remix)

Also from the Essential Selection we see the boys premier and mix DJ DLG’s “The Ritual” with Daft Punk’s “Superheroes”. Having never heard of DJ DLG, I did some research and came up with this awesome track from the American producer:

DJ DLG – Phoenix Rising

I think a lot of people are familiar with Lada Gaga’s “Judas” and to most EDM fans, you’re probably familiar with the many remixes of it (R3HAB and Thomas Gold to name a few). But have you heard the Chris Lake remix? I hadn’t either, and now I’m sucked in. Being a drummer myself what really gets me is the drum intro.

Lady Gaga – Judas (Chris Lake remix)

We all know Wolfgang Gartner’s first full-length album is out because we read the post about it here. While there are both highs and lows from the album, I think a lot of people agree the following track goes back to the older Wolfgang dirt we are used to (“Latin Fever” and “Fire Power” come to mind but that can be open to interpretation):

Wolfgang Gartner – Shrunken Heads

Calvin Harris is a rock star. Dillon Francis is the king of Moombahton. Let’s see what happens when they meet….

Calvin Harris – Feel So Close (Dillon Francis Remix)

Lastly, I went to the Mord Fustang show this past Tuesday in Boston. He opened up with the awesome Space Laces remix of “Ho’s & Disco’s” by Lucky Date, which we posted here. But, I found Zedd’s remix of the song and since he’s one of my favorite producers I had to post it.

Lucky Date – Ho’s & Disco’s (Zedd Remix)

BONUS:
After seeing Mord this week I wanted to find a mix he’s made because I was impressed with his overall set. Here’s one from half a year back, which spans the world from Electro House to Dubstep to Disco House…


Mord Fustang – Live In The Mix by Plasmapool

Ultra Music Festival 2012:
I just got an email saying that UMF Early Bird tickets go on sale tomorrow. Just $150 for a 3-day pass. I don’t even know if I’m going yet but this is an opportunity that I may not want to pass up (and you shouldn’t either). Tickets are only going to go up from there. For all things UMF, including the new trailer featuring Skrillex, click through.