[END OF YEAR] No Standing, Only Dancing – Best of House 2014
The past couple of years have been the most groundbreaking for electronic music since the eighties; this year, it seems as if those new fans were beginning to move beyond the “EDM” phase to the more cultured subgenres of the scene. No matter what your personal cup of tea is, we all love dance music because it gives us the same feeling: that soaring, hopeful sense of being infinitely alive.
When we picked House as our genre to cover, we didn’t realize in doing so that “house” is actually hard to define.It can be thought of as an of all-encompassing moniker for dance music, but we didn’t want to encroach on all the subgenres being covered. We decided to define house as anything but “EDM”, which spans deeper sounds to progressive, to electro and techno. Basically, we decided not to discriminate, because it’s all about the music, right?
So without further ado, here is our list (in non-discrimatory order, naturally) of House favorites from 2014:
10. Tube & Berger – Come on Now (Set it off)
While this track could be argued as either Deep House or House, we don’t need to get into the specifics of it. Whenever I hear tracks like this, I imagine myself in a dimly lit warehouse, packed with sweaty, swaying bodies unencumbered by the facades enforced by the more pretentious club on the other side of town. As you move into the bedroom later, you feel like you can strip down to your soul as your lingerie falls to the floor. Tube & Berger are masters of pure, sexy groove, but with a dark undercurrent that makes their house the kind that frees inhibitions and releases deep desires within. In that regard, the dominatrix/fetish music video is fittingly inappropriate, in the most appropriate way.
9. Oliver Heldens – Gecko
Oliver Heldens was everywhere in 2014, and it all started with this track. At age 17, Heldens became a massive name overnight when Tiesto released it on Musical Freedom and Pete Tong featured it on BBC Radio 1. While the young Dutch prodigee had been producing music for quite some time (seriously, is there something in the water in the Netherlands?), Gecko was his first, bold move away from Big Room and into something more funky and new, a “future house” sound that has become distinctly and uniquely his. Gecko was included in tons of sets this year, with countless remixes translated across genres. I’ll always remember EDC Vegas, when Mat Zo dropped the Gecko/Overdrive Matrix Futurebound remix. The night had been fun, but that bouncy, DnB-inspired remix threw me into a total dancing frenzy in a way that only good house can.
8. Deorro – Five Hours (Don’t Hold Me Back) ft. DyCy
I was convinced I would grow horribly sick of this track after hearing it endlessly on BPM. However, this vocal mix was a fresh take on the original that added the depth needed to take it to the next level. Deorro’s signature mixture of bounce-y progressive house was a blast on its own, but adding DyCy made the track one that shufflers and sing-a-long-ers alike can relate to. A SoCal favorite, Deorro’s set was one of the liveliest in the Sahara tent at Coachella despite his daytime slot in the midst of the desert heat. Although he announced that he was taking an indefinite break from DJing to focus on production and his family (kudos, bro), he is slated for another go around at Coachella this coming April. Regardless, Deorro certainly left a mark on 2014 with “Five Hours.”
“We found some time
To break each other hearts, yeah
You said don’t look back
And find a road to follow”
7. Don Diablo – “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran- Remix
I know, we did a double take at first, too. Don Diablo and Ed Sheeran wouldn’t exactly be the first dream-team collaboration we’d come up with either, especially for a song like “Don’t,” which rocks out at maybe 40 bpm. But that’s what makes this track so awesome. The Dutch producer made this chill, breezy/slightly-whiny boy song into a dirty house track that you can really get down to. It’s like he took all the pent-up anger and frustration contained in the original song and took it out on aggressive future house synths. Not to mention, it’s the number one track on Beatport’s House Top 100.
6. Axwell^Ingrosso – We Come, We Rave, We Love// Something New// Can’t Hold Us Down
What “Best of House” list would be complete without a track from the Kings of House themselves? At least two of them. 2013 was the year the Swedish House Mafia made headlines with their One Last Tour and break up. 2014 was the year they made headlines again when ⅔ of SHM, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, announced they’d be working together. (I guess it made for more PR to announce a dramatic break up instead of just booting one guy of the group, but I digress…) Axwell^Ingrosso debuted their new music at Governor’s Ball in New York City this past June, which is all to be part of their full-length album. Of course, so far it’s all fantastic, so I was hard-pressed to pick between the inspirational, uplifting track fittingly titled “Something New”, the more electro “Can’t Hold Us Down”, or the festival anthem “We Come, We Rave, We Love”, a SHM favorite re-released in 2014 under the new name (take that, Steve).
The best thing about all these tracks is that they are nostalgically classic, they take you back to the Swedish House Mafia days we all loved. SHM in LA was one of my first shows, and these new tracks give me that same incredible adrenaline and excitement I felt coursing through my veins their entire set, like the anticipation a runner gets those last few seconds before a race starts. The pounding beats, the build up that is almost sexual it’s so good, and then that unifying chant, “We Come, We Rave, We Love”, which has become a staple in our community, rallying us all until the drop descends and crashes on you like a tidal wave, sending the crowd into fucking oblivion. It’s those moments you actually feel invincible.
5. Alesso – Tear the Roof Up
Alesso has been touted as an up-and-coming big name for years now; he used to be neck-and-neck with Hardwell and Nicky Romero, before the former’s explosion into “Number One DJ” land and the latter’s relative career plateau.
Just when I thought Alesso was beginning to fade into mediocrity, he took to the decks at this year’s Coachella and destroyed the Sahara tent by opening with a track I had never heard before. It was distinctly Swedish House Mafia-esque and had a subtle progressive flair that reminded me of some Prydz tracks, but the combination of the two made it perfect for amping a crowd up in a festival setting. I remember my friends and I all exchanging glances that said “What…the…fuck?!” in the very best way possible.
Congratulations, Alesso–“Tear the Roof Up” was your inauguration to the big leagues in 2014.
4. Fehrplay – Pyara
This was one of my favorite progressive house tracks of the year, released by Fehrplay, the young prodigee of Eric Prydz. Though interestingly enough, Pyara wasn’t released on Pryda, it was released on Mau5trap. It’s completely fitting for Deadmau5’s label, but apparently this caused some beef…Regardless, it’s a quintessential, prog track that feels like a midnight drive through outer space. I can’t get enough.
3. Deep Dish – Quincy
Dubfire and Sharam went their separate ways, literally and musically, during their 8 year hiatus from being the duo Deep Dish. Dubfire ventured into techno and minimal house while Sharam journeyed to the more progressive side, so it’s no surprise that “Quincy” is the perfect combination of progressive and techno.
It was a very snowy March evening in DC, and after a weekend of spending long nights in deep house clubs, I was not at all tempted to go out one more time…until U Street Music Hall announced a surprise show with none other than Deep Dish spinning open to close. Well, fine, I could hang in there for a final round. As I descended the stairs to the basement club, I remember thinking “I’m not going to regret this,” and I was right. Their pre-Miami Music Week show was everything I hoped for from a veteran duo like Deep Dish–small venue, sparse crowd, minimal lighting, and deep, dark house all night long. Hearing “Quincy” toward the 4 a.m. end of their set was undoubtedly the high point of the night.
2. Eric Prydz – Liberate
I simply couldn’t do without adding a Pryda track to my best-of-year list, and luckily enough “Liberate” was the perfect nominee. The track is on the more melodic and progressive side of house, especially for Prydz, and it was this easy listening that made it a summertime anthem. I remember playing this track on sunny days while cruising with the windows down on highway 101, my troubles melting away to the uplifting vocals as the California coast flew by.
“Don’t break now
The world’s locked out
Just close your eyes
And we can push them all away”
Although I’m not predicting that “Liberate” will be a mainstay in future Prydz sets, the official video is perfect for the track’s tone, further instilling it as one of my favorites of 2014.
1. Sailor & I – Turn Around (Âme Remix)
“Please hold me one more time
I’d like to feel your hand inside of mine
But I can’t tell what’s right or wrong
I can’t tell what’s right or wrong”
Talk about an absolutely gorgeous track. Supposedly a metaphor for the “good vs. evil” wills inside every one of us, Sailor & I’s track is magically cathartic on its own, but Âme one ups the original to near perfection. The Innervisions star mixes the vocals with a lovely, synth-filled buildup and a drop just intense enough to make you get back on your feet at the end of a long set (which is why this is the last/first track of the compilation). If you’ve been lucky enough to hear it live, you know the powerful effect of the crowd singing “You can turn your love around” in unison. Fellow dance gods Maceo Plex, Solomun, and Tale of Us also mixed this track in their biggest sets this year. I’m a sucker for lyrics, and emotionally this song hits home.
– Em Shawdy & Chelsea from Sounds of Asteria