The ascension of tropical house is real. So shut the hell up Thomas Jack.
“What Do You Mean” tropical house went mainstream because of Bieber and some “Cheerleader”? And you say Kygo was the fastest artist to reach a billion Spotify streams and their Breakthrough Artist of the Year? Some writers may think that tropical house is a bubble that will burst [Editors note from the future: it did], and even some artists like Thomas Jack are coming in hot saying that they want to distance themselves from the sound. To them I say, it’s just getting started and evolving outside its stereotypes so sit back, grab a cold brew and quit trying to bring down music that has the inherent ability to make you smile and want to run into the ocean butt naked.
Tropical house has blossomed into something more than just a punch bowl of island influenced ingredients. With any new sub genre there will be a flood of Kygo-like copycat artists that try to remanufacture his distinct boops and beeps (pan flutes up the a**), trying to ride the swell only to end up overcrowding the growing wave. I see it as a launching pad for many and a space for people to really create their own distinct vibe using a more mellow approach and instrumental roots.
With this chart I want to show you what else is out there, who you should be paying attention to outside of the Kygo's and Thomas Jacks and how tropical house and chill electronic is influencing the music scene today. We are going to hear tracks that are simply beach worthy, vibrant and melodic tunes that have no business but to be enjoyed with a laid back lifestyle and easygoing buzz.
1. “How Hard I Try” - Filous ft. James Hersey [Good Life Records]
filous is one of the hottest ticket items that I’ve been jamming to these past few months. His debut EP Dawn is beautifully orchestrated with the acoustic influences that many instrumental producers are starting to incorporate into their tracks. His collaborations with incredible voices such as James Hersey and ROBB really elevate filous’ tunes to another echelon of crisp production.
2. “Parallel Lines” - ATTLAS [mau5trap]
Joel might not appreciate this song on my list but it is what it is, a heavily trop influenced track. The lush vibes really come out in ATTLAS’s tracks sometimes although as an artist his sound really has a wide sweeping range. I wouldn’t ever classify him as a tropical or chill house artist but the instrumentals in this really make it seem like it. Definitely one of my favorite tracks of the year!
3. “Like An Animal” - RUFUS DU SOL [Sweat It Out]
Here’s a track that doesn’t feature the island ingredients that are sometimes painfully associated with trop house but instead contains all the essentials for a coastline venture in its roots. The jamming guitar, blaring synths and twinkling percussion elements give it a vibrancy that can only make you want to rip open the blinds and let the fresh air in. RUFUS’s second single “Innerbloom” from their upcoming LP Bloom has even more chilled out vibes for a full nine minutes. Looking forward to seeing and hearing a lot more from these guys in 2016.
4. “Dream” - Autograf [Ultra Records]
These dudes are really taking off in a big way and it’s been fun to watch people turning their ears to these tracks when I feature them or play them at house parties. They’re the perfect amount of energy and just make me want to make out in a moonlit pool. The electronic xylophone at their shows is so rad -- a nice break from the over abundance of saxophone players that accompany trop artists.
5. “Raindrops” - SNBRN [Ultra Records]
SNBRN is the artist in this field that I think most embodies and has roots in sunshine house. The Manhattan Beach, SoCal native lives and breathes LA beach culture and his sound shows he knows what’s up. The genuineness of his production and ability to reach into more deep house and other genres is what will make this man last. He is one of the artists that will continue to reach the masses and have a huge 2016 in the festival circuits.
6. “Swing (Win & Woo Remix)” - EVVY
This is my favorite remix from some of my favorite artists right now. These guys just keep releasing banger after banger with their remixes and I’m excited for some singles on the horizon hopefully soon. Hoping they make their way to LA soon because I hear their shows are bonkers.
7. “Lose It (Jerry Folk Remix)” - Oh Wonder
Oh Wonder is one of my top artists and made one of the albums of the year so I have an automatic affinity and hesitation to any remixes of them but Jerry Folk did it right. Oh yes, he really did it right. The additional bouncing funkiness and piano bars give it an epic energy and I love the hard pause in the middle of the track he added. Jerry Folk has a nice balance of nu-disco and melodic house the latter of which is what I think tropical house really needs to start calling itself.
8. “Talking Body (Gryffin Remix)” - Tove Lo [Universal Music]
Every remix by Gryffin is absolute fire flames. I wait patiently for his uplifting house mixes and remixes and they absolutely deliver every time. He has a pop appeal with the artists he reworks including Tove Lo and Years & Years. His latest winter mix has a brand new single buried in it which means great things are ahead this coming year with his first live shows in LA, NY and at CRSSD Fest in San Diego this spring 2016.
9. “The Clown” - Maribou State ft. Pedestrian, [Counter Records]
Slinking, sliding, sultry and sexy vibes galore in Maribou State’s lead single off their lively and beautifully composed album. With vocals from Chet Faker/Sam Smith hybrid vocalist Pedestrian and a jazzy ensemble of piano, high hats and synthy womps, this track takes the crown for the tightest production on this year’s list of chill tracks. We aren’t just a one stop shop for trop on this list, the chill downtempo house needs some love too.
10. “Cheer Up My Brother” - HNNY [Omena Records]
My favorite song of the year from one of my favorite albums, Sunday by the intelligently crafting and influenced artist HNNY will make you believe in soul. It’s vibrant in its subtle sway, gorgeous in its arranging, and nostalgically pleasant. I highly recommend you listen to the entire album which I reviewed earlier this year and check out his other work on his SoundCloud. He will quickly be one of your favorite artists.
11. “Lost (N2N & AKKI Remix)” - SAINT WKND feat INGLSH [The Dancing Pineapple]
The evolution of tropical house is apparent with one rising star that has used it as a launching pad for creating his own blend of melodic and house magic, N2N. Starting off with successful remixes of Jay-Z/Linkin Park and The Police/Biggie mashup songs, N2N out of New York took what he could out of tropical house and infused it into something more. As a testament to this emerging genre of music he says, “everybody starts with a sound that inspires them, and the focus on melody in tropical house was something that i was attracted to, but it's becoming overdone and I realized that it's not a reflection of my own creativity. I wanted to make music that is my own and that people can't classify as somebody else's.”
12. “Feels So Good” - Sailors [Casual Jam Records]
These guys classify themselves as “chill house,” which I’m gonna go on the record as my preferred sub genre for all things downtempo, trop house, melodic house, mellow funk and lush disco. I’m tired of saying the word “tropical” to be quite honest. Back to the track though, we have a sensually infused vocal laden track dripping with melodic percussion and a heartbeating bassline that will get the endorphins poppin' off like a firework factory fire. This duo out of Mexico are firing off bangarangin singles that need to be checked out by ya.
13. “2AM (Matoma Remix)” - Astrid S
The modified string bit in this remix by one of the brightest stars in trop house is one of the coolest instrumental manipulations I heard this year. Matoma makes the happiest, most singalong worthy tracks in the biz, party bangers capable of lighting up both beach ragers or late night club wild outs. His music is definitely poppy in terms of remixes but his new singles featuring some fantastic vocal talents including Akon really blew me away this year in their originality and range.
14. “Pitch Black” - Mazde feat. LissA [Stoney Roads Records]
Mazde has got something especially fresh cooking in his beat kitchen. He blends a lot of different styles in his work. This is certainly a more melodic house track with funky bass influences while some of his other work might be considered future house or future bass. This track always caught my attention and as a one off it deserves a spot on this list. That piano gets me feeling all sorts of feels, I freakin’ dare you not to tap your foot and snap your fingers and snap your toes for that matter.
15. “Leave A Trace (Goldroom Remix)” - CHVRCHES
Regardless of who made tropical house as popular as it is now there is only one man who truly created the sun soaked sounds before it was labeled “tropical.” That man is Josh Legg aka Goldroom. He has evolved to a full band and releasing some of the best original work out there in electronic, but to say his roots aren’t beach rooted would be a lie. Goldroom never depended on the stereotypical horn, marimba, bongos spread but instead infuses his tunes with more melody and deep house jamming. It feels refreshing to listen to and this remix of one of my favorite CHVRCHES tracks from their new album is no slouch in the sand.
Full Playlist to get your groove on.