At the beginning and end of every year, critics and people alike call those twelve months a definitive time of change. However, one couldn't be more right if they made the preceding claim about 2015, as the old-school Garage sound of House Music, that harks back to the sound of Chicago, nearly disappeared as it took a back seat to a more progressive motif. Some call the style I speak of Playa-Tech, some call it Romantic Techno, and if you're from the old school then you're probably still calling it Progressive House. Regardless of what you may be calling this contemporary sound of House music, the fact of the matter is that the sound has progressed into a more forward-thinking, underground era that is pushing boundaries and shaping the future of dance music as we know it.
This is the sound of House in 2015 and the best of what the year had to offer.
1. 'Acamar' - Frankey & Sandrino
If you spent any time in Ibiza this year, you definitely heard this tune at least three times in a day. If you went to any festivals in the Summer, you for sure heard it at least twice a day. Or if you simply listened to any mixes at all this year, it was probably played in that mix. The reality is that you couldn't get away from this tune and all dance music fans were certainly okay with this.
"Acamar" by Frankey & Sandrino was an unexpected dance music hit this year and it reached out to all four corners of the globe. The tune itself represents an overall shift in dance music, away from the classic, punchier sound of Garage House towards a sound more melodic, yet psychedelic which is being embraced by everyone from the clubs in Berlin to the desert and daytime parties of California.
Frankey & Sandrino's "Acamar" is not just a top tune of the year, it's a landmark track for House Music as a whole.
2. ''Holding On" - Julio Bashmore feat. Sam Dew
Julio Bashmore first set the dance music world on fire back in 2010 with his deep underground hit "Battle For Middle You" and then again two years later with his breakout summer smash entitled "Au Seve". But in 2015, Mr. Bashmore hit the house music jackpot when he sampled Larry Levan's Disco masterpiece "Make It Last Forever" and made a whole new tune out of it by enlisting Sam Dew on the vocals to create what was not only the Summer tune of the year but also one of the biggest tunes of the year overall.
3. ''Skin & Bones (Karl Friedrich Remix)" - Terranova feat. Lydmor & Bon Homme
One of my top overall tunes of the year belongs to the original version of the gorgeously sung "Skin & Bones" by guest vocalists Lydmore & Bon Homme. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that this stunning Tech-House rework by Karl Friedrich lands right towards the top of my best of year chart for House music.
4. "Celeste" - Bicep
"Just" may be the juggernaut from Bicep's catalog this year but it's the magical balearic beauty on the b-side of the EP that really did it for me and many others as well, "Celeste."
5. "XTC" - DJ Koze
It's quite rare for a producer to ever achieve nearly perfect beauty in the composition of electronic music. However, it has in fact been done by others in the past, such as Moby with his early 90's trailblazing Techno hit "Go", Jam & Spoon with the absolutely gorgeous "Stella", 808 State with their the groundbreaking masterpiece "Pacific", and even more recently Pachanga Boys with the ethereal "Time". Fast-forward to now and DJ Koze has achieved the same results with his latest production, "XTC" which is a steady-building, dreamy affair that features a spoken word of a woman accounting her own personal philosophical experience with the aforementioned substance. Press play and be prepared to float away.
6. "One Time Game" - Jamie Jones, Kate Simko and London Electronic Orchestra
Jamie Jones & Lee Foss' new imprint Emerald City was designed to showcase dance music that possesses more of a song structure or Pop sensibility rather than the typical four on the floor fire that the Hot Creations camp is known for. This second issue of the label featured the stellar production team of Jamie Jones & Kate Simko along with her live orchestral project known as The London Electronic Orchestra which she had showcased to multiple sold out shows all over London. In addition, "One Time Game" features UK songstress Jem Cooke who lends her flawless vocal on this stellar tune.
7. "Chicago" - Apres
Radio 1's Annie Mac is almost solely responsible for the success of Apres' "Chicago" since she premiered it as a free download on her Free Music Monday series on Soundcloud. However, the young and talented producer known as Apres plays a big hand in this as well. Apres does a classy job of sampling Chuck Roberts and the results were astounding. This tune was not only a Radio 1 hit but a massive festival hit as well.
8. "Epika" - Guy Mantzur & Roy RosenfelD
Israeli producers Guy Mantzur & Roy RosenfelD team up for one of the most epic dance music tracks of the year very aptly entitled, "Epika."
9. "1979" - Axel Boman
The Pampa Records camp blew my mind with two devastatingly amazing tracks this year. One being the aforementioned tune "XTC" by their head honcho DJ Koze and the other being this ethereal gem called "1979" by critically-acclaimed Swedish producer Axel Boman.
10. "Chrysalism" - Rodriguez Jr
Rarely does music ever sound as ominously beautiful as does Olivier Mateu aka Rodriguez Jr's "Chrysalism."
11. "Signs (Rodhad Remix)" - Howling
Rodhad's brilliant re-rub of signs was so brilliant that it remained popular all year long. It was played by DJs from all different electronic genres and it was caned in clubs all over the world.
12. "Wolfsbane" - Jonas Rathsman
The year 2015 for the mighty Jonas Rathsman was a step in a new direction for the French Express alum whereas his prior productions were a bit more on the classic sound of old-school Garage style House music. However, he broke away from his prior sound this year with new futuristic and contemporary styles, without sacrificing any quality and/or originality.
13. "CZ" - Seth Troxler
One of my favorite tracks of the year is Seth Troxler's brilliant seven minute journey simply entitled "CZ."
14. "Solitary Daze" - Maceo Plex & Gabriel Ananda
The prolific "Solitary Daze" by Maceo Plex & German Techno stalwart, Gabriel Ananda was squeezed into the very end of 2014 but it stood out and resonated throughout the entire year of 2015.
15. "The Spirit (Adriatique's 7am Remix)" - Butch Feat. Hohberg
Swiss duo Adriatique have outdone themselves once again with their magnificently gorgeous remix of Butch's "The Spirit."
16. "Constellations" - CamelPhat
CamelPhat's "Constellations" was a mammoth of a dancefloor tune that seemed to transcend all genres and all scenes throughout the entire year.
17. "Let's Fall (Deetron WP Remix)" - Headless Ghost
Ripperton had sadly put the seal on his production alias Headless Ghost this year with his Let's Fall EP. The Let's Fall EP featured the title track along with a couple of remixes including this octave shifting masterpiece of a remix by none other than Deetron.
18. "I Had This Thing (Joris Voorn Remix)" - Royksopp
The last couple of years for Joris Voorn have proven to be his most prolific, thanks to a string of successful musical accomplishments such as the ethereal single "Ringo" from 2013 and his critically acclaimed full length album from last year. He continued his musical superiority here with his magical re-touch of the already amazing "I Had This Thing" by the Norwegian maestros, Royksopp.
19. "Vermillion (&ME Remix)" - Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons
Jamie Jones, Deniz Kurtel, & Agoria all took their turns at remixing Damian Lazarus' dance music hit "Vermillion". Although, a well-deserved remix also came from the German phenom known simply as &ME who has been busy turning the music world upside down lately with his woody & rhythmic take on dance music through his remixes and his own productions as well. This was rinsed countless times this past year.
20. "Movement Of Whale" - SevenDoors [Diynamic]
The fifth edition of Diynamic's Four To The Floor series included this beauty of a tune called "Movement Of Whale" by electronic music newcomer SevenDoors.
Stream the twenty best house tracks of 2015 below: