Listen up, people. If you still think EDM is exciting and fresh, that's a sign you're a newb. The rest of us have been at this party way past our bedtimes, and we keep checking our watches like, "Are you done yet?"
But just when we were about to pay our tabs and head home for good, all these great acts came out with all these phenomenal releases. We had to do a double-take like, "Wait a minute! This is getting good!"
In the hope that innovation is not dead and copycats can't win, we're clinging to those glimmers of realness, those pillars of the funk, those envelope-pushers old and new, trusting that they'll lead us back to the promised land. If you're looking for a little more soul and a little less commercial garbage, keep an eye on these artists, and don't give up on the getdown. Not today.
Daft Punk are legends for one simple reason: They always keep pushing forward. Never have they sat on their laurels and just phoned in an album because they knew they could. Every time they do something, it's groundbreaking. Often, audiences aren't quite ready for their latest installment until a couple of years after it comes out, and that's the sign of real visionaries. With their latest album, Random Access Memories, they once again leave expectation behind in favor of experimentation, and their message this time around is to remind dance producers that musicality is king. If more people go into the studio inspired by their prowess and attention to theory, we'll all be better off.
All right, now hear us out. We know this scream singer turned dubstep dynamo kind of became the poster boy for bangers, brostep, and a lot of shit that's probably not very good for dance music, but that's not his fault. Just because he was the innovator that spawned a million copycats doesn't mean he's anything like those guys copping his steez. Having spoken to the guy ourselves a few times, we can say without a doubt this guy is an artist, and he's always trying to bring his legion of often-ignorant fans onto his level. He really threw the crowd at Ultra for a loop with his Dog Blood performance, a new collaboration with fellow legend Boys Noize. And his latest EP, Leaving, again saw a change in style, mood, and technique. If he keeps pushing himself, he could be the guy who leads the bro-y hordes to greater things. He's pivotal in changing attitudes, and he's not afraid of change.
This guy is anything but new to the scene. He's been a producer's producer for years, and he can make just about any type of song in any kind of genre or hybrid, concept or feeling. But ever since he teamed up with Lunice to form trap-running duo TNGHT, he's become one of the biggest names in the scene - and not just in the EDM circles. He was signed on as an in-house producer for the G.O.O.D. Music crew by none other than Kanye West, and Mr. West made sure he was involved with high-level projects, Yeezus being one. That being said, trap is getting kind of stale, by no fault of HudMo's own, but we are confident this guy will continue to innovate in the studio and on the decks, bringing a higher standard of quality to whatever work he touches. Now that he's got the attention, it's game-over fuck boys.
This guy is kind of a new name making waves on the scene, but he's been on his grind for a few years. That being said, dude has hit his stride, and his sex-fueled, dark-room ready, futuristic r&beats have turned a lot of the biggest producers in the world on their heads. His remixes and originals with singer Jeremiah are probably some of the dankest and boner-inducing things we've ever heard. He's a most gifted remixer, and we're hoping he's got what it takes to sooth the savage beast on the dance floor. It's time to get grown and sexy, EDM generation, and this is the brother that will teach you how to put the moves on, without all that cheesy neon and fist pumping.
Back in the day, DJs used to do something called genre-hopping. That meant that instead of sticking to one obnoxious sound for their whole freakin' set, they'd have the skills to bring all kinds of feels in one evening. As it turns out, Miami's own GTA are the new heroes of the no-boundaries swagger. They don't give a shit about your genre, they say buck your trends. They're going to do whatever they want, and you're going to love it. Their shit it just fire like that. That's why everyone from Diplo to A-Trak, Wolfgang Gartner, Deadmau5 and fucking Pharrell want to work with them. That's why Rihanna's got them on a crazy European arena tour as her opening act, and we're quite sure they're not phoning it in just because a bunch of basic bitches came out to sing along to "Umbrella." As they spread the "death to genres" gospel, we all become a little more versed in what good actually sounds like. Keep it going, don't stop.
If their debut album Hanging Gardens is the first time you've heard of Classixx, ugh, whatever, welcome to the party. It's about freaking time you figured it out, but we can't blame you too much seeing as it took them nearly half a decade to put out a full-length. Still, these two L.A. music men have got that perfect disco flavor to chase all the dark days away. Each track on the LP is thoughtful and refreshing, hitting different notes and hues, taking you on a wistful journey through your own daydreams. Some of these songs have been classics for years (haha, get it? Classixx), and now, the final package is sure to spur a return to good feels and good times at parties for four more years.
Okay, so this is kind of cheating, but the Dirtybird label out of San Francisco has too many amazing artists to pick just one. Plus, the name "Dirtybird" has kind of become synonymous with a certain futuristic, booty-tech sound. Headed by Claude Von Stroke and Justin Martin, they also carry or release from J. Phlip, Christian Martin, Kill Frenzy, Worthy, Eats Everything, Mark Starr, Catz'n'Dogs, Breach, Friend Within, and on and on and on. They're always throwing sick free parties, giving awesome shit away to their fans, and the level of turn-out on productions is inspiring on its own. They have a real down-to-earth vibe, too, and you can tell they're never going to lose sight of the things that are important, or why we all found ourselves in this scene in the first place. As long as Dirtybird is flying free, we're going to be alright.
By now, everyone on the planet must have shook their booty to the ground for this duo's stellar anthem "M.Y.B." It's funny, these guys are steady bringing some of the funkiest, most danceable music and DJ sets on the scene, but they don't even claim to be that into the modern EDM music anymore. These guys find solace and inspiration in the records of the past, and maybe that's the key to their fresh take on the groove. These aren't the guys that are going to bring a bunch of funny props, sexy dancers or flashy fanfare. They're just going to give you the down and dirty, sweaty good time you should be coming for. Their Mechanical EP still has people talking, even though it dropped five months ago, and they're already working on a full-length, something they hope to make a little more conceptual instead of just the usual EDM one-song-a-time, mish-mash type scenario. That's the kind of thing the scene needs, and we can't wait to hear it.
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Here's another one with years of experience below his belt, but a recent and quite quick rise to fame since 2013 began. Before, he was content to chill in the underground, best known for his slick sets and prime remix abilities. However, now that he's begun releasing original material, he's got more than a bit of our attention. His single "Need U (100%)" is the kind of sound that could define an era, and maybe that's because of its retro feel, but it just kind of seems right for right now. Back in January, he was Annie Mac's choice for Pete Tong's Essential Mix Future Stars of 2013, and damn was she on the money. He just released a new jam, "Hold On" featuring MNEK, and it's so soulful, so sexy, we can hardly stand it. This guy is definitely the future of something.
You should have seen this one coming from a mile away. Even though we just saw them play the live stage at Ultra to something like 30 people max, we knew these guys were going to blow the fuck up by year's end. Now, everyone and their mom is talking about how much they just love London's Disclosure and that new LP Settle. People all over our facebook feed be like, "it's even better than the new Daft Punk." It'll most likely be in the top five of Best Albums lists for the year, or else we don't really know what anyone out there is thinking. They're already crossover superstars in the UK and Euroland, and they're clearly on their way to radio play in the states. They might be the best savior EDM has got. In Disclosure we trust. No pressure.