Best of 2015: zacheser’s Picks

Best Remix

For me, it was all about Four Tet’s remix of Eric Prydz’s “Opus.” A late arrival in 2015, Four Tet managed to take an anthemic marvel and churned it into a surreal epic that felt like a stormy sea of synths – lifting higher and higher until you could literally feel your heart bursting out of your chest. Very few tracks have actually brought tears to my eyes, but this has turned me into an emotional mess time and time again.

Honorable mentions: Dominica, “Gotta Let You Go (Bicep Edit)”; Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, “Omen (Jonas Rathsman Remix)”; KDA, “Rumble (Shadow Child Re-Edit).”

Best LP/EP

Disclosure’s Caracal. By far. To be completely honest, when it initially dropped in September, I was pretty disappointed. But after multiple listens all the way through, from beginning to end, one thing became incredibly clear to me. While their freshman effort, Settle, had more radio friendly and club ready tracks, Caracal stands out as a more unified body of work with a very specific through line which shows an incredible level of restraint and maturity not just for a sophomore album, but for any album period. Like Daft Punk’s Discovery, I think Caracal will be the album that people talk about when someone mentions Disclosure 10 years from now.

Honorable Mention: Duke Dumont, “Blasé Boys Club, Pt. 1” [Virgin]; Lane 8, “RISE” [Anjunadeep]; Various Artists, “Dirtybird 10” [Dirtybird].

Track of the Year

When the summer happened, I always whipped out Melé’s “Ambience” during my sets. It’s undeniably one of the fiercest records of 2015 and really gave my other favorite track, Jess Glynne’s poppy dance sing-a-long “Hold My Hand,” a real run for its money. The tribal attitude, the crazy vocal sample that howls into the sky; all of it, to me, is 100% summer and I will absolutely throw it down during the summers – and late night jam sessions – to come.

Honorable Mention: Jess Glynne, “Hold My Hand”; Claude VonStroke, “Barrump”; DJ Haus, “Make It Hot;” Jamie XX, “Loud Places.”

Best New Artist

Kiwi. He was the first signee on Duke Dumont’s Blasé Boys Club imprint, he’s been making waves with many of his remixes (including one he did of Petite Meller’s “Baby Love” which I played during multiple rooftop sets in the summer season this year), and he has been featured as one of Annie Mac’s big up-and-comers from 2015.

Honorable Mentions: Fono; Sam Feldt; Jess Glynne.

Artist of the Year

2015 was a crazy year for Claude VonStroke. His label turned 10 years old. He threw down multiple cookouts and a campout weekend. The Dirtybird Don traveled to Ibiza for the summer season, played multiple major festivals, and had enough time to make orange juice from the trees that grow in his backyard. In addition to his massive singles “Barrump” and “Make a Cake,” he slaughtered the remix game with his edit of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” which effectively shit on every trap artist’s take on possibly the biggest white girl song of the year. And don’t even get me started on his opening duties for Disclosure during their North American tour (here’s a hint: FIRE).

Honorable Mentions: Eau Claire; Michael Calfan; Jess Glynne; Four Tet; Lane 8.

Favorite Show of the Year

This past September, Will Eastman threw his final BLISS party ever at U Street Music Hall. It was a night of revelry, melancholy, joy, and reflection as he worked his way through 15 years of music. It also didn’t hurt that he waited to play Soulwax’s remix of The Gossip’s “Standing in the Way of Control” until I was in the building. God – I love that fucking record.

Honorable Mentions: Jess Glynne [U Street Music Hall]; Above & Beyond [Echostage]; Blisspop presents SLICE: H Street Festival Edition [Rock & Roll Hotel]; The 2 Bears [Flash]; ROAM IX [Undisclosed location].

Label of the Year

This is going to feel like beating a dead horse. Dirtybird Records. Aside from celebrating their ten year anniversary and the multiple releases from artists like Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke, Kill Frenzy, and Justin Jay over the past year, the craziest parties I attended in 2015 happened to be Dirtybird related. Their fanbase not only came out in droves, but they showed a real hunger for weird, zany, original content that hit incredibly hard. And fortunately for us, Dirtybird delivered on that promise in 2015. Every. Damn. Time.

Honorable Mentions: Anjunadeep; Rinse; Hot Creations.

DC Artist to Watch

He’s a hometown homey who knows his shit and I love him to death for it. Phil Hafner, the quiet guy in the booth who people see on the setlist as Philco, has been steadily making his mark by supporting the scene and working the grind while showing a very loving nod to the house heroes who came before him like Masters at Work, Simon Dunmore, and just about anyone from Chicago. With phenomenal remixes in 2015 and a slew of new content planned for the new year in conjunction with multiple shared bills with massive artists (*cough* Catz ‘n’ Dogz *cough*), Philco’s status in D.C. is only going to get bigger and bigger. Watch him. I’m telling you. Don’t let the calm demeanor fool you. He’s a beast.