American electro house producer Joey Youngman has had a stellar year. From “Space Junk” to “Forever”, his style includes edge, style, melody, drama, and intrigue. His tracks remain relatively instrumental and still fairly relevant, and are the source of endless mashups. On his debut album Weekend In America, his sound consists mainly of 8-bit chords arranged beautifully over a punchy beat before it descends into a den of dark synths and aggression. However, “The Way It Was” focuses more on a melodic and softer trip throughout the beginning and then switches gears to a vigorous drop that actually reminds of Michael Woods. Let’s also not forget about a potential mash-up of the year which features the beloved Bob Marley.
#67 EDX – Szeplo (Original Mix)
I expect nothing but euphoric melodies, mellow bass and a fluid rhythm from this dream catching house producer. This track to me is the epitome of EDX’s signature sound. My favorite element of the track is the gritty house horns in the progression, of which bursts into a swift mercurial drop! One of my biggest freak-outs during a live show was when the Swedish duo Cazzette, who opened for Avicii in early September at Necto Ann Arbor, dropped this track out of nowhere!
#66 Nicky Romero – Camorra (Original Mix)
Released through Calvin Harris’ Fly Eye records, this Nicky Romero track falls under a special category of mine – jungle fuego! It has a contagious bouncy rhythm that just makes you want to get loose like our boy Mogley from the Jungle Book. I had the chance to see Nicky Romero this year at the Mid in Chicago and let me tell you – this kid is the real deal. He was very comfortable up there and had a fluid set that reminded me a bit of Sander Van Doorn and Fedde Le Grand, a very lethal combo!
#65 Hard Rock Sofa & Swanky Tunes – Smolengrad / United (Original Mixes) **FUEGO
To me, 2011 has not only been the pinnacle of Electronic Dance Music but also the year for the Russian Renaissance, aka the Russian trios of Swanky Tunes and Hard Rock Sofa. Their 2011 campaign includes “Thank You / Labrynth EP”, “Select Start”, “Steamgun”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, “Feedback”, and “Phantom”. Out all these progressive bombs, it’s “Smolengrad” and “United” that wreak havoc and evoke the strongest of emotions. In fact, I think we should classify these as ARENA bombs as they induce a fist-pump frenzy within any cold-blooded raver.
The alarming sirens, stabbing synths and punchy drops are common elements of the two. Truly a dark atmosphere from the beginning with its pressing sirens, “Smolengrad” is a compelling collection of layers that just builds and builds into an arena-style drop. As for its equally robust counterpart “United”, it’s the violent synth stabs and punchy drop that makes this an STS-certified crushable. If King Kong had a theme song to play while he was on a rampage, bumping his chest and stomping over people, then this would be his jam.
Hard Rock Sofa & Swanky Tunes – Smolengrad (Original Mix) (Purchase them on Beatport)
#64 Gregori Klosman – Kameha (Original Mix)
A worthy follow-up to his infamous “Jaws” that dominated Chuckies Dirty Dutch Digital – Vol. 3 compilation, this Spinnin-released bomb by Frenchman Gregori Klosman outshines its predecessor no question. It truly is a polished track, possessing all the right ingredients to keep its listener engaged and jumping. Similar to “Jaws”, “Kameha” comes off guns-blazing with a bossy bassline. What separates “Kameha” from the former is an angry surge of synth stabs to recharge anyone on low battery.
#63 Laidback Luke & Steve Aoki – Turbulence feat. Lil Jon (Original Mix)
With the backing of Ultra Records, the Dutch enigma Laidback Luke and Japanese-American electro house producer Steve Aoki join forces to create a raging anthem that was a festival staple this year. The intro of the track deftly creates a sense of urgency for an explosive, fist-pump provoking drop. For how incredibly hot this track was over the summer and for how much hype there was surrounding this favorable collaboration, I’ll be the first to admit that this ranking does not do justice; but it also goes to show how good this year was for releases! I suppose that other tracks were more fresh in my mind and that it could’ve gotten overplayed a bit, not to mention Lil Jon’s voice kind of gets old fast.
#62 Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – REJ (Original Mix)
2011 has been a huge success for the Belgian brother duo. With homecourt ( or rather homestage) advantage at the legendary festival Tomorrowland, they won over an elite group of ravers with this atomic bomb. The first part of the track features a chargimg and sinister build that sufficiently prepares you for whats about to torch your inner eardrum. At two minutes in, comes a stampeding drop that ruthlessly punishes the speakers and any dancefloor for that matter. Just like the name of Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike’s record label, “REJ” really does Smash The House.
#61 Sander Van Doorn – Love Is Darkness feat. Carol Lee (+ Basto Remix)
Tiesto isn’t the only one flourishing since the cross from trance to progressive. If you want to talk about an exceptional producer and an entertaining DJ, Sander Van Doorn should be at the top of your list. His full-length album Eleve11 was definitely a showcase of his driving melodic sound. The original mix is more on the deeper side and with the aid of Carol Lee, it has an ironically graceful drop (if that makes any sense). As for Basto’s Bigroom Baby mix, let’s talk magma. Regardless of how polished Sander’s sound is, this remix fucking crushes! Without a doubt, Basto’s piercing synths stabs that come 2:30 are some of the best I’ve ever heard this year. Do not let this track sleep on you!