The 44 best tracks of 2018 so far - Features - Mixmag

The 44 best tracks of 2018 so far

The last six months have been pretty incredible, haven't they

  • Words: Mixmag Squad | Illustrations: Lawrence Abbott
  • 5 July 2018

You love bangers.

We love bangers.

Here are the bangers that have banged the hardest in 2018 so far.

In no particular order...

Jimothy Lacoste ‘Subway System’

Jimothy Lacoste has brought some much needed light relief to the British public in 2018. His simple yet infectious melodies, inimitable dance moves and daredevil antics on London’s public transport system have been keeping us entertained since he started dropping tunes and homemade video’s online at the tail-end of last year. But while some might have written off Jimothy’s homemade take on lo-fi pop as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek in joke, ’Subway System’ saw him prove the Lacoste project has legs. The production’s sharper, the lyrics tighter and the melody’s even more unshakeable. Plus the video (which saw him getting up to all sorts of mischief on London’s underground network) was so good that it got taken down from YouTube on TFL’s request for fear of copycats. With a Black Butter record deal freshly inked, we’re on tenterhooks for what Jimothy does next. Sean Griffiths

Mind Against ‘Days Gone’

One of Mixmag’s biggest premieres this year, Mind Against’s ‘Days Gone’ marked the long-awaited return of the Italian duo to Tale Of Us’ acclaimed Afterlife label. The deeply emotional ballad showcases Alessandro and Federico Fognini testing the boundaries of techno, with a chiming, multi-layered and ethereal take on the genre. Inside the comfort of your headphones, the progression bounces with a pushing and pulling depth, small glimmers of machine-like melodies scattered beneath the undertow. But alas, live is where ‘Days Gone’ truly shines as a set’s magnum opus. Played through booming speakers, the track seems almost unidentifiable with an expansive ricochet of altitudes, quivering with commotion - an almost frenzy-like plot gliding over the track’s longing chords. Sydney Jow

​Peggy Gou 'It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)'

When fast-rising talent Peggy Gou dropped her first release on Ninja Tune titled ‘Once’ back in March, there was a strong buzz in the industry focused around the track ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’. Without exaggerating too much, it was as if every feel-good house DJ was playing it out. Whether at peak time on a Saturday night or at an afters early Sunday morning, the track worked during all moments on the dancefloor. Sensual vocals from Peggy herself highlight the ballad, which features deep acid riffs, a grooving rhythm, warm bells and a cosmic essence. The record quickly sold-out in all shops and ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ is becoming the soundtrack of 2018. A number we surely won’t forget any time soon. Harrison Williams

​Nines 'I See You Shining'

'I See You Shining' is a no-fucks-given victory lap from a UK rapper whose stock-in-trade is lucid, uncensored descriptions of life in the trap. This unabashed tribute to “hustlers that grind all day” is chest-thumpingly triumphant (thanks to production from hitmaker-of-the-moment Steel Banglez and Zeph Ellis) and flies in the face of a mainstream media that continues to vilify young black musicians and a police force that is trying to outlaw them from making music altogether.

It comes dripping in references to drugs, money and cars but, like the rest of Nines’ output (and that of his contemporaries in the scene), it’s an insight into life on the edge of society, where youth clubs have long since shut down, there’s a severe lack of affordable housing and welfare benefits have been slashed by Tory budget cuts. Against this backdrop, lines like “I see you looking fly today, I see you shining, ay” become all the more empowering for those who are being ignored by the government and pushed into precarious situations, like the one depicted in the film Nines released to accompany the album this song is taken from. Seb Wheeler

Surly 'Whispers Through The Wall'

New Zealand producer Surly’s haunting cut is one of the year's defining footwork tracks. His unique, experimental take on the genre showcases a real re-imagining with hints of Polish Jazz and breaks. Fans of producers like Kode9, DJ Fulltono and LTJ Bukem will feel right at home and 'Whispers Through The Wall’ gaining praise across the board, with Addison Groove rolling it on his recent NTS guest slot. This definitely won’t be the last we hear from Juke Bounce Werk’s Surly this year. Check out his latest EP ‘Trip to Warsaw’ here. Sherelle Thomas

Peach 'Silky'

Every few years, a DJ comes along that you watch and think, this is the start of something really special. We felt like that with The Black Madonna, Peggy Gou, Mall Grab and now we feel like that with Peach. She breezed her way into our 30 under 30,000 list at the start of the year and throughout 2018 she’s only been solidifying her inclusion further. Her recent Boiler Room is already an instant classic, her gig bookings have multiplied and her productions? Well, they’re causing some waves too. Her debut release came via Midland’s new Intergraded label and if we’ve established anything over the last five years, it’s that Midland has the golden touch. ‘Silky’ is pretty much a perfect debut track. It’s fun, it doesn’t stop rolling, it’s full of groove and its luscious melodies are sure to take you to that special place on the dancefloor. Promising doesn’t even begin to cut it. Keep em coming, Peach. Funster

​Skee Mask ‘Dial 274’ (Ilian Tape)

Skee Mask’s tracks always have us hitting special headspaces. Working at the intersection of breakbeat, jungle, ambient, dub and techno, the versatile producer has shown a consistently deft touch in melding these styles into euphoria-drenched soundscapes that get listeners lifted. But when it comes to his influences, he’s just as capable as channelling the rough as the smooth. Nestled in the centre of his latest masterpiece on Ilian Tape, the album ‘Compro’, is ‘Dial 274’, which stands out as Skee Mask’s most unapologetically club-primed juggernaut of a track so far.

Surging through the heart of the production is a scuzzy Reese bassline, forging a raw, pacey foundation around which drums clatter with corporeal urgency, lasers fire then melt into sludge, and reverb-soaked bells shimmer with a dizzying sense of incongruity, further fuelling the mania. Suddenly at the track’s climax, rave horns blare in an intense breakdown, before the bassline powers back in and revs into the 4am dancefloor zone. Plunging listeners into a headspace focused on the physical, ‘Dial 274’ underscores Skee Mask as a producer who astonishes. Patrick Hinton

​Sophie Lloyd 'Calling Out' (feat. Dames Brown) (Floorplan Remixes)

Sophie Lloyd is a name on everyone’s lips at the moment. Her track ‘Calling Out’ featuring soul trio Dames Brown is a reminiscent tip back to the halcyon days of gospel disco. It was fittingly released on Classic earlier this year, and is there a better duo suited to produce a remix than Floorplan, aka, Robert Hood and his daughter Lyric Hood? We don't think so.

The Club Mix emphasises the grooves with a pumping house energy, while the Revival Mix draws you in with layered and looped piano riffs and vocals. The quality and shine of this record is telling of Sophie Lloyd’s years of mastering her craft in the studio. A game-changing track for the London-based selector. Jaguar Bingham

​Toxe ‘Big Age’

Toxe and her fellow Staycore crew members have a knack for crafting vivid melodies that target the amygdala and hook you along the twists and turns of an emotional rollercoaster. The Swedish producer’s newest EP and debut on PAN ‘Blinks’ is described by the label as documenting a “period of inward flux”, and the moods of lead single ‘Big Age’ are fittingly kinetic and compelling. Submerging youthful squeals and shiny video game FX in contemplative synth tones, the rhythms move with a restless momentum before faltering into drawn out stutters, evoking a sense of anxious zest.

Some of the best club tracks are disorientating listens, but while one end of the spectrum relies on hard-hitting beats to achieve potency, ‘Big Age’ is a triumph of delicacy. Lightly dancing on the cusp of multiple atmospheres, the track’s unplaceable emotion draws out a broad flood of feelings from within. It’s a tears in the club anthem - but what kind of tears? Patrick Hinton

Pangaea 'Bone Sucka'

Following the release of his lauded 2016 debut album 'In Drum Play', Hessle Audio linchpin Pangaea returns to his imprint in 2018 with the 'Bone Sucka' EP. The title track of this two-track release is a strenuous and hefty tune filled with rhythmic trickery and stereo panning that's as disorienting as it is pulverising. Filled with razor-sharp synth lines and vocal stabs which sit atop an unparalleled techno-breakbeat fortitude, 'Bone Sucka' has the capacity to add an element of fever dream insanity to any rave. The track’s skewed structure and rhythmic backbone share a major kinship with Mixmag’s number one track of 2017 'Theme From Q’ by Objekt. While ‘Bone Sucka’ may not hit quite the same amount of success as Objekt’s slamming summer hit, it goes to show that swollen bass and warped breaks still hold true as a winning combination in clubland right now. Cameron Holbrook

​Ex-terrestrial '2DS'

I love these lists. They give me the opportunity, neigh, the duty to listen to tunes I've already played a million times over. So they need to be tracks it appears impossible to get sick of. Production goes a long way for that and Ex-terrestrial has it in spades. Everything Canadian artist Adam Feingold has produced since taking on the moniker has been gold but with '2DS' his off-world vision amalgamates in a glorious mid-tempo concoction of broken beats and beautiful chords. Everything from the digital sax sounds to sizzling acid bass line make this track feel like you've stepped through a portal to a time when rave flyers looked like this and no one drank at the rave. Rose-tinted and wavy electronic music at it's simplistic best. Louis Anderson-Rich

SOPHIE ‘Faceshopping’

Recently I’ve noticed a common theme shared by many of my favourite producers. Regardless of genre, label or release format, I find myself drawn, time and time again, to a string of artists with truly inimitable sounds. And when it comes to SOPHIE, her weird, woozy and undeniably wonderful approach to distorted productions and experimental magic is just that, a breath of fresh – albeit metallic and sickly sweet – air that encourages listeners to embrace life at the bleeding edges of normality.

Her single ‘Faceshopping’ was the third teaser from her debut album ‘OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-SIDES’ which recently released much to the delight of fans and critics. Complete with head-spinning vocals, otherworldly sound design and those synths, throughout ‘Faceshopping’ SOPHIE’s unique brand of bubblegum bass and real human emotion is pushed to its limits. Darker, glitchier and undeniably catchy, ‘Faceshopping’ is underground cut that is destined for the top. Jasmine Kent-Smith

George FitzGerald & Bonobo 'Roll Back'

A three year hiatus between George Fitzgerald’s last album was enough hype to get any fan of the melodic, UK producer, absolutely jazzed. Throw in a name like Bonobo and it’s essentially game over. It was no surprise that ‘All That Must Be’ arrived to high praise as a natural, but noticeable progression for Fitzgerald’s intuitive and emotionally bold productions, but it seemed that more so than ever before, this album served as an entire showing of the depth and range that could be reached by a storyteller through the means of electronic music. ‘Roll Back’ simultaneously lifts you up while haunting listeners in a way that strikes at the heart and remains with you long after the last chorus chant from Lil Silva. Valerie Lee

​Children Of Zeus 'Slow Down'

Sometimes you just need to lay back, relax and listen to some real chilled tunes. Enter Manchester duo Children Of Zeus. At a time when there's so many r'n'b and soul artists coming through, Tyler Daley and Konny Kon are charging ahead in my most played with their combination of dusty beats, vintage soul samples, crooning vocals and oh-so-Mancunian rap bars. Debut album 'Travel Light' is set to drop in July and lead single 'Slow Down' shines bright like the sunshine through your bedroom window in the morning. It's a string-led epic packed with emotion and you can guess what it tells you: it's all good to put the brakes on and chill once in a while. It was an absolute vibe when they played it at Field Day, too. No doubt you'll be hearing it a lot this summer. Dave Turner

​Bladee 'Obedient'

As the inimitable, angst-ridden and auto-tuned vocals of Gravity Boy/Sad Boy/Drain Gang affiliate Bladee’s Red Light were performed live at the O2 Islington in May 2018 just days after the record's release, each and every lyric of ‘Obedient’ reverberated back in perfect unison from the crowd. White Armor’s deeply harmonised and upbeat production on ‘Obedient’ is familiar and intensely vivacious, allowing Bladee’s cryptic lexicon which covers themes of life, death, love and control to subsist without ever feeling dispiriting. This is one of cloud-rap's most transcendent highlights of 2018. Lawrence Abbott

Kids See Ghosts 'Kids See Ghosts'

Kanye is the GOAT, let’s just clear that up quickly and if you disagree then you’re wrong. OK, well that’s my opinion but it’s been hard to deny Yeezy his props over the last month or so. If you can look past his absurd commentary about slavery and Donald Trump (we appreciate that’s a big ask) and just focus on the music, you’re rewarded with five albums that show off Kanye’s undeniable production talent and inimitable flow on the mic. Five albums in five weeks, yeah that’s impressive.

Pusha T’s ‘Daytona’ kicked the door (and Drizzy) down first, Kanye’s ‘Ye’ split people down the middle shortly after, Kid Cudi jumped on board for the ethereal ‘Kids See Ghosts’, Nas got political as hell on ‘Nasir’ and Teyana Taylor soothed and healed with ‘K.T.S.E’. Each of the seven track albums received positive reviews and each housed its own set of standouts but here we’re (reluctantly) choosing one. Kids See Ghosts is the collaborative project between Yeezy and Kid Cudi and after the abrasive, divisive ‘Ye’ record, this self-titled album showcased Kanye’s more sensitive, considered side. The title track features Kanye flowing at his best and Cudi crooning his heart out alongside a brilliant feature from Yasiin Bey. It really is Yeezy Season and with that in mind we’d like to reiterate: Kanye, you’re the GOAT, mate. Funster

ANNA 'Hidden Beauties'

Brazilian producer ANNA has steamed ahead to the top of the techno game with her debut EP ‘Speicher 101’ on Kompakt. The lead single, ‘Hidden Beauties’ is a rolling, drawn out stomper that was released at the beginning of 2018, and it still remains a stand out track in sets. The track is hypnotic, with its glitchy warbles and quaking bassline, and it’s no wonder that this release has pushed her to new heights. This year, the Beatport chart climber will join line-ups alongside Drumcode, Jeff Mills and Tiga and continue to smash up sought after sets on dancefloors across the globe. Jaguar Bingham

Modeselektor 'Kalif Storch’

On the edge of the Detroit River bank, people are congregating at the Movement stage to see what’s already guaranteed to be a glorious return for Modeselektor. Leaving no room for doubt, the duo smash into an intro with their pounding ‘Kalif Storch’, the first track they’ve released in three years and a fitting welcome back anthem. It’s a hit, and the energy is already soaring long before the lasers erupt. With drums pounding and electro slams sizzling, there’s no better comeback track than the lead off their fourth edition of their ‘Modeselektion’ EP series… and we can’t wait for what’s in store from Szary and Bronsert later this year. Valerie Lee

Octavian ‘Hands’

Octavian might just be the most exciting prospect in black British music right now. The French-born South Londoner first came to widespread attention when he dropped ‘Party Here’ at the end of 2017, a track that showcased his restrained and lightly menacing flow over a minimal beat with shades of dancehall, grime and garage. On ‘Hands’ he takes something of a sideways step. The track opens with a soft piano line and a smattering of auto-tune vocals before Octavian repeats the same three lines for the duration of the song (each time phrased slightly differently) over a murmuring bassline. The 22-year-old has spoken of it as an attempt by himself and producer JRick to make a Bon Iver tune and the result is one the starkest three minutes in British music all year. Sean Griffiths

Sons Of Kemet 'My Queen Is Harriet Tubman'

The world needs more music as potent as that contained on ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’. The third album from Sons Of Kemet raises a middle finger at the monarchy and pays tribute to black women who have shaped history, from the radical activist and scholar Angela Davis to Yaa Asantewaa, who fought British colonialists in Ghana in 1900.

‘My Queen Is Harriet Tubman’, inspired by the American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, sees the London troupe on blistering form, somehow aligning their red-hot take on jazz with the syncopation and bounce of dance music, as if imagining a fusion with a producer like Karizma or the hard, percussive side of the UK funky. You can literally hear the sparks fly on this one, a banger that detonates right at the heart of the thriving British jazz scene. Seb Wheeler

​Be Careful 'Cardi B'

The boldness and clarity of ‘Be Careful’ really shook up my thoughts on what I should be accepting in a relationship. I'm definitely not the only person who has gone through relationship woes, but I certainly never had the power that Cardi has to make this kind of song. ‘Be Careful’ came out in relation to the allegations that her now husband, Migos’ Offset, has previously cheated on her with a couple of strippers. We weren’t really shocked, because #MenAreTrash, but we were surprised that Cardi stayed. Especially because in ‘Bodak Yellow’ she told us that she’s quick to cut a guy off if he gets comfortable. But unfortunately we are all guilty of being fools for love, so we eventually understood her decision. But, thanks to ‘Be Careful’, it’s a relief that she didn't let him get away with it completely.

Cardi has become the spokesperson for us women who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable but still bold enough to tell a man the truth. She’s brave in the fact she wants love, but aware of the value she holds. And this song represents that, as a woman, you may have the remind your man of what he could stand to lose. You have to remind him to be careful. Hannah Olarewaju

Wen ‘Time || Think’

Sometimes a song snippet or a LP teaser is enough to send you sideways if you’re an emotional listener like me. For lack of a better term, these visceral, heart-wrenching cuts are often few and far between when it comes to your usual troupe of dance music favourites. But when it comes to Wen and his cross-genre mutation of club, grime and sheer melancholic magic, it’s this knee-jerk emotional reaction that’s become something of a trademark for the respected artist.

His latest release ‘Time II Think’, is our first glimpse into his forthcoming album ‘EPHEM:ERA’ – landing July 6 on Big Dada. Drawing on old-skool rave influences, a muffled 4/4, and a sense of cinematic, mind-bending drama, the melodic cut captures the intoxicating climax of a club night – sweaty bodies coming up, dark, smoke-filled rooms and euphoric tension in the air. So sit back, close your eyes, and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Wen. Jasmine Kent-Smith

Unknown Artist (Digwah) 'Ijzeren Rots'

While the mysterious vinyl-only imprint Digwah first emerged in 2016 with a pair of single sided 12”s that were played by the stripped-back house heads like Ricardo Villalobos and Enzo Siragusa, two producers rumoured to be behind the material, the label took off and record hounds were left salivating at the thought of the next release. That said, their thirst was quenched earlier this year when the imprint released ‘Ijzeren Rots’, another single side vinyl-only release which offers a raw house edit featuring the unmistakable melody and elements of ‘Riders On The Storm’ by The Doors. If a raver found themselves at Sunwaves this year, they undoubtedly heard this track played as the sun was dipping below or peeking up over the horizon. It’s a track not without controversy either, as some say it’s too simple while other marvel at it’s beautiful melodies, chugging bass and captivating rhythms. Polarising yes, but one cannot argue the powerful effect ‘Ijzeren Rots’ has on the dancefloor. Harrison Williams

​Oneohtrix Point Never 'Black Snow'

Inhales, exhales and the snapping of fingers. What initially begins as a wispy, hazy lullaby guided by an android-esque Daniel Lopatin, crescendos into a gritty, apocalyptic soundscape to where Lopatin’s voice remains unhinged in the face of an inevitable, if not already apparent-planetary demise. Reportedly influenced by a Cybernetic Culture Research Unit essay entitled ‘Channel Zero’, this cybernetic collectedness among the ruins; magnetic shadows’ and harrowing shivers, rasps, wheezes and cries document OPN’s continued relationship with, and ability to construct, luscious and emotive auditory landscapes through an unrivalled understanding of contemporary technologies. Lawrence Abbott

JD Reid 'XXL' feat Fatima

UK! UK! UK! This country does have some amazing artists, doesn't it? So when two - one an in-demand producer and the other a smooth operating vocalist - come together, the result was always going to be an instant favourite for me. 'Xxl' just makes you feel good. Like, really good. Its from-the-off bass kicks rumble through you to make you feel all fuzzy, Fatima's gentle vocals stroke like a feather to the face and subtle percussive taps sprinkle you with calm. Don't be expecting to hear this rattling through the club, but the morning-after-the-night-before-hangovers get that little bit easier with this one oozing through your speakers, trust me. Dave Turner

​Raveena 'Honey'

Zen can be a hard thing to achieve what with all the political strife, rising living costs, traffic, pollution and Love Island fans in the world. But there's hope for those looking for an oasis among the hectic day-to-day and it comes in the form of New York singer Raveena Aurora's 'Honey'. With a voice as delicate as the wings of a butterfly and an aesthetic preaching earth goddess, Raveena runs through breathy passages about her lover oozing as much sex as any peak D'Angelo cut while still remaining sweet and innocent. Set to twinkling rhodes, fluttering harps and trilling flutes more commonly associated with Disney princess' being dressed by cartoon animals, an immaculately smoky drum kit and the smoothest bass licks ever laid down make sure the track still bumps and grinds just like a proper R&B jam should. Be in the present, listen to Raveena. Louis Anderson-Rich

Youandwean 'Insel 2000’

In an effort to "blur the boundaries between traditional artist albums and mix compilations," Aus Music label head Will Saul released 'Inside Out' - a rare album that features nothing but new and unreleased music. featuring the likes of Lone, Pearson Sound, Move D, Gerd, Martyn, Falty DL, Dauwd, Appleblim and Marquis Hawkes. The standout tune from this marvellous 23-track compilation is Youandewan's dreamy and luminous contribution 'Insel 2000.' The German artist's deep and subdued musical persona rings true in this bright, supernal and melodic breakbeat composition. Cameron Holbrook

Adam Port, &ME, Rampa ‘Muye’ (Black Coffee Remix)

This year the Keinemusik crew released a catalog of collaborative reworks from some of electronic music’s undeniable masters. The remix compilation featured the likes of DJ Tennis, Solomun, Honey Dijon, and of course afrohouse’s own icon Black Coffee.

Black Coffee first collaborated with Adam Port, &ME and Rampa in 2017 when he invited the trio as guests on his Hï Ibiza residency. Their styles blended effortlessly with vicious, melodic ease and it was only necessary that the artists join forces again. Nathi tackled ‘Muye’ with a minimal approach, letting the track’s key uplifting chords speak for itself while adding his signature touches of depth.

The edit, which made it into countless sets this season, brings a gentle rise in emotion to an already near-perfect anthem. Like any proper collaboration, it showcases the strongest and most notable flavours of each team player with melodic cohesiveness. Sydney Jow

​Bicep - Opal (Four Tet Remix) (Ninja Tune)

This year Four Tet reclaimed his title as supreme producer, with his re-imagining of Belfast duo Bicep’s ‘Opal’. The original features sharp knife-like drum patterns, which Kieran Hebden draws out into an eight-minute percussive masterpiece. The track opens out like a flower blooming, into an ornate mass of soft breaks and twinkling melodies. It is a piece of music, that requires a deeper listen, which throws new sounds at you every time it swirls round your ears. This remix followed the release of Bicep’s critically acclaimed debut album from 2017 on Ninja Tune, yet it stands alone in its own brilliance, as a track that will withhold the test of time. Jaguar Bingham

Scatta 'Break Ur Heart'

‘Break Ur Heart’ by Scatta, a producer from New Jersey and one half of The Heights, is one of the most played tracks of the footwork scene. Since its release and exclusive play on Ashes57’s Radar Radio show, this track has made many appearances on guest mixes and shows within the leftfield bass scene. His use of breaks and sampling from Crystal Waters’ ‘Gypsy Woman’ and Saint Etienne's version of 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ merges dance classic with robotic vocals that make you want to skank out when the track drops. Check out Scatta’s latest 'Disquiet' EP. Sherelle Thomas

Burna Boy 'Rock Your Body'

The ultimate king of sexy afrobeats, Burna Boy never disappoints. Burna released his album ‘Outside’ earlier this year and with it came a whole host of songs that you can wine your waist to. The record obviously became more popular due to the whole Kanye West ‘Ye’ situation, but that’s a positive thing as it’s definitely time for Burna to experience more mainstream commercial success. With his signature blend of dancehall, reggae and afrobeats, Burna’s tunes are instantly recognisable.

‘Rock Your Body’ really sums up the vibe that he brings to the music scene. He celebrates women, life and dancing – encouraging everyone to just rock their body. Produced by Juls, who is also another slayer in the afrobeats world, the two have really created a masterpiece. Already surpassing 3 million plays on Spotify, I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this song is a banger.

Burna has certainly become more favourable than from the days of ‘Tonight’ and ‘Like To Party’. And with his new releases we have seen a more matured artist sonically and lyrically, while staying fiercely consistent with his delivery. Whether he’s playing live or you’re hearing him through your headphones, Burna is surely going to move your body in some sort of fashion. It’s actually blasphemy if you don’t. Hannah Olarewaju

​Sharda & Shanique Marie ‘Wanna Know'

Enter June and we were getting dangerously far through the year with no confirmed Summer Banger™ - the one track that everyone rallies around and agrees as the universal soundtrack for portable speakers in parks, stereos in cars with the windows rolled down and sodcasting phones on bus back seats. Well, light the fire place and send out the white smoke signal, as the latest drop on Swing Ting ‘Wanna Know’ from Sharda and Shanique Marie arrived five days into the month to take the crown. The Equiknoxx vocalist’s blisteringly cool delivery cackles and glides across Sharda’s beat of bright chords, two-stepping percussion and bassline throbs, making for an irresistible cut of bubbling UKG that’s tailor-made for endless reloads to supply positive NRG fuel in the sunny season. Patrick Hinton

DJ Koze 'Pick Up'

It’s almost no surprise that in a year as tumultuous as 2018, that the crowd favourite from DJ Koze’s widely beloved ‘Knock Knock’ album is the perfectly simple and disco-tinged ‘Pick Up’. Stripped back to a playful, upbeat loop, Koze nails what bittersweet as a feeling sounds like with the addition of a ‘72 vocal from Gladys Knight. It’s no surprise that ‘Pick Up’ has become a impeccable peak tune across dance floor’s this year - Koze has been teasing this tune as an ID in his sets years prior to the release of the album…and it turns out, good things come to those who wait. Valerie Lee

​Lucky Charmz 'Sun Mountain'

"Oh great another disco edit", I hear you sigh but bear with me. While the 'disco tech' sound has definitely been at the forefront of this summer's MO, what Lehult's Lucky Charmz brings with 'Sun Mountain' is that organic touch, one rooted in the humanised chopping and cutting of an MPC that let's the sample do the talking rather than squashing it with big beefy drums. The drops are similarly understated dropping out to a surging bassline than into the thick of the sample. The whole reeks of sun-drenched afternoons soaked in Aperol as much as it does late night summer eves under fairy lights and an oversized disco ball. It's one of the tunes of the year because every summer needs a beautiful disco banger and this is it. Louis Anderson-Rich

Janelle Monae 'Pynk'

Janelle Monae says she considers herself “a free motherfucker”. A black, queer American woman, Monae’s spoken about her hope to be a representative for the marginalised. 'Pynk' is Monae at her upmost free motherfuckerness, and it makes its listener feel the same. I wasn’t sure what it was I was feeling when I heard the first bar of her song ‘Pynk’, but when the lyrics kicked in I realised - it was love.

’Pynk’ is unapologetically, powerfully, feminine and queer. Incredibly sexy and suggestive lyrics are delivered by a soft, gentle feminine voice. The beat grabs you as soon as the song opens. Something about it, with its sound of fingers clicking, feels like someone is suggestively whispering it in your ear. Put lyrics like ‘pynk like the inside of your…’ over the top, and it becomes almost pornographic (but in the most tasteful way).

The song is also so much more than just sexy, its a reclamation of ‘Pink’, a reclamation of all the feminine symbolism so deeply tied into it. The music video is a group of black female dancers in the desert, wearing trousers that look like vaginas. The song is a celebration of all the power and strength of a woman. The bodies and sexualities of her and her dancers no one’s but their own, for the enjoyment of themselves and not onlookers. Tie all this empowerment and politics into a song that, when it comes down to it, is a great beat, with simple but powerful lyrics, that peaks and dips just as it should, and you’ve got a pretty good recipe for a banger. And it does what only the best songs do - it leaves you with a lasting feeling, a feeling of strength and power, a feeling of freedom. Abigail Wishart

​Oklou ‘Friendless’ (NUXXE)

NUXXE is an imprint boisterously growing in strength and sound as of late, releasing killer projects from label co-founders Shygirl and coucou chloe alongside Oklou’s ‘The Rite Of May’ over the past year or so. The latter project landed back in March to relatively quiet acclaim, however as someone who loves both dancefloor dramatics and introverted ambience in equal measures the assured release soon found its way nestled into my daily music collection.

Not quite post-Night Slugs experimental bass, not quite coffee table, James Blake-esque croonings, the soft yet powerful project discussed topics such as loneliness throughout the six tracks. With titles such as ‘They Can’t Hear Me’ and ‘Friendless’, the stripped back club ballads meld high-octane Rustie-like energy and maximalism produced in collaboration with the likes of Bok Bok and fellow NUXXE boss Sega Bodega with icy lullaby vocals in the best way possible. On ‘Friendless’ Oklou’s mission statement rings loud and clear as she lays her heart on the line, and her vocals above that hazy dreamscape beat. Jasmine Kent-Smith

​Will DiMaggio 'Steppin W Friends'

House music might have been created in nightclubs for going hard all night long, but that doesn't mean there can't be house tunes to wrap you up in cotton wool as you enter recovery mode after a rowdy workout on the dancefloor. US producer Will DiMaggio's 'Steppin W Friends' does just that, the gloriously smooth, floating pads both massaging the mind and giving you that much-needed musical cuddle. Combine that with delicate percussive hits and the choppy vocal sample and you're well on your way back to peak condition. I reckon this one's going to be on repeat all festival season and probably once summer's finished to keep the sun-kissed vibes rolling. Dave Turner

Janine 'Never The Right Time'

Janine is my favourite find of 2018 thanks to her soulful, strong voice, ultra sexual appeal and new-woman lyrics. Janine has come in hard on her last couple of releases, and now with new album ‘99’ out she really steps into the musical ring with some fight.

Lyrically, Janine is in a league of her own. Clearly a heartbreak album going by the song titles, if you actually take a listen to ‘99’ you’ll find that Janine is the one doing most of the heartbreaking. A completely different concept from most mainstream music, she speaks of not rushing into being in love, of not being the right woman for her man, of identifying that her love is unstable but mostly she sings with an overwhelming confirmation that she just wants to be by herself.

In ‘Never The Right Time’ there is no exception. Carrying on with the theme of the album, she doesn't think it’s the right time for a relationship due to reasons she doesn't actually explain. But the song is almost like a release for her to say that even though she loves someone and wants to be with them, it’s just not the right time. “I could hold you down, but it’s never the right… Never the right time,” she sings to her would-be lover.

Truly an icon for the women who don’t like to rush into relationships, she really sets herself apart with this song. Hannah Olarewaju

​Rich Nxt 'Serious'

NxT label boss and Fuse resident Rich Nxt has been known to whip up tracks that work dancefloors into a frenzy and this year he was back at it, returning to Enzo Siragusa’s Fuse imprint after two years with ‘The Brigade’ EP. Each of the three tracks serve a purpose on the dancefloor, but the vocal laden ‘Serious’ proved to be a standout weapon. The proof was clear, at a Fuse party Rich would drop this track and later after all artists had played, ‘Serious’ would be tune they’d leave still begging for. Bumping bass, intricate percussive riffs, subtle piano stabs and a slightly distorted retro vocal, a track that will be on year end lists as it continues to make its rounds during the Ibiza and festival seasons. Harrison Williams

Pablo Fierro ‘Kalaa’

Perhaps an underdog of the bunch, Pablo Fierro’s ‘Kalaa’ is a truly mind-bending record - starting with an ominous drumming title that rings across quiet, chanting vocals, each second airy spurts of force grow with increasing power before revealing the track’s key spiraling melody.

Ushering to the masses via Compost’s Black Label release series, Fierro offers an exemplary showcase of percussive variety, with some arrangements appearing almost creamy, others thundering like a storm and some playful, bouncing with brightness. A production that manages to be menacing without the metallic elements of other electronic pieces, expanding with a unique and spiritual surge of energy. Sydney Jow

​Wajatta ‘Runnin’

Prolific techno producer John Tejada and comedian-musician Reggie Watts have mashed their names and talents together for a collaborative electronic project called Wajatta. Releasing their debut album 'Casual High Technology' this year via the independent comedy imprint Comedy Dynamics, the duo's lead single 'Runnin'' is a frenetic and expeditious electro-pop tune with a sweet serving of modern funk and soul. Watts’ beatbox aptitude and immense vocal range swim above Tejada’s precise melodic constructions in a warm and inviting fashion while managing to maintain an air of unfamiliarity that is truly magnetic. Cameron Holbrook

Shygirl ‘O’

The second track ‘O’ on NUXXE’s genre-splitting fourth release ‘Cruel Practice’ celebrates South-London’s Shygirl’s avant-garde-authoritarianistic style. The bassy, screwface-inducing percussive warzone that NUXXE co-founder Sega Bodega produces on this track is as domineering as the seductively-declarative statements that Shygirl poetically places over two and a half minutes. In what could easily be a standalone bass production, the subject matter that Shygirl so well delegates between is that of ambiguity and provocativeness. It’s a testament to her as an artist to be able to remain so established against such an intimidatingly chaotic backdrop. Lawrence Abbott

Mandar 'String Theory'

String Theory is exactly the kind of track I find myself drawn to, and since finallygetting my hands on a copy it has become one of the most played records I own. Offering itself as much more than just the club cut it undeniably is, the ethereal strings and melodic sounds give it an added dimension that has allowed me to be able to listen to it no matter my mood or where I am. Whilst there is no denying the track’s viability as one that would get a dance floor moving as much as any summer anthem, from my first listen I knew that what Mandar had created was much more than just a song for dark, crowded rooms and main room raving.

After visiting Ibiza for the first time in a couple of years this month, this track became part of the soundtrack. Complimenting all aspects, from the drives in search of secret beaches and Es Vedra views, to watching the sunrise after dancing all night at Circoloco. The trio have once again proved that there’s more to their style ofproduction than just making club tracks. Lucy St John

Krystal Klear 'Neutron Dance'

We’ll keep this one short and sweet.

This is 2018’s ‘Final Credits'.


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