LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2012 (1-5)

05. Head High, “Rave” (Dirt Mix)
[Power House] (buy)

They say that if you’re really taken by a record upon its first hearing, then you’ll soon grow tired of it. There’s a certain amount of truth in that, and a result, only a select few tunes have it in them to hit as hard the first time as they will do the last. If anyone was going to achieve this in the realm of pounding electronic beats, it was going to be René Pawlowitz. Under the Head High guise, the man more commonly known as Shed set the scene alight this May with one of the most effortlessly simple and heartening slices of techno in recent times. Crucially, it’s magic lies in its barren, unassuming start, comprising of a cacophonous wasteland of militant kicks and hasty, hurried snares. Two minutes in however, and from the cavernous recesses ascends an arrangement of stabs so delectable and so instantly (and eternally) gratifying that they genuinely feel familiar. I just wish the first time I’d experienced that moment had been on the dance floor. (Carlos Hawthorn)

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04. Anthony Naples, “Mad Disrespect”
[Mister Saturday Night Records] (buy)

To those who have ever attended wild NYC-based Mister Saturday Night parties, it was probably not a surprise that its makers decided to start their own label, as well. What surprises though, is their enigmatic choice of a newcomer — Anthony Naples — on their very first release. With three outstanding tracks on this 12″, he’s managed to bring serious attention from the heads to the nascent label, turning his “Mad Disrespect” track into something of a summer anthem. Its rubber ball bleeps, lush and warm house chords, handclaps and soulful vocal chops make this moody interplay sound easy. More important to the dance floor, though, is the author’s rhythmic sensibility, which finds the funk in everything from shuffling NYC and New Jersey influences to jazz and disco. Brimming with scissoring cymbals and syncopated hi-hats, he manages to balance a wonderfully spacious combination of crackling, pensive house flavors with one of the most intoxicating vocal earworms of 2012. What’s so striking about it is the way it imagines club music not as series of peaks and troughs, but as a breathing communal feeling in a constant state of flux, glowing with romantic love. As it was said in LWE’s review earlier this year, “Mad Disrespect” may be among his very first tracks, but it hints at Naples as being one unexpectedly mature producer indeed, leaving us in eager expectation of his further ventures.
(Dino Lalic)

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03. Joy Orbison, “Ellipsis”
[Hinge Finger] (buy)

Whether or not he intended to, Peter O’Grady laid out something of a manifesto when he wrote “Ellipsis.” The vocal sample at its core, taken from an interview with Source Direct’s Phil Aslett back in 1996, seemed to speak directly to the British producer’s aims: “We just used to like, do our own thing.” It’s said with a kind of nonchalance that lines up nicely with Joy Orbison’s casual approach to rearranging how we think about house music. He might just be making tunes, but as wildly memorable as they are, their impact is felt much more widely than the average 12″ — especially “Ellipsis.” People have been losing their minds to its rapidly shrugging bass line and chopping the air in time to its swinging katana hi-hats since it began making the rounds in 2011, yet I’ve seen no evidence of it losing its appeal throughout 2012. Perhaps that’s because O’Grady doesn’t trade in trendy tropes or subscribe to genre conventions. “Ellipsis” thoughtfully pulls from the entire arsenal of dance music’s past in preparation for the future, applying each element with such grace and benevolence it’s easy to remember what each sounds like without an audible reminder. Seriously, who can forget the first time they heard its liberating piano chords ring out? It’s the kind of thing even scrupulous producers might try to imitate in their own work, if not for that nagging vocal reminder that doing your own thing and doing it well is much more valuable and rewarding. Even though “Ellipsis” was one of the most difficult big records to snag this year, I sense it’s already earned its place in dance music history and so in a way, it already belongs to all of us. (Steve Mizek)

02. Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse”
[Smalltown Supersound] (buy)

Some masterpieces sound tortured. “Inspector Norse,” very possibly Todd Terje’s finest moment yet, sounds anything but. With its easy hook and liberal dousing of schmaltz, it’s not hard to see why the track has been lodged in our collective unconscious since its release back in January. What’s most impressive — maybe even Terje’s genius stroke — is that we never got sick of it. You could theoretically chalk that up to the sleek sound design and expert synth work underpinning its sugary coating, but I wonder if Terje actually created a disco track so brash, its charms are physically impossible to deny. And when I hear its arpeggios swell to clown-shoe-sized proportions so many months after I first experienced it, that’s the explanation I’m most likely to favor. No matter how dark things got this year, “Inspector Norse” was always there to lighten the load. I’d say it’s what I’d like to remember 2012 by, if the track had managed to leave my head long enough to become a memory in the first place. (Jordan Rothlein)

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01. Andrés, “New For U”
[La Vida] (buy)

This is where weÂ’re supposed to discuss how “”New For U”” is so far removed from most standard house fare; about its ubiquitous bounds, as capable of coaxing a dance floor onto that next plateau as it is in shutting down shop, sending revelers to come down on someone elseÂ’’s time. Or its roots — Andrés lays his head in Detroit and the track embodies the cityÂ’’s soulful propulsion. About its ability to supersede the space–time continuum, sounding like it could’Â’ve been released 20 years ago and worthy of rub 20 years from now. “”New For U”” accomplishes all of that. But it still doesnÂ’’t feel too far removed from most standard house fare. There’Â’s a palpable disco sheen that radiates over a slick tempo, celebratory string swipes, and a barely-there vocal sigh. Oh yeah, and thereÂ’’s handclaps. About 366 of them by my count. So with all that familiarity, what is it that makes AndrésÂ’’ summer (then fall and now winter) anthem so damn delectable? I’Â’ve racked my brain around that quandary for the better part of nine months now and the best answer I can provide is that itÂ’s a result of pure chance. If you dance around an equation for long enough, you’Â’re bound to eventually settle on the perfect formula. And that “”New For U”” sounds like a sermon hand delivered from the mount should be proof enough that not every tune needs a gimmick to succeed. A lesson everybody would be well served by learning from the track of 2012. (Michael C. Walsh)

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Pedro  on December 21, 2012 at 8:17 AM

I’ve seen this top 3 elsewhere…

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 21, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Much to our surprise, this seems to be the consensus top three for a few publications.

Anton  on December 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

it’s never possible to agree with the full list off course, but at least 60% would end up on my own, and some tracks were really impossible to “forget”.
I would pick Ellipsis as my n#1,
but I wrote the comment for one thing only – what did u seen in that Shed track at n#5, I’ve listened to the record many times, and I actually hate it.

I actually know quite a lot of people who hate it. I believe that some unknown artist released it, it would end up on no lists as rubbish!

Tom  on December 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Both the Shed and Joy O are pretty feckless IMO.

dance 'til you're dead  on December 21, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Inspector Norse is a great production, but waaaay too obvious for LWE’s top 5, don’t you think?… c’mon? The campiness, I’m okay with (100%) — it’s shelf life was over-lived though, played and hyped…

…These lists seriously exacerbate all the staid, expected trends, especially in dance music… unless it’s an “underrated tracks list” who cares, we all know these songs already — the point is to introduce new music, not lasso readers into debates.

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 21, 2012 at 5:21 PM

The point of the top 25 tracks list is to highlight our favorites — the consensus points in our editorial staff — not necessarily to expose readers to new things. If it’s too obvious to you, pat yourself on the back for being that much more underground than us.

Jones  on December 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

The Fox New of Tech-House.

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 21, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Who would that be, Jones?

_tatt  on December 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM

I’ll not debate – you’re all cool and is the list.

Thank you.

Heisenberg  on December 21, 2012 at 8:23 PM

I always love these end of year lists, I especially look forward to them, on a few sites, for tunes I’ve missed throughout the year. You guys consistently have the best in the business, nice work.

I was hoping to see “MM KM End to Funk” among the top tracks, surprised to not see it on any list this year. That tune continually amazes me.

Peter  on December 21, 2012 at 9:10 PM

‘New For U’ was the one for me.

Keep up the good content in the new year.

veloziped  on December 22, 2012 at 2:25 AM

thank you Little White Earbuds! I liked your reviews, interviews and features in 2012!

dance 'til you're dead  on December 22, 2012 at 2:45 PM


Pasota  on December 22, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Thanks so much LWE… I’m a huge electronic fan… and although not everyone will agree with all reviews etc(virtually impossible) I highly appreciate the top notch work you fellas put into all of this. It really pays off especially with such a stellar year for minimal, house, experimental etc… I’m also grateful you guys don’t follow all the hype. At the end of the day, you do your own thing and your choices reflect that. Huge year for vinyl as well…almost 75% of my fav’s were vinyl only… thanks for being true to yourselves.. that is the standard.

fader  on December 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM

i didn’t look it up but if i’m correct this is the first year that all the sites i follow (apart from xlr8r) have the same track at #1. crazy.

adit  on December 24, 2012 at 12:44 AM

can’t see what’s special about the anthony naples track. maybe I have to hear it in a club at the right moment?

adam  on December 24, 2012 at 6:14 AM

actually preferred jazz dance from that andres record, f*cking HATE inspector norse as well.

steve  on December 24, 2012 at 4:52 PM

I cant see how a heavily sampled track can be number 1 for the year. Nice track that it is, but should of went to a more original track

Nicholas  on January 14, 2013 at 12:45 AM

I would also say Ellipsis at N°1, this said great charts and great stuff as usual.


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