Halfway through 2017 and it's been nothing short of a fantastic for dance music. The greatness however lies not with the names that occupy billboards or Vegas LED walls, but rather side stages and underground events that always fly under the radar. Gorillaz long awaited Humanz was a dud, Deadmau5‘s lazy compilation of backcatalogued tunes was quickly forgotten, and The Chainsmokers‘ Memories…Do Not Open is the staple of cheeseball radio fodder. Luckily there have been a plethora of works from longtime industry greats who are finally strutting their stuff with full length releases that sound better with each play. Here are 5 albums of 2017 you SHOULD be listening to right now!
Lee Foss – Alchemy (Emerald City Music)
Lee Foss has been killin the house scene for many years. As the co-founder of the Hot Creations, Lee has distinct taste for funky beats. Alchemy is his first full studio release, paying tribute to the retro, disco-esque sounds that made his hometown of Chicago the birthplace of house music decades ago. Extra icing on this warm and juicy cake include some great vocal tracks with Anabel Englund, Safiya, and Alex Nazar who's featured on my personal favorite track on the record, “Living In The City”. Easily one of the funnest and most addicting albums of the year.
Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite (LuckMe.)
Even though no track on this album surpasses four and half minutes, Jacques Greene's first studio release is not for ADD listeners. Emotionally gripping and brilliantly blending genres like garage, deep techno, and neo-soul, Feel Infinite is truly an eclectic album that's perfect for 2017. Greene expertly guides listeners through various ups and downs, going from the ambient and moody “True” right into the dramatic and thumping “I Won't Judge” then back into a downtempo atmosphere with “Dundas Collapse”. It's the sign of a truly great sound designer and any electronica fan will be quite rewarded to devoting time to Feel Infinite.
Sian – Capital Crimewave (Octopus Records)
Techno bigshot Sian's Capital Crimewave is hard even for heavy techno imprint Octopus Records. More reminiscent of the Boys Noize Records style, Capital Crimewave provides more than enough dark, analog style, acid washed techno with boulder sized beats from beginning to end. Where Sian really steps out of the box is how he breaks up what would be a very monotonous streak of heavy techno with equally sizable hip hop tracks featuring AG Fernandez, who MCs on 8 of the 20 tunes. Think Brodinki's Brava with a greater emphasis on techno. There's enough heat on this album to blow out your eardrums for days. Great work from one of the best in the game.
Calibre – The Deep (Signature)
Every true drum & bass fan knows of Calibre. He's George Washington in the Mt. Rushmore of liquid funk DnB. Calibre has been pioneering the sound for over a decade but The Deep shows that he is in no way losing his touch. The creme de la creme of liquid is here with tunes like “Up In Smoke”, “Mr. Natural”, and “Echoes” giving fanboys everything they love about the genre. Even if you're not a huge follower the sound, The Deep is just so well made and paced without a single weak tune on it. If you don't listen to liquid, this could be the release that converts you.
Lusine – Sensorimotor (Ghostly International)
Texas born Jeff McIllwain has been producing his unique brand of melodic, abrasive electronica under the moniker Lusine (originally spelled L'usine) since the late 90s. He's one of the unsung heroes of the dance music world but hopefully this latest release starts to get him more of the attention he deserves. Sensorimotor is among the most highly hypnotic and pleasurable audio experiences you can undergo. Not a single track on this album is ordinary and oftentimes you'll wonder if you're still listening to same artist. The assortment of bright and strange sounds at various different tempos and moods that range from ambient chill-out to uplifting progressive. Sensorimotor gives listeners a sense of wonder and introspection that comes around once in a blue moon. Lusine has a great catalog, even from years back, but this may be his most complete and polished work yet.