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Top 20 Electronic Tracks of 2010

Holy Fuck, Soundlab 9/20/2010 Photo by Ben Gardner

A new decade is upon us and it screams in electronic tones. Electronic music is simultaneously a very broad category and a very narrow category. House, IDM, Techno, Electronica, Electropop. Now-a-days it all falls under one umbrella term: electronic, but the specifications can vary dramatically. Vocals? Organic isntruments? Abelton Live? Turntables? There will inevitably be some awesome tracks left out here, but lets just say these the best “electronic” tracks of 2010 to rock out to when you need to escape and lose yourself in music. Please share your own favorites as well, I would love to hear what I’ve missed out on this year!

20. “Die Slow” (Tobacco remix) by Health from DISCO 2

This song is neither Health nor Tobacco, but something inbetween. Tobacco sampled his own track “Creepy Phone Calls,” from his latest album, Maniac Meat, and laid over the vocals from Health’s “Die Slow,” creating a whole track that trancends it’s own parts.

19. “Access Granted” by Emeralds from Does It Look Like I’m Here?

You will float away. Listen to this electronic pulsed ambient track with a pair of good headphones and it will send you to the moon.

18. “Lucky 1” by Avey Tare from Down There

With Down There and the album’s first track “Lucky 1,” Avey Tare proves that Panda Bear is not the only brains in psychelectrorock outfit Animal Collective.

17. “I Feel Better” by Hot Chip from One Life Stand

I totally disregarded this track, until I saw the music video, featuring Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Watch the video for “I Feel Better” and you will know exactly who Hot Chip are. The contrast between their futuristic auto-tuned synthtronica sound and the home-video quality of their music video is similar to drinking a beer in the shower. It’s just so cool and warm at the same time. This will make you laugh and cry.

16. “Intimate” by Crystal Castles from Crystal Castles [2010]

So satisfyingly dark and uptempo. This is a track I would love to hear in the middle of a crowd of drunk people at Soundlab or any hot club on a Friday night at the peak of a DJ set.

15. “Silvo” by Jon McMillion from Jon McMillion LP

At 9:11 in length, “Silvo” takes a little bit of commitment, but the pay off is rewarding. New rythms and subtle beat changes are discovered during each listen.

14. “Motorlicker” by Tobacco from Maniac Meat

This track is as heavy as they come. Don’t blow the sub woofers in your car.

13. “Latin America” by Holy Fuck from LP

One of the best electronic live bands on the scene… and they wouldn’t be caught dead touching a computer on stage. Expereince “Latin America” on record in your living room, but go out of your way to see it live.

12. “Hubble” by Actress from Splazsh.

Don’t listen to this one alone. Or in the dark, because this track can be frightening in the wrong atmosphere (and it is hard to tell what exatly is the right atmosphere for a track like this is, but it deserves to be heard). Think of that scene in Mission to Mars when Tim Robbins is suddenly unteathered and floating off into oblivion in his space suit. Now imagine floating away forever and you’ve got the idea that “Hubble” seems to convey.

11. “Heartbeats” by Grum from Heartbeats

This is dancefloor music at its best. “Heartbeats” may not be the most original sounding song on this list (it is in fact part of a DJ set), but it is brand new and gauranteed to satisfy any dance crowd.

10. “Plug Me In” by Squarepusher from Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator

Ummm… Squarepusher? Yes, it is him, but hes adorned a space suit and is now accompanied by a band of mystery musicians. Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator may have been slightly panned by critics, but “Plug Me In,” the opening track of the album is unlike anything else (except Daft Punk). Okay, so he has a robot voice and he’s wearing a glow in the dark helmet, but that doesn’t mean the slow motion, bass melting, dark electropop on the track is any less impressive and absorbing.

9. VCR (Four Tet remix) by The xx

This track may have been written by The xx, but this spectral and floating remix is 90 percent Four Tet. One of his best tracks of the year and it doesn’t appear on his full length, let alone his setlist.

8. Stick To My Side by Pantha Du Prince from Black Noise

The darkly minimalistic and fidgety sound of the first half of “Stick To My Side” can be quite hypnotizing. Approximately 2 minutes and 28 seconds into the track Pantha Du Prince lets up and partly resolves the darkness before unleashing a hooky chorus of “stick to my side” sung by Panda Bear of Animal Collective.

7. “Horse” by Brian Eno from Small Craft on a Milk Sea

Is this really the Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno that we have come to know and recognize? Yes, this is so incredibly Eno because it is so unexpected yet cutting-edge at the same time. With the help of downtempo electronic mastermind apprentice, Jon Hopkins, Eno released this abrasive and compelling single

6. “The Drug” by Royksopp from Senior

This one slipped in late, but it should not be missed. Royksopp’s latest album could be his most impressive to date. It was rather difficult to pick just one song from it to put on this list, but “The Drug” with it’s soft pillowy bass and repetitive, minimalistic tones, begs to be played on repeat throughout the sheltered winter.

5. “Derezzed” by Daft Punk from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack

“Derezzed” is exactly what any Daft Punk fan could have hoped for from the Tron Legacy soundtrack. Though it only comes in at 1 minute and 44 seconds, this is the bass pulsing, club gem we’ve come to expect from the Robots.

4. “In Motion” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from The Social Network Soundtrack

David Fincher, director of The Social Network (and Fight Club, Seven, and Panic Room among other films) could have easily slapped a college rock soundtrack on his latest film about the founding of Facebook and it probably would have made a lot of sense. But he didn’t. Instead he hired Trent Reznor to write a haunting, trance-inducing near-house epic that set the dark tone of the film.

3. “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem from This Is Happening

The moment I heard the beat for Dance Yrself Clean I knew James Murphy had done it again. The first track on LCD Soundsystem’s hugely anticipated third album was Murphy’s ace in the hole. It’s not a single by any means, but it is surely the most creative track from Murphy and the gang, complete with witty rants about cleansing yourself of extraneous thoughts while entranced on the dance floor, losing yourself to just such a track. Pump the volume for the first verse and be blown away by the second.

2. “Sun” by Caribou from Swim

Caribou will wrap your mind around the earth twice with this track. Increible on mp3. Life chaning in person. Caribou ends his live set with this track and it leaves the audience in awe everytime. (After witnessing this song live, first hand, I must say that I have never stood in front of a band, watched them play a song, and been completely dumbfounded by how they made each and every sound, until then.)

1. “Love Cry” by Four Tet from There Is Love In You

The spectrum of love portrayed on Kieran Hebden’s, aka Four Tet’s 2010 release, There Is Love In You, ranges from the nearly unberable love one can feel for a newborn child, as heard on “Pablo’s Heart,” a 13 second sample of Hebden’s godson’s heartbeat, to the paralyzing desperation felt by a lonely, exploited club girl, looking for someone to love, if only for one night as on “Love Cry.” From the strange and quiet buzzing at the opening of “Love Cry”, to the stammered beat and the sinister sounding sythn tones, the track waxes and wanes perfectly throughout. And it never totally breaks through. Hebden holds something back, and that is what keeps the track fresh. The beat alone is so utterly satisfying that when the synth finally drops and those haunting love cries shout out, you’ve already been emersed.

—cory perla