Indietronica and glitch hop are two loosely defined genres that can be hard to find, but they are very easy to get into if you know where to look. In 2011, the scene witnessed an abundance of new talent as well as the return of older acts to new levels of prominence. Since there is a lot of cross-over between the two genres, we combined them into one chart highlighting the cream of the crop in 2011.
James Pants – Clouds Over the Pacific
James Pants - Clouds Over the Pacific [Stones Throw]
Starting off, we have James Pants, who joined the ranks of LA’s Stones Throw Records. It was interesting to see an artist like James release on a label that is best known for some of the top names in the underground hip hop scene, including the late J. Dilla, Madlib, and MF DOOM, but the marriage certainly worked. James made our list for the easygoing Clouds Over the Pacific from his self-titled debut album. It has a quite a fitting name, with its light string melodies carrying even lighter female vocals.
Two Inch Punch – Love You Up (Original Mix)
Two Inch Punch - Love You Up (Original Mix)
London’s Ben Ash, aka Two Inch Punch, may only have a little over a thousand likes on his Facebook page, but he’s definitely got the chops for a much bigger career. His blissful track Love You Up is clear evidence of his talent, and is arguably some of the sexiest glitch hop ever released. If you’re new to this style of beats, Two Inch Punch is certainly a great “gateway" artist. Be sure get the whole Love You Up EP here.
Star Slinger – Mornin’
Star Slinger - Mornin'
Coming in next on the list at #13 is Mornin’ by Star Slinger. Mornin’ was a huge hit in the blogosphere, making Star Slinger an overnight success that launched a subsequent tour. Maybe it’s the joyous melodies and vocals of the song, or maybe because it’s the fact that it sounds downright fresh. Whatever the secret sauce is, its success has earned it a spot on this year’s chart.
KOAN Sound – Funk Blaster (Original Mix)
KOAN Sound - Funk Blaster (Original Mix) [OWSLA]
There sure is a lot of talent coming from Bristol right now, and acts like Jim Bastow and Will Weeks of KOAN Sound are leading the way. They recently were added to Skrillex’s label OWSLA, which also includes names like Porter Robinson, Zedd, and Kill The Noise. The title track of their Funk Blaster EP throws down the motherlode of juicy funk, and its trippy music video is quite the adventure through the world of strange. Don’t miss your chance to experience their creative sound live on their current US tour.
Phaeleh ft. Soundmouse – The Cold In You (Original Mix)
Phaeleh feat Soundmouse - The Cold In You (Original Mix) [Afterglo]
Want a little more indie in your dubstep? Phaeleh is quite adept at reaching in and striking your emotional chords with deep, moving vocal productions like The Cold In You. Phaeleh once again invited the beautiful voice of Soundmouse, with whom he previously recorded breakthrough masterpiece Afterglow. The Cold In You holds a kind of addictive synergy that is formed between the track’s slapping percussion and peaceful piano roll–“indiestep" at its finest.
Digitalism – 2 Hearts
Digitalism - 2 Hearts
Breaking into the top 10, we have the return of German electro-punk duo Digitalism. They sparked an uproar with the release of the album I Love You, Dude, which tore up festivals and large venues across the globe. Perhaps the biggest single was the catchy 2 Hearts, an ode to that special someone in everyone’s life. Light drum patterns and synth melodies float around the track surrounded by a poignant guitar that provides a gentle tug on the strings of your heart. 2 Hearts also has a comical music video that features the duo fighting off green monsters with lightsabers.
Radiohead – Bloom (Objekt Remix)
Radiohead - Bloom (Objekt Remix) [Ticker Tape]
Radiohead’s sublime King of Limbs album received a special redux from a very special selection of the industry’s best electronica producers. The list included heavy hitters Four Tet, SBTRKT, and Jamie xx, but one remix stood out amongst all others. Objekt’s remix maintained the musicality of the original while making it danceable at the same time. Techy beats and a twisted lapse in the middle of the song make for a truly unique listening experience that is great headphone music and an equally great jam on the dancefloor.
Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shift (Sonnymoon Remix)
Flying Lotus - Zodiac Shift (Sonnymoon Remix)
A new face to the LA beat scene, Sonnymoon emerged from their home state of Massachusetts and landed on the iPods of the coolest electronica aficionados. The band, led by vocalist Anna Wise and backed up by some seriously dope jams, ties together beauty and darkness with their haunting productions. The use of Flying Lotus’ original samples is minimal in their remix of Zodiac Shift, with the alien lyrics and ethereal sounds taking the foreground.
The Glitch Mob – We Can Make the World Stop
The Glitch Mob - We Can Make the World Stop [Glass Air]
Edward Ma, Josh Mayer, and Justin Boreta make up the notorious Glitch Mob trio, who soared to great heights last year with their We Can Make the World Stop EP. The title track saw tremendous success, including getting featured in an action-packed digital camera commercial by GoPro. The refreshing tune also has its own music video that depicts an unusual story of a young gang member getting trained in a mystical form of martial arts where he learns how to levitate objects.
Paper Diamond – Levitate
Paper Diamond - Levitate [Pretty Lights]
With all of the great talent coming out of Colorado, this list would seem incomplete without including one of its frontrunners. Paper Diamond, signed to Pretty Lights’ label, sent his debut EP out into the world this past year. The title track, Levitate, will probably make you do just that–levitate out of your seat. From the smooth-as-silk intro to the dark drops and progressions, Paper Diamond takes you on a complete journey–something exceedingly difficult to do in just over three minutes.
Purity Ring – Lofticries
Purity Ring - Lofticries [Fat Possum]
Climbing quickly to the top we have breakthrough band Purity Ring and their ghostly web hit Lofticries. The sleeper hit is continuing to reach millions of hits on YouTube, including one must-see music video featuring clips from a 1970s Swedish film named Thriller: A Cruel Picture. When playing live, Purity Ring uses an intriguing pipe-assembly instrument to produce their melodies. Be sure to check out their current US tour schedule to see if they’re coming to a city near you.
M83 – Midnight City
M83 - Midnight City [MUTE]
Anthony Gonzalez and the sound of M83 came back strong in 2011 with his two-disc album Echoes of Mine. Epic first single Midnight City went huge, with mainstream radio play and an amazing music video featuring children escaping a laboratory and practicing telekinesis on inanimate objects. M83 is definitely a live act worth seeing if you can catch him on his present tour that includes stops at both Ultra Music Festival in Miami and Coachella in SoCal this year.
TOKiMONSTA ft. Gavin Turek – Darkest (Dim)
TOKiMONSTA feat Gavin Turek - Darkest (Dim) [Brainfeeder]
If there’s one song that merits the word "chill," then TOKiMONSTA’s Darkest (Dim) takes the cake. The song, featured on her critically acclaimed Creature Dreams EP, proved to be one of the most beautiful songs released this year across any genre. Darkest (Dim) is a great reflection of the EP as a whole, so if you dig it, then you’ll definitely dig what else she has in store for you.
SBTRKT – Pharaohs
SBTRKT - Pharaohs [Young Turks]
It’s hard to believe that around this time last year, SBTRKT was a relatively underground act. Now, after dropping his stellar debut album, that’s all changed. His fame and success have skyrocketed, making him one of the most in-demand acts at EDM and indie festivals alike. If there’s any one track to sum up the album, it’s Pharaohs. Minimal yet soulful, jazzy yet sophisticated, Pharaohs is the essence of SBTRKT’s sound–a sound that is very likely to shape the trend of UK and American producers in 2012.
Burial – Shell of Light (Shlohmo Remix)
Burial - Shell of Light (Shlohmo Remix)
New York City’s Henry Laufer earns our number one spot for his magnificent remix of Shell Of Light by the renowned Burial. Under his producer name Shlohmo, Henry directed the 2007 original’s sound in a supremely smooth direction by delicately weaving in cooing voice samples between rolling drum patterns. Good news too–it’s free! You can grab a copy of the mp3 by heading over to his webpage.