The sub-genre of deep house/nu-disco has exploded throughout Europe over the last couple of years, but it experienced what was quite possibly its most progressive year in 2012. Similar to the growth of dubstep and traphouse scenes in the recent past, deep house cuts have been blowing up the underground clubs worldwide. Truly, this list was nearly impossible to make up, and I already second-guess myself on a few of the choices. (Hell, as I write this I want to re-do the whole list.) There was just so much good deep house music that came out in 2012; running through my library, I’ve found about fifty songs that should be on this list, spanning through deep tech, nu-disco, and bootytech sub-genres. But, there can only be 12, so here are the best deep house tracks of the year:
12. Ensnare – Julio Bashmore
2012 was a definitive year for Bristolian Julio Bashmore. Hot off a couple extremely successful EPs on Futureboogie Records, Julio has started a record label of his own, Broadwalk Records, which proves to be more promising with each strong release. With sweet soulful lyrics, screaming guitar riffs, and one of the deepest basslines of the year, “Ensnare” encompasses that great Bristol house sound that Julio has been pushing for years. Sampling the soul burner “You to Me Are Everything” by The Real Thing, Julio synthesizes the new with the old perfectly.
11. Games – Infinity Ink
Released on Hot Creation’s Post Summer Sampler EP earlier this year, this track is a great crossover of soul and deep house as well. Masterminds Luca C and Ali Love–known as the duo Infinity Ink–have been making a serious name for themselves with their live shows and great production. The two even joined Jamie Jones and Lee Foss this year to make Hot Natured a four person project, consequently becoming the deep house super-group (a full LP is expected early 2013). “Games” is one of those tracks that you can put on repeat for hours. The catchy lyrics by Ali Love seem almost popish, and truly I think this should have been a cross-over hit.
10. Wonder & Amazement ft. Jeremy Glenn (Deetron Vocal) – Grand Corporation
Deetron essentially stripped down Grand Corporation’s eerie tech house track and added a crazy, funky twist to it. The playful synth-line that builds in the beginning of this song breaks out into an intricate dance-inducing deep house gem. The vocals pop in almost out of nowhere and continue to work in perfect harmony with the background music until the explosive drop of the bass. This song is simply a dance house banger that will get bodies movin’ on the dance floor.
09. Paradise – Jamie Jones
Out of all of Jamie Jones’s releases this year–notably his amazing remix of Disclosure’s “Latch,” his second full-length LP, Tracks From The Crypt, and Changes EP, which dropped via Hot Creations umbrella label Hot Trax–this one is the best in my opinion. The fluttering layers of high synths play off each impeccably and the deep bass is what you would expect from one of the hottest deep house DJ’s out there.
08. Our Time In Liberty (Russ Yallop Remix) – Jamie Jones & Art Department
Whenever there’s a collaboration involving Jamie Jones or Art Department (Kenny Glasgow & Johnny White), the song is simply bound to be a hit. So when the trio teamed up to release “Our Time In Liberty” earlier this year on Crosstown Rebels, it became an instant underground hit. What blew me away even more than the original, though, was the remix that Russ Yallop put out as a B-side to the vinyl.
07. Sex Appeal – Maceo Plex
Eric Estornel has been producing music under the moniker Maetrik for almost two decades now, but has been turning to his deep-house alias, Maceo Plex, more and more over the last couple of years. Released on Crosstown Rebels as a B-side to “Frisky” earlier this year, “Sex Appeal” became one of Beatport’s most charted tracks and catapulted Maceo Plex into deep-house critical acclaim. With curious elements of acid house, excellent sound animation, and a ghostly vocal sample, this song just does it right.
06. Nitelife (Alexis Raphael Remix) – Kim English
This track lulls you in with Kim English’s soulful vocal sample and a peculiar high droning synth, but the bassline that follows after is absolutely menacing. This track would be perfect for a large festival crowd, giving the feeling of a “big room” throughout.
Alexis only started making music last year, but already is showing signs of a matured producer, holding off the “drops” until the anticipation is unbearable. The break in the middle of the song is so perfect that I just had to add it to this list.
05. Jagged Edge – Eats Everything
Eats Everything knows how to party. “Jagged Elbow” was released on Pets Recordings just in time for summer and got massive playtime from DJs all across the globe. Supported by the likes of Skream, Justin Martin, and Shadowchild, “Jagged Edge” is a dancefloor filler to really get the crowd going. Highlighted by the signature Eats Everything vocal stabs, you can tell from the start that this track is something special.
04. Electricity – Lee Foss & MK
If there was ever a song that bridged the gap between underground deep house scene and mainstream pop, this is it. Hot Creation’s co-founder Lee Foss teams up with American DJ legend MK and vocalist Anabel Englund to make a track that really should have been a billboard top 100. The catchy vocals are backed by a genius instrumental that takes an unexpected, but phenomenal turn at the end.
03. Flight School – Miguel Campbell
I could have honestly filled this entire list with songs that Miguel Campbell has put out this year (he’s definitely getting my vote for Breakout Artist of the 2012.) Teaming up with fellow nu-discoer Matt Hughes, the duo, known as MAM, released two of my favorite funky EPs this year: Modern Heat and Happyness. Miguel’s perfect fusion of 80’s disco, new-age deep-house, and 70’s funk makes for some unique dancefloor bangers. So why “Flight School” over his massive bag of awesome releases this year? It’s simplicity. Using a sample from Al Diamond’s “Don’t Steam Me Up,” Miguel pumps up the bass and tones down the vocals to create an absolute masterpiece.
02. Going to Heaven With the Goodie Goodies – Amine Edge & DANCE
What’s not to like about this song? Amine Edge’s gangster house basslines with DANCE’s hip-hop production background mixes together with some Notrious B.I.G. samples, creating the ultimate G-house future classic. Enough said.
01. Knee Deep In Louise – Hot Since 82
This is the deepest track of the year in my book. It got playing time from almost everyone in the deep house world, from Seth Troxler to Jamie Jones to Damian Lazarus; it seemed like everyone was throwing this into the peaks of their sets. Whether it’s that heavy bassline, or the dark “the deeper I go” sample, this song is a staple in the deep house movement, and it has my #1 spot this year.