My Top 10 Tracks of 2013
Sometimes When I come up for an idea or a theme for a mix, I get so consumed thinking about all the songs I want to include that it never ends up being more than a concept. In an effort to keep things simple, I decided to start a series of 10-song recordings. The limited track listing keeps me from over-thinking things and I’ve been able to come up with some really fun mixes. Since they’re all 10 tracks long, I decided to call them “Dime Pieces.”
For the fourth entry in my “Dime Piece” series, I tallied up my 10 favorite albums of 2013 and put a song from each in the mix. It’s got a little bit of anything (Editor’s note: including some NSFW language). You can find the first three mixes here, here.
Mayer Hawthorne feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Crime”
Where Does this Door Go
He’s come a long way since the classic soul sound of his debut on Stone’s Throw in ’09. The new album is on Universal’s Republic Records and he’s definitely trying to get his Donald Fagen on (not mad!) and has tracks with big name producers Jack Splash and Pharrell. This one featuring Kendrick Lamar has been getting run in my sets lately and since K Dot did a show at the Alaska State Fair this year, I thought it was a great way to start the mix off. Bonus link: Mayer started out as a DJ, check out one of his sets from infamous Sunday LA party, the Do-Over (one of my favorite parties).
7 Days of Funk – “Faden Away”
7 Days of Funk
When you’ve got as much juice as Snoop Dogg, you can just up and do a niche, nine-track side project. It doesn’t sound like Mr. Broadus put a ton of work into the lyrics on this album, but it’s really all about his stoney carefree flow over some slappers produced by G funk revivalist Dam Funk. This one came out on Stone’s Throw and even has an Archbishop Don Magic Juan co-sign and an official video. Crank up the jams and pretend your ride is actually a tinted out Cutlass. Bonus videos: Dam singing during a DJ set at the Do-Over. NSFW language.
DJ Day – “Boots in the Pool”
Land of 1,000 Chances
DJ Day dropped his first 12”, Gone Bad back in ‘05 and he got some shine in a DC shoe ad back in ’09 but he’s not as well known as RJD2 or other “instrumental hip hop” producers (That term is so corny it makes me cringe, but you know what I mean). How about if I said, “This album sounds like DJ Shadow at the beach sipping sangria.” It was executive produced by Piecelock 70 labelmate Thes One from People Under the Stairsand just has a great sunny, chill vibe. Bonus links: Video for the title track, Day’s stellar Do-Over sets.
Major Lazer feat Busy Signal, The Flexican and FS Green – Watch Out For This (Bumaye)
Free the Universe
Diplo is somehow able to work with big label artists (see: Chris Brown, Usher, Beyonce), stay huge in the DJ scene (I just said “instrumental hip hop,” I’m not saying “EDM”) and run his label, Mad Decent. All the while, he’s pushing crazy, non-commercial dance music that somehow crosses over to the mainstream. Case in point. It never occurred to me that a guy who made a mix I worshipped in ‘03, would be doing a blackberry commercial and getting nominated for a grammy.
Major Lazer is Diplo and Switch and a cast of Jamaicans who make wild, reggae-influenced dance music. Beyonce used this Major Lazer cut to make this and Diplo and the crew were daggering and twerking while Miley was still working for Disney. This is one of the tracks from the album that I would play out if I had a crowd open-minded and willing to get freaky. Bonus link: Bumaye video.
Daft Punk Feat. Giorgio Moroder – Giorgio by Moroder
Random Access Memories
Depending on your own personal combination of old and cynical, it was either super cool that Daft Punk was able to pay legends like Nile Rodgers to play on their album or you got grumpy and wondered if the people who liked “Get Lucky” were also huge “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” fans without realizing the same man was behind both riffs. I was definitely guilty of mixing from “We are Family” into “Get Lucky” at more than one wedding. From staple to summer jam while spanning 30 plus years without skipping a beat. It just shows talented Mr. Rodgers is (and how savvy Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo are). On my first listen of Random Access Memories, this cut instantly became my favorite. Digging for old soundtracks had me up on some of Giorgio’s earlier works like Midnight Express, Battlestar Galactica and American Gigolo and when I heard that synth, I was hooked.
Classixx – Dominoes
I put Classixx’s remix of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” on one of my earlier mixes and I’ve kept an eye out for their releases since. One of my favorite moments of the last year was walking around Seattle and listening to this on headphones. From the opening track, “Hanging Gardens” the vibes on the whole thing are just perfect. Bonus Links: Classixx DJ set at the Do-Over. Oldies, but goodies: The Treasure Fingers and Gigameshremixes of “I’ll Get You”
Disclosure Feat. Aluna George – White Noise
I don’t think I’ve met anyone who didn’t like this album, just people who haven’t heard it yet. It’s that good.
Bonus link: I played another one of their songs, “When a Fire Starts to Burn” the other day during a gig at UAA. Listen / download to an hour of that set here.
Holy Ghost! – Bridge and Tunnel
Donna Summer – Dim All the Lights (Duke Dumont remix)
Love to Love You Donna
This full-length release of Donna Summer remixes was put together by someone in the know. Donna’s voice is obviously amazing and the centerpiece here, but the quality and selection of remixers is what makes or breaks a project like this and the selection here is top notch. They’ve enlisted Old school maestros like Frankie Knuckles and Masters at Work and some of my favorite current producers - Chromeo, Oliver,Gigamesh, Hot Chip, Jacques Greene and two names you’ll recognize from earlier in this list – Giorgio Moroder and Holy Ghost! This thing bangs. You might know Duke Dumont from this jam and I think he just nailed this one, letting Donna’s voice breathe and lacing the track with a great house vibe.
Kanye West – Black Skinhead
I’m a Kanye apologist. Say what you will about his personal life and interviews. But have you listened to this album? It’s crazy! It’s crazy good! This guy is making ART. Of all the tracks on this mix, this was the one I had the most trouble with. I knew I wanted to put on at the end as a standalone moment, but had trouble picking a song because they all have such a high level of emotion and punch. I ended up going with this because Daft Punk worked with him on producing it – but you probably wouldn’t know that unless you checked the liner notes.
About DJ Spencer Lee
Born and raised in Alaska, Spencer Lee Shroyer was a know-it-all record store clerk in Homer before moving to Anchorage and earning a degree from UAA. While working in journalism and public relations, he also performed as a DJ on the weekends. After paying dues in the scene for 10 years, he quit his day job and is now a full-time DJ.
Listen to his mixes and checkout a full gig schedule at djspencerlee.com