Since the beginning of the new year, these 18 albums have stood tall among the rest for their variety and creativity in the dance music space.
We could not leave you hanging after kicking off this series back in 2017! After we introduced a feature on artist albums you missed in 2017, continued the trend for the busy 2018 season with a first-half segment and a second-half segment. Roll on the first half of 2019 into the history books and BAM! Here we go again! This list focuses on albums released since January through late June this year and we are excited to share a variety of staff viewpoints.
To begin, we exclude albums we covered in other posts like Luttrell’s Into Clouds, All Hail The Silence’s ‡, 13’s Old World Order, Key4050’s debut Tales From The Temple, Feed Me’s High Street Creeps, Liquid Stranger’s Infinity, Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Griz’s Ride Waves, Party Favor’s Layers, Avicii’s posthumous TIM, or GAIA’s Moons Of Jupiter.
In addition, we tossed out dedicated remix albums and any compilations as the focus is truly on original pieces from the hands of the artists! With that underway, shall we dive deep into the back catalogs and see what lies below?
18 Albums from the First Half of 2019 That You Should Listen To
Danniel Selfmade – Parallel Life
From the depths of a place I had never heard of came Danniel Selfmade. One part Richie Hawtin’s m_Nus, one part Get Physical, one part M.A.N.D.Y, and one part all that makes the deep and techy sides of house music, Danniel quietly captured a segment of dance music elites’ ears over the years. That experience and polish clearly oozes forth on his debut album Parallel Life, released on his label Crow in the first seven days of the year. Cleverly evoking the beauty of artists like ANNA, Gaiser, Matador, Magda, and more, Parallel Life affords the listener to put on their headset, turn on their speakers, and just get lost in the depths of clean sound design combined with meaningful simple melodic elements.
“Permanent Hadway” displays this brilliantly with its yawning bass riffs and percolating melodies. “Carnivalmind” grabs the playful sense of Claptone and grinds it into the whimsy of techno’s elite with its powerful stabs and house-focused percussion and claps. “2051” offers deep progressive vibes the likes of Sasha and John Digweed would love. Find the vibes and more in this Parallel Life. – MyStro
Julian Jeweil – Transmission
Drumcode’s limitless excellence knows few bounds when it comes to techno. With a new year, they simply decided to kick the doors down with a seasoned veteran in Julian Jeweil. Surprisingly after a decade of musical experiences, this is Julian’s first foray into the realm of artist albums. Themed with two consistent elements – a penchant for the vastness of outer space and the cold darkness that techno’s best are known for – Transmission is a realm reborn in a gathering of stereotypes. For those who enjoy the modern sounds of Drumcode’s elite, there is plenty to love – driving bass lines to subdue the mind with bright snappy percussion, melodic bits never feel overbearing, and a dancefloor first mentality helps the album shine.
Personally, I walked around the city with the album booming in my ears repeatedly in January and February and always found it exciting. Yet, fear not the energy, as this album is at home in the listening experience as it is booming from the depths of the bass bins at clubs and festivals. Hits include “Mars,” the experimental “Planet X,” booming “Futura,” and “Turbulence.” Tracks “Intro” and “Final” offer a great way of bookending the album and provide a solid foundation for the story to unfold within. – MyStro
Grab a copy now on Beatport!
Pavel Khvaleev – Sonder
Blending haunting pop-sensible vocals with deep progressive house vibes yields big rewards on Pavel Khvaleev’s Sonder. As an album, it offers everything a fan of thoughtful progressive house would want – deep slow cuts that border on downtempo and groove-laden melodies to get lost into during the darker moments of a nightclub experience. Indeed Pavel’s exploration of electronic music offers a slice of humble pie served with a thoughtfully simple fork instead of something like a spork – all fine and dandy to try something new, but don’t lose the reason something exists. Packaged as twenty tracks over two discs tracks, Sonder is, at its core, an experience – part dance floor filler, part walk in the park on a sunny afternoon, part exploration of sound. – MyStro
Dig into it by getting your copy right here.
Ladytron – Ladytron
In the United States, you could be forgiven for never really hearing Ladytron before. The English electronica band has been around since the turn of the millennium and returns with their sixth artist album, aptly named Ladytron. Bordering the line between indie rock and electropop, Ladytron is a darker affair through subject matters that present well, the here and now. The album cover – an ode to the apocalyptic disaster that was the California Firestorm of 2018 with its pine trees wrapped in flames offers a very vivid glimpse of the album’s interior.
Lyrics often come across as melancholic, which may be a byproduct the vocal qualities of the band’s singers, or it may in fact be about sounding the subtle alarm that something is not quite right in the world. Ladytron is one of those albums I just cannot place but cannot disregard either. Is it the best album I’ll hear this year? Probably not. Is it somehow encapsulating? Very much so! – MyStro
Follower the stranger side of electronic-meets-rock in Ladytron on Bandcamp.
Big Wild – Superdream
Big Wild surpasses any and all expectations with the release of his debut album Superdream. A collection of experiences and new skills Superdream is a tangible representation of Big Wild’s growth as an artist and a human being. Bringing the album from concept to reality, Jackson has turned scribbles in a journal into a full-fledged album where he is credited with Superdream’s songwriting, lyrics, and vocals. After gaining popularity with his chart-topping single “Aftergold” and debut EP Invincible, Superdream was a natural progression for an extremely talented musician. Incorporating more and more live elements into his live show Big Wild shows no signs of slowing down. The continuation of the Superdream Tour kicks off at Firefly Festival June 21. Be sure to give the album a listen on your favorite listening platform! – Zach
Follow Big Wild’s Superdream by sliding into this link for the album on your platform of choice.
Francesca Lombardo – Life of Leaf
One of my favorite artists who has won my heart over is none other than Francesca Lombardo who gifted the world with her debut LP this year. Dubbed Life of Leaf, it is a remarkable album that pairs Francesca’s classical background with electronic beats to create a feeling of warmth for anyone who tunes in to listen. While “Eye Ring” and “Rain” may have been two of the true standout singles from the album, “Paradise” is actually my personal favorite of the entire collection as its full of heavier tones and a soundscape that I found myself pleasantly lost inside. I also enjoyed the serenity that “Smiling Skies” and closing track “You Sleep, You Don’t Sleep” offered to me while listening, with that final track resonating deeply with me and finding its way onto many of my personal playlists. – Grant
The Life of Leaf awaits your ears on the platform of your choice right here!
Ryan Farish – Wonder
Having reviewed Ryan Farish’s last two albums here we thought we’d allow our audience an in-depth break for Wonder. That said, it gets a happy inclusion on this list because it retains the effortless positive vibes the last two albums had and firmly exclaims Ryan’s continued artistic growth. Songs like “Hey, Hi” or “Heavy” provide guitar and synth lines that deftly entwine the mental notes as Nils Rodgers did best in the Disco era. Yet, these same examples paint how Ryan’s pushing his boundaries – retooling vocal samples in mannerisms that Porter Robinson or BT could be proud of. As a complete work, Wonder paints the growth of a father learning the childlike imagination and it’s endless bounds yet again – based in knowledge and filled with whimsy. – MyStro
Ryan’s dazzling work can be heard by clicking on the link to find Wonder!
Brennan Heart – Show Your True Colors
Legends never die they say. Brennan Heart unsurprisingly still resounds in the greater commercial awareness of hard dance worldwide. Show Your True Colors offers fans yet another glimpse behind hard dance’s melody man. From anthems for I AM HARDSTYLE and Decibel to the folk styling behind the opening track, Show Your True Colors settles into something viable for the masses who have yet to dabble into hard dance. “Realness” – a collaboration with TNT – and “Harddrop” provide fun party tracks that will fuel the wee hours of the morning with energy. Near the end of the album is “Ravers Memory” provides a platform for the years of memories for long-term ravers. The line “but they won’t believe it” encapsulates the memories of the older ravers still in the scene. Is Show Your True Colors a classic? Not likely – but it’s a great foray into the realm of hard dance of the here and now for the unfamiliar. – MyStro
If you need to find your true colors, stick your mouse right here!
Lenzman – Bobby
Awesome drum n bass, especially in the jazz-inspired liquid region, is an often-overlooked album area of the genre. Lenzman’s Bobby affirms why this is a tragedy. Soft-spoken throughout, the album caters to a journey – something akin to a hike in the wilderness. Well placed pianos, synth lines, choral verses overlay the wandering drum lines pulled from that sample of samples: the “amen” break. Released on the legendary Metalheadz label, Bobby generates a somber mood as listeners dive into its depths.
Take “Misty” or “Hollis (Over and Over” as examples that offer moody pianos, atmospheres that rain elements softly at the upper end of the auditory spectrum, and a cadence that is at home next to the fireplace, under the umbrella in the rain, or during the dark hours where one stargazes. That’s not to say you’ll be missing on some smooth raps on top of the beats too. “Rain” which features Children of Zeus and “Pictures of You” which features DRS showcase how the liquid can easily infuse MCs on top of stunning production. Bobby is the sophomore effort of Lenzman and superbly crafts his artistic worldline through the coming years. – MyStro
Dig in by grabbing your copy on your platform of choice here.
Amon Tobin – Fear In A Handful Of Dust
Cascading with an ear of brilliant sound manipulation, Amon Tobin’s return with Fear in a Handful of Dust after eight years is an extreme example of letting creativity be the spark to light the flame. Amon is no stranger to the realm of sonic manipulation. His last LP, 2011’s ISAM, generated huge buzz due to its expert sound crafting meshed with an immersive 3D mapped visual experience.
Fear in a Handful of Dust offers plenty to get lost in – wide soundscapes that capitalize on Amon’s creative works outside dance music encapsulate the mind. Take “Velvet Owl” as evidence – it would sound instantly at home in a thought-provoking experience like the video game Portal 2 as we explore the depths of Cave Johnson’s facility. Alternatively, explore the more organic side of Amon’s craft on tracks like “Milk Millionaire” or “Vipers Follow You.”
Amon’s ability to wrap the mind in sonic blankets is unrestrained and grab hold firmly while you open your ears to the experience. The incredible effortless method distributed by this album is something to lie down and just enjoy. I think back to the photographs of my parents – a record on a turntable just to listen to. – MyStro
Fear in a Handful of Dust is absolutely that experience.
Jai Wolf – The Cure To Loneliness
2019 kicked off in full swing with an excellent batch of albums we did not have the time to cover individually, so swing in and find new gems to listen to! artist, Jai Wolf, has captivated fans across the globe with his melodic and heart-warming productions. Tracks like “Indian Summer”, “Drive” and “Starlight” strike an astounding balance between emotion-laden and high-energy electronica transporting you to a euphoric world via sound waves. Most recently, he released his debut album The Cure To Loneliness and it’s fulfilling in all aspects. With an eclectic mix of inspirations, the album is true in its authenticity and is a testament to Jai Wolf’s passion and musicality. The Cure To Loneliness Tour goes back on the road beginning November 9 in Australia. If you haven’t listened to the album do yourself a favor and listen to the album on your favorite listening platform now. – Zach
Find the cure for yourself on your streaming platform of choice.
Fadent – Infinity
Every so often I stumble into something special I would never find if it was not for iTunes pre-order page. Enter London based Fadent with a signature blend of genres I don’t listen to all that often – trap, melodic dubstep, and chillstep. Infinity collapses my expectations into something fresh and rewarding – an exploration that reaches into the familiar of artists like Illenium and Porter Robinson. Is it as polished as those artists? No – clearly Fadent is still honing his skills (an overambitious sidechain compression comes through the mix quite a few times). Yet his work with vocals on tracks like “Secrets” which features Skye Light and “Wonders” which features Elena Ramona overlay a love that pours forth in each production. The nostalgic feel of the melodies evoked on tracks like “Diamonds” or “Time Apart” warms the soul with positive energy despite the neck-breaking kick drums. This is not an album I’d normally purchase, and yet, I have – if for no other reason, I feel the love poured forth and find the use of melody so refreshing. – MyStro
Jumpinto the great beyond on Spotify with Fadent’s Infinity!
Sound Quelle – Iridescent
When I saw my inbox light up with an album announcement from Silk Music, I instantly got excited. Seeing Sound Quelle’s name attached to it invigorated the excitement. A happy discovery over a bunch of labels including the Enhanced and Armada label families, Sound Quelle’s decision to sign the album to Silk Music showcases the artistic vision trumping sales pitches. Iridescent is exactly that – honed artistic vision with subtle reflections that reverberate within. The strictly progressive house focused album provides a platform of wide soundscapes – expansive sounds that would be at home in the majesty of locales such Monument Valley. Iridescent is exactly what progressive music needs as spring gives way to the sizzle of summer – cool melodies that captivate the mind to take you forward. If you want to get lost in the mood on one track, check out the title track, it will make you sing along! – MyStro
Discover Iridescent wherever you choose to go!
L’indécis – Second Wind
ChillHop remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures. When Chillhop Records pinged my mailbox with a new album that wasn’t the seasonal compilation I was Ernest to hear more. Second Wind provided the table where L’indécis crafted his latest art and it’s a groovy affair. Swanky guitars glide over calm beats perfect for the springtime to give way to the summer sun. “Fried Potatoes” offers the cafe vibe I love lately – sit down in the city, relax and find your vibe. Then there is “Overcome” – a collaboration with sad toï, with a sexy groove-laden low end at the and a summertime guitar line that breathes easily by the pool, the shore, or the beach. If you want to reinforce the jazz roots of the genre, just tune to “Spleen & Malt” and dive deeper into the saxophone stylings over defiant Bass Riffs straight out of R&B. As an altogether piece of art, L’indécis Second Wind runs deep into my album of the year territory and is worth the open ear to listen to. – MyStro
Grab your copy here to experience the Second Wind!
Chase & Status – RTRN II JUNGLE
After the announcement of Chase & Status creating a new album, the excitement was palpable! RTRN II Jungle represents the roots of Chase & Status, so do not expect big heavy jump-up anthems. Instead, shift the focus to the roots of the culture – sort of taking on the style that Example took on his last album. Fans of Diplo’s dancehall and reggae-influenced tunes, you’ll love RTRN II Jungle. If you missed the documentary, I recommend checking it out. The album clocks in with twelve tracks, infused with live recordings from the grounds of Jamaica with a talented batch of vocalists joining the producers. For drum and bass goodness check in with “Murder Music.” For the roots of Jungle… well… take a number and run with it. Highly recommended is “Cool N Crisp.” Chase & Status doing major things with this album no doubt! – MyStro
Find the jungle on your favorite platform here.
SNBRN – Solé
Solé plays out as SNBRN’s opus to house music in the here and now. From its beginning, the album props synthesizer melodies on easy-going four-to-the-floor kick and snare combinations. Released on Ultra Records and Apollo Records simultaneously, it’s clear that the following warrants the exposure. Tech House throughout turned to, in Kevin Chapman’s words, “Sunset House” evokes the beauty of the moment. There are club smashes too – “Free Ya” has a superb bass line with great squeals in the mainline, “Freaks Like Me” offers plenty of sizzle over a deep bass groove, and “Tits On A Tricycle” is just strange enough to grab ears: the vibe of Fisher meets the quirk of Dirtybird’s finest. – MyStro
Take the ride on this day of sunshine by grabbing your copy here.
Hatar – In Sight
With all the hectic energy of the summer months coming into full swing, you might want some mellow beats to lounge by the pool with or just mellow with the A/C blasting. Enter the bliss of Croatia with the kick-back bliss of chillout and downtempo beats on In Sight. In Sight profoundly displays the chilled side of things in the industry, blending sublime piano riffs, laidback beats, soft guitar riffs, and breakbeat percussion that uplifts the soul. Out on Lemongrass Music, the album spawns ten tracks with varying styles. “Take Care Of You” combines guitar and piano riffs with some squealing effects and breakbeats that feel right at home during the sunset hours.”Purple Shell” – the final excursion on the album – dreamily brings the white sands of the late beach to you with its entrancing use of shakers. It is “Cherry on the Third” though that grabs my ears the most – soft, delicate, playful, and full of sweet-smelling rhythms. Well done distilling summer into these sounds Vedran Hatar. – MyStro
Take hold of the sunset with Hadar’s In Sight on Bandcamp of choosing via this link.
Two Lanes – Drifting
Meandering through the final selection is Two Lanes latest EP/album! Yes – this eight-track affair falls into the weird space between the two selections but we wanted to bring it to you here because of how much it reflects the current zeitgeist. There’s little surprise here: after working on remixes of Rufus, Odezsa, and Sasha Sloan, the brothers-in-production effortlessly pulls forth melodic emotion. Tracks like “The East” offer a grab into the Anjunadeep vibe permeating much of the worldwide ethos, while “Back Down”, “Back To You”, and “Common Ground” showcase how the brothers handle vocals without breaking their stride. If this quality level continues, I expect Two Lanes to start popping up on festival lineups with greater regularity. – MyStro
No need to wander on your destination when you can pick up the album on the platform of your choice!