With only a handful of gigs left for this year, I figured that now is a good time to post my top 10 jams for 2023. Technically, these aren’t all songs that came out this year, and my top pick I actually started playing in 2022, but they all made an impact on my DJ set in 2023. Check out the list below and I hope to see you on the dance floor soon.
(Some of these tracks link to their corresponding listings on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases made from the links in this set list.)
1. Confidence Man “Angry Girl”
Last year, Confidence Man released Tilt, which was one of my favorite albums of 2022, and that’s actually when I started playing “Angry Girl.” However, it wasn’t until this year that it moved up in the ranks to a middle-of-the-night jam— usually played with early ‘00s classics like “House of Jealous Lovers” and/or new school hits like “Chaise Longue”— in my sets. A bunch of people have come up to the booth to ask about the song, plenty more just stuck around on the dance floor. (I can see when you’re Shazaming. It’s cool.) Maybe check out Confidence Man when they play L.A. on December 2.
Tilt on Amazon (vinyl, CD, digital)
2. Asha Puthli – I Am Song (Sing Me) (Yuksek Remix)
Naya Beat’s Asha Puthli collection Disco Mystic: Select Remixes Vol. 1 offers six new twists on the singer’s classics, but my favorite is Yuksek’s take on “I Am Song (Sing Me).” The French producer reframes Puthli’s 1971 song as a Northern Soul-style stomper and the results are amazing. This quickly became a staple in my digital disco sets (I still need to find it on vinyl), but it’s segued into my indie sets as well.
Disco Mystic on Amazon (Digital)
3. Sam Redmore “Tears”
Earlier this year, I came across Sam Redmore’s killer album Universal Vibrations, which was actually released in 2022, and was immediately smitten with his cumbia cover of “Tears,” a pre-disco Giorgio Moroder song that was famously sampled by DJ Shadow on “Organ Donor.” If you stick it out until the house lights come up during my disco sets, then you’ve definitely heard this as the closer a few times this year.
Universal Vibrations on Amazon (vinyl, VD, digital)
Universal Vibrations on Beatport (digital)
4. Purple Disco Machine “Bad Company”
It only took a song snippet on Instagram to hook me onto Purple Disco Machine’s summer bop “Bad Company.” I mean, really, it’s Company B’s 1986 hit “Fascinated” that’s the hook here. And, since L.A. club crowds still love freestyle, dropping it into my own sets was a no-brainer.
Bad Company on Amazon (digital)
5. Optometry “Chameleon”
I’ve loved everything that L.A.-based Optometry has put out this year, but “Chameleon,” from the album After-Image, is the tune that’s been sticking around in my sets. It has a turn-of-the-millennium psychedelic synth vibe that’s somewhere between Broadcast and Ladytron, so it works with a lot of different eras of music. In fact, you can hear “Chameleon” in between Saint Etienne and New Order in a mix that I recorded live at Underground.
6. Alison Goldfrapp “Gatto Gelato”
Back in the ‘00s, Goldfrapp was a staple in my sets, so I eagerly anticipated the release of The Love Invention earlier this year. Alison Goldfrapp’s first solo album is gorgeous and it wasn’t particularly easy to pick a song to start working into my club sets. “Gatto Gelato” ultimately settled into my early sets. It sounds good right when people are starting to come through the doors of a venue.
The Love Invention on Amazon (CD, vinyl)
The Love Invention on Amazon (digital)
7. Gorillaz “Oil”
A regret I have for this year is not playing “Oil” out often enough. It’s my favorite song from Cracker Island, a sad 2-D tune in the vein of “Melancholy Hill” (my favorite Gorillaz song) with the added bonus of vocals from Stevie Nicks. You can hear it in my recording from Gorillaz x Daft Punk night at Underground.
Cracker Island on Amazon (vinyl, CD, digital)
8. Nuovo Testamento “Heartbeat” (Curses Remix)
I started playing “Heartbeat,” from Nuovo Testamento’s full-length album Love Lines, earlier this year, but switched to Curses remix of the track when I came across it on Bandcamp not long ago. The remix has a mid-‘80s New Order vibe to it that I appreciate and it goes well with the Italo influences in Nuovo Testamento’s work.
9. Spiritual Cramp “Talkin’ on the Internet”
So far, I’ve only played “Talking on the Internet,” from Spiritual Cramp’s self-titled album, once. However, the reaction was strong enough where my gut feeling is that it’s going to stick around for a while. It’s possible that I’m wrong, but it’s also possible that I’m not.
Spiritual Cramp on Bandcamp (digital)
Spiritual Cramp on Amazon (digital)
10. Decisive Pink “Haffmilch Holiday”
Honestly, if you want to hear “Haffmilch Holiday” in my sets, you have to show up pretty early. It’s a little too mellow for middle of the night, but just right for when people are ordering their first round at the bar. Plus, Decisive Pink’s debut, Ticket to Fame, is one of my favorite albums of the year. I’m a little bummed to have missed their L.A. show.
Ticket to Fame (vinyl, CD)
Ticket to Fame on Beatport (digital)