Top 10 Dance Music Albums For People Who Don't Know Shit About Dance Music

Categories: Helpful Advice

Christoph Kostlin
Paul van Dyk
[Editor's note: Ahead of this weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas -- of which we'll be bringing you full coverage -- we thought it'd be a good idea to make sure everyone's up to speed on Electronic Dance Music 101. This post comes courtesy of our sister blog in L.A., West Coast Sound. Keep your eyes on All Shook Down throughout this weekend for fresh reports and photos from EDC 2012.]


Electronic dance music (you know, EDM) is the hottest thing going right now. But to you, it still all sounds like "oontz, oontz, oontz" -- except Skrillex, who sounds like "wom, wom, wom." Right?

Fear not. You don't have to be a kid yourself to know what the kids are into nowadays. The ten albums below might not convert you into a glowstick-twirling rave monkey, but they will at least help you tell the difference between dubstep and drum 'n' bass, or Chicago house and Detroit techno. Note that while these are great records, this isn't meant to be a definitive "best of" list -- it's just a good entry point for EDM newbies.

10) The Chemical Brothers

Exit Planet Dust (1995)
No one has ever engineered a better gateway drug to EDM than this ferocious debut album from the British production duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, which is why it kicks off our list. The Chems would refine their balls-out mix of techno, acid house, hip-hop and stadium rock on future releases, but they never went straight for the lizard brain more effectively than on this frenetic set.

9) Derrick Carter and Mark Farina
Live at Om (2004)
House music got its start in Chicago, and Chicago house in its purest form remains the dirtiest, funkiest, swingingest form of dance music based on strict four-on-the-floor beats. This double-disc collection captures live sets by two of Chi-town's most gifted DJs and is a brilliant study in contrasts: Where Mark Farina's jazzy, stylish tracks (like the Vibezelect tune above) are all about the hip-shake and shoulder-shimmy, Derrick Carter's downright filthy mix is all grit and grind and goes right for the crotch.

See also: DJ Mark Farina Will Not Be Kicked Off the Decks at Mighty This Weekend

8) Underworld
Beaucoup Fish (1999)
The band behind "Born Slippy" (you know, from the final scene in Trainspotting) released three classic hard techno albums in the '90s, of which this '99 set is both their best and the one most accessible to newbs. The last Underworld album to feature their secret weapon, producer Darren Emerson, it contains at least three tracks that will melt your face off: the deceptively titled "Kittens," the Donna Summer-sampling "Shudder/King of Snake" (yes, it jacked that pulsating synth from "I Feel Love") and album closer "Moaner." For British techno, this is still the gold standard.

My Voice Nation Help

First of all, there should have been a list of 20 or 25 albums to lend this this list some solid credibility. Some good albums in there, but I would have chosen different a different album for Drum'n'Bass. Maybe one of the old Goldie, Grooverider, or Roni Size albums, or even Dieselboy. Hawtin's Decks Efx & 909 would have a been a perfect Techno mix. There should have been at least ONE Sasha & Digweed album in there; Northern Exposure Vol. 1, imo. I think a lot of landmark artists were left out. Artists who influenced and shaped the dance music culture in a big way: Laurent Garnier, James Holden, Carl Cox, Hallucinogen/Shpongle, Trentemoller, Jeff Mills, James Zabiela, etc. 

The Colonel
The Colonel

"The trick to understanding drum 'n' bass is to realize that it's not really meant for dancing." Right. And by the same token, the trick to comprehending 4 Loko is to realize it's not really meant for getting you shithoused.  That's ALL it's meant for, doofus, it's fucking dance music.

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