The Top 20 12-Inches Of 2011

Benoit & Sergio: Finishing 2011 strong, poised to rule 2012.
Benoit & Sergio: Finishing 2011 strong, poised to rule 2012.

The debate between digital digging and its analog analogue is the same useless arguing as the one pitting digital playback against the analog kind. In 2011, if it sounded good, it was worth listening to. The resulting stew was a mix of past and present where classic house met nu-disco and created a future sound of the old school.

The rules guiding the making of this list of the year's best 12-inches are quite simple: If a release was pressed onto flat, somewhat circular vinyl that could to be played on a turntable sometime during 2011, it was eligible, whether official, unofficial or reissue. The local leanings of the list are unintentional; New York may have quite a past, but it just also happens to know how to look toward the future.

Various, "Sound Sampler Vol. 1" (Sound Stream)

These high-end purveyors of old-school house meets disco noise believe in quality over quantity. Only their third release in as many years, their planned Mister Saturday Night appearance had to be cancelled due to illness, but it's hard to get sick of these sounds.

La Tuerie, "The Basement Boutique" EP (Is It Balearic)

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Is it balearic? You tell me. Either way, the always hotly debated genre tag is on full display on one of the label of the same name's many hot slo-mo releases.

The Dead Rose Music Company, "Moody Manoeuvres" EP (Sleazy Beats Recordings)

A tough call for a great label that highly lives up to its name, the mysterious TDRMC show why they're the great disco hope for 2012 with this stellar EP for the Quaalude set.

Locussolus, "Locussolus" (International Feel)

DJ Harvey productions; Emperor Machine, Lindstrom/Prins Thomas and Andrew Weatherall remixes. Not to be taken lightly.

Various, "A Summer Riot" EP (Futureboogie Recordings)

Any Futureboogie release this year could really have ended up on this list, but this release by three of its stable's new stars takes the cake. Keep an eye on these UK pranksters.

Sofrito Super Singles, "Highlife Underground" EP (Sofrito)

Awesome wax from Africa was all over in 2011. Occasional New Yorker Frank Gossner's traveling Voodoo Funk fiesta and tourmate Uchenna Ikonne's excellent Brand New Wayo comp came out this year, but the medal goes to UK label Sofrito for their excellent series of nu-afro edits—and an embarrassment of free riches on their site.

Bicep, "EP2" (Throne of Blood)

"Are bloggers really journalists?" traditional media mavens often ask. "Who cares when they can produce tracks like this?" we ask. While continuing to run their next-level blog and leaving a DJ path of Euro-destruction in their wake, Andy and Matt Bicep brought their own original sounds to America on two separate excellent EPs for a very busy, fruitful year for The Rapture's forward-thinking Throne of Blood imprint.

Free School, "Ranting & Raving" EP (Tirk)

A beautiful calming lullaby of a record backed with a music history lesson mini-sound movie (see above) and stellar remixes from The Time & Space Machine and Sportloto. The sound of nu-shoegaze outta nu-Birmingham.

Daphni, "Ne Noya / Yes, I Know / Jiao" (Jiaolong)

Aside from a standout turn on

an otherwise disappointing Radiohead remix package

, Dan Snaith released

so many great tracks as Daphni this year

, you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd left his Caribou moniker in the Great White North along with his Manitoba guise. Psychedelic is psychedelic by any other name.

CCC, "Acid Snow" EP (CCC Editions)

Speaking of psychedelics, 2011 was all about the acid for CCC (Cid Cid Cid?). With a three-volume anthology of American acid house On Acid, a lovingly produced, colorful compendium of drug essays, and this EP, their music truly captures their (altered) mind state and ushers listeners into the age of "Shaman House." Forthcoming work on Wolf & Lamb in 2012.

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