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Ten Tracks That Brought Back Piano House in 2013

Cue the keys, piano house is back.

As 2013 rolls to a slow, grinding halt, the number of lists chronicling the year's trends seems to be growing exponentially. From the resurgence of jungle to the stealthy rise of Disclosure and the subsequent rash of everyone sounding like Disclosure, it's been a year where the electronic music world has grown ever more self-reflexive, examining it's own trends with the voracity of a self-involved gaggle of pre-pubescent teens.


It's hard to complain about one trend, though, and that's the number of tracks this year that have unashamedly brought back the bouncy house piano riff of days past. Classic Chicago house permanently ingrained the bright, staccato sounds of blocky piano chords in our collective subconscious, but with younger and younger fans being drawn to the bright lights of EDM, retro-minded piano timbres have been steadily pushed to the sidelines.

Who knows if the pure sounds of the piano will survive another calendar year, but for now, let's revel in the unabashed joy of ten songs from 2013 that waved the flag proudly.

Paul Woolford - "Untitled"

Very few tracks this year so proudly waved the piano house as veteran producer Paul Woolford's "Untitled." Woolford has clearly been in a reflexive mood as of late; his fully-formed LP released under his Special Request moniker cleanly channeled the lost days of pirate radio, whereas "Untitled" hides nothing in it's Chicago house homage. Clearly it's hard to deny the appeal of coupling bouncy piano chords and a diva-sourced vocal sample, as "Untitled" became one of the most rinsed tracks of the year.

Benjamin Damage - "010x"

Modeselektor's tough-hitting


imprint isn't the first place you'd expect to see a genuine piano house anthem, but Berlin-based Brit

Benjamin Damage

's "010x," taken from his debut full-length "


" was just that. "010x" rides a fastidious groove before the welcome appearance of a carefree piano loop that balances the song's dark edge with a playful element of airiness.


Todd Terje - "Strandbar" (Disko Version)

Norwegian producer

Todd Terje

has built an impressive career out of the endless vamp, the seamless buildup, and the ebullient climax. His latest creation, the multi-flavored "Strandbar" came in both "Disko" and "Samba" versions but each captured what Terje does best; elegant, epic grooves meant for the dance floor that never seem to break a sweat. Piano doesn't come in till around 3:40 in Strandbar's "Disko" version, but its arrival quickly adds another euphoria-inducing layer upon the already glorious disco motif that Terje is hopelessly devoted to. Here's to next summer.

Axel Boman - "Fantastic Piano"

Fellow Scandinavian Axel Boman took the opposite approach on the appropriately-titled "Fantastic Piano," from this year's "

Family Vacation

", released on his own

Studio Barnhus

label. Letting a plaintive piano melody rest as the backbone for a shimmering and floaty production, he turns the classic trope on it's side, proving that in the right hands, piano can be as entrancing as it can be uplifting.

The Range - "Metal Swing"

This year, Providence producer

The Range

made quite an impact with "


", his debut album for Brighton label Donkey Pitch, and standout track "Metal Swing" is a quick summary of why it appealed to such a range of listeners. The Range placed a circular piano riff behind a thick, pouncing bass jab in a swirling, slowly-growing arrangement before said piano reappears, invigorated and thrust into the forefront, and demonstrated a deep understanding of how to keep a track invigorating all the way through.


Anthony Naples - "I Don't See Them"

Brooklyn-based producer Anthony Naples' debut track for

Mister Saturday Night

, the now acclaimed "

Mad Disrespect

," trafficked in joyous, house tropes, but his subsequent releases saw him moving away from anything related to Chicago, instead working in murky waters with a variety of textures and tempos. "I Don't See Them" is somewhat of an outlier on this list, as it foregoes a clearly demarcated piano, using in it's place a submerged, heavily-reverbed Rhodes that nonetheless carries the melodic weight of the track in it's arms.

Moon Boots - Love Strong

The piano house resurgence wasn't just limited to more underground sounds. Pop-leaning

French Express


Moon Boots

, wrapped a hooky, sparkling piano riff around a soulful vocal and bouncy vibraphone melody in the crisp production of "Love Strong," and in the process won over the hearts of many a dancefloor.

Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones - "I Need U"
Despite the fact that this track just premiered to the world a few days ago on Annie Mac's famed BBC Radio 1 show, Duke Dumont's "I Need U" is exactly the type of arms-in-the-air burner that could warm up this winter. Prominently making use of circular piano chords and an even bigger steel drum melody, this is a perfect example of a track that isn't afraid to go for broke.

George Fitzgerald - "I Can Tell" (Paul Woolford Remix) + Disclosure - "Help Me Lose My Mind" (Paul Woolford Remix)
Yes, it's been a huge year for Paul Woolford. Despite already including "Untitled," it'd be impossible to ignore this pair of remixes he managed to sneak into his already busy release schedule. Woolford's reworking of George Fitzgerald's "I Can Tell" is as strong of an argument for the steady comeback of house piano as any original from the past year. He kicks off the track with a staccato, endlessly-hooky piano riff and barely takes his foot off the gas, letting those blocky chords do most of the heavy lifting. And while Woolford doesn't rely quite so heavily on piano in his remix of Disclosure's "Help Me Lose My Mind," their inclusion certainly gives the track a rhythmic synergy and effervescent bounce that's near impossible to deny.