If fans had been able to place bets on what 2013 would hold for the world of dance music, more then a few gamblers would have had to mortgage the house. Or put it this way—2013 threw us some curveballs:
- Trap music made the kiddies go très rachét—from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine (though we're told it's on its way out).
- Waka Flaka met Steve Aoki and discovered his love for EDM. - Steve Aoki met Linkin Park—they discovered their mutual love for... whatever it is they do.
- A whole lot of people ate bath salts. (But not Danny Brown.)
- Deep house got a face-lift, then took the Beatport throne (though detractors are mad because it isn't "deep enough").
- Hardstyle emerged from the carpeted basements of Norwegian preteens and began cropping up in peak-time festival DJ sets. What in the…?
Sure, big room house dude Hardwell was voted DJ Mag's top dog, while trance OG Armin Van Buuren claimed the runner-up slot—no surprises here. And yes, thousands of ravers are still losing their shit to Deadmau5 at the main stages of sold-out megafestivals like Tomorrowland and Electric Zoo.
But if you examine the scene with a close eye you will notice that much of this year's buzz was directed at a relatively obscure, nearly decade-old genre, one that rarely ventured out of the English Isle—thus the name: UK garage.
In case you've been sleeping under a rock, or are possibly deaf from too much nails-on-chalkboard dubstep, 2013 is the year of the garage revival. And we can thank Disclosure, the baby-faced brothers from London, for the reemergence of our favorite house music mutation.
I will spare you a lengthy description of the accolades of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, but I would like to draw your attention to the enormous influence they've had on the field of global dance music in 2013. The R&B-style vocals, the stuttering grooves, and the upfront, melodic basslines of UK garage seem to be everywhere we look.
Are these acts just copy cats—replicating a foolproof equation for chart success? Or have the trends simply shifted to a more pop-infused, vocal-driven sound? Either way, 2013 was indeed the year of Disclosure, and in turn, the year that a whole lotta folks sounded… like Disclosure.
This is an occurrence I will hereby refer to as being "Disclosured."—1 meaning "a few dashes of Lawrence" and a 10 being on that Eddy Snowden tip:
Duke Dumont - "Need You (100%)" (Disclosured Meter: 5)
Duke Dumont is another UK chap who has found both underground and mainstream success with an upbeat, radio-ready sound that's littered with UK garage flavor. His recent single, "Need U (100%)," was a smashing success and hit number one across the pond for an impressive two weeks.
This one is oozing with Disclosure sounds—chopped up vocals with just the faintest hint of a British accent, plus punchy pads and twangy synths that take you deep, but not too deep. To be clear, the man is ten years their senior, so this may be a clear cut case of chicken and egg.
Linden Jay ft. Ruby Wood – "Break The Hold" (Disclosured meter: 9)
OK, I wouldn't be surprised if Guy and Howie were in the studio on this one. Personally I'm shocked that they didn't think to get Ruby Wood to do some vocals on
since her velvety vocals brush up against a stripped-down garage beat like… just about every vocal line on their album. Everything from the build-ups, to the bouncy bassline is reminiscent of the brothers' work, which is why this pick is almost at the top of the meter.
Gorgon City feat MNEK – "Ready For Your Love" (Disclosured level: 10!)
Gorgon City and Disclosure should probably just join forces and create some sort of garage quartet supergroup of young London lads who like to wear their shirts buttoned all the way up. Don't get me wrong, this track features some super smooth vocals from rising star
—and the infectious bassline is one of my favorites of the year—but this shit is almost identical to a Lawrence brothers production.
Also if you look at the music video for the track you can't help but notice that the Gorgon's live setup (and their London white boy swagger) is pretty much the same as… you know who. I'm definitely waiting for these two duos to collabo so I won't have to write articles like this one.
Bondax - "Giving It all" (Disclosured level: 7)
Do all current UK garage acts consist of baby-faced white boys? I thought that UK garage was, historically, a pretty diverse little scene. Either way, Bondax is another act to storm the charts this year with feel-good pop-tinged garage and house productions, like their track "Giving It All," which how—I should I say—sounds a lot like fucking Disclosure. It's not necessarily on that Gorgon level but a few more productions like this one and they'll be rising into the red.
Alunageorge - "You Know You Like it" (Disclosured level: N/A)
So, this one is kind of a low blow on my part seeing that Disclosure and Alunageorge are two groups who, in many ways, fed off each others' success—especially with their collaborative track, "White Noise." But even still, one can't help but notice that both groups' debut albums hold striking similarities. What do you think?