Top Ten EDM Albums for People Who Don't Know Shit About Dance Music

Christoph Kostlin
Paul van Dyk
by Andy Hermann

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.

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.



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Jon Leufroy Artwork
Jon Leufroy Artwork

WORD to the kiddies...if you're a homophobe...stick with hip hop gangsta drama...we don't need your drama in the club....

Tara Scieszinski
Tara Scieszinski

Dallas Observer -- whatchu know about EDM?! >>> Breakaway Music Festival #BreakawayDallas ;)

Stephani Pena
Stephani Pena

Plastician & Skream...listen to them before Skrillex


My son, now in his early 30s, left behind a pile of Orbital, Chemical Brothers, and the like when he finally moved out for good. While perusing the stack for Bowie, I would occasionally slide one of my son's other CDs into the tray. Now I know how to classify that stuff. I give it an 87. Nice beat, easy to dance to. Wolfman, Dick Clark, now those were DJs.


also... no love for Prodigy?  WTF??


I know this isn't meant to be a best-of or anything, but how is it that Orbital doesn't end up on here?  The Brown Album is basically calling to be on this list. Also, I'd probably replace the PVD collection with Northern Exposure 1.  A rather trance-y release cut with enough prog house to keep it from getting too overwhelmingly saccharine.  Probably the best excuse I could give for not putting it on the list is that you don't want to present someone with one of the best DJ mixes (if not albums) of all time as their first exposure to the music.

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