The latest NewRetroWave compilation, released on Jan. 1, puts together a relatively diverse collection of some of the best artists in the synthwave/retrowave/Outrun genre(s).
Highway Superstar is a standout on The 80’s Dream Compilation Tape – Vol. 3, which isn’t particularly unusual. He’s a reliable synthwaver, whether you’re a fan of the genre, or an artist looking to spice up your own work.
This time, on “Skylines,” Highway offers up the catchiest, most beautiful synthesizer leads and colorful and serene atmosphere on the compilation. It’s also the most R&B-centered cut on the record.
A muted guitar plucks its way throughout the laid-back and relaxing tune. As the song’s title suggests, this is a great song for cruising along with the top down, gazing at a city’s skyscape. In this case, I could see driving along the streets of Los Angeles, admiring the city’s unique topography. It has skyscrapers, to be sure, but unlike a place like New York, LA’s true skyline is the mountains, hills and bluffs that tower over the lower lands throughout the sprawling metropolis.
Another highlight is “Knockout,” a collaboration between Sunglasses Kid and Phaserland that would be right at home as part of the soundtrack to a 1980s Tom Cruise film. This cut has it all: orchestra hits, buzzy synthesizer leads, romantic tension, some clean guitar riffage, and the overarching sense that the characters at the center of the film are just plain striving to achieve some great end.
The guitar leads, straight out of Miami Vice, add a delicate edge to the track. Although it’s interesting to think about how much edgier, and more like a New Order song, this would sound if the guitar were rawer and sloppier. Oh well, I guess there are always the remixes.
Other notable tracks are OGRE’s “The Bench,” which seems like a partial homage to Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode; and Tokyo Rose’s “Tokyo Burnout,” an Outrun number that would probably make Kavinsky very happy. Trevor Something’s “Your Sex Is A Dream,” is a suitably dark number with spacey, dispassionate vocals and a musical arrangement only a stalker could love.
NewRetroWave, which is primarily a popular YouTube channel for this particular revival movement, is a great curator and this collection proves the organization is not resting on its laurels. The entire collection is available for “name your own price” at Bandcamp.
DANCE WITH THE DEAD – The Entity 03:53
Miami Nights 1984 – Reflex Training 01:58
OGRE – The Bench 03:34
Power Glove – TELECOM 02:11
SelloRekt/ LA Dreams – Sweat 03:21
Sunglasses Kid – Knockout feat. Phaserland 03:54
Highway Superstar – Skylines 04:48
Timecop1983 – Waiting For You 04:30
Trevor Something – Your Sex Is A Dream 05:24
AIRGLOW – S.A.M. 04:53
Compilerbau – Neon Drive 84 06:27
Daniel Deluxe – Hero of Orion 05:03
Tokyo Rose – Tokyo Burnout 04:13
Diana Gitallog & Pacifico – été rouge (feat. Dead Astronauts) [Bonus] 05:41
(There’s also a classic Futurecop! cut, “Butterflies,” if you download the album.)