This is the first post in an occasional column focusing on artists’ Top 5 favorite songs, EPs, and/or full-length releases at a certain moment. Here is the submission of Israeli synthwave producer Alex Karlinsky (AKA Highway Superstar), a fount of wisdom in the Vehlinggo sphere. His most recent album is Endgame. You can also hear his music on the Kung Fury soundtrack. He plays keys live with beloved Israeli synthpop group Reo.
Anna of the North – ‘Oslo’
From the synth noise sweeps, to the bell stabs, to the heavily reverberated vocals, this song channels everything winter. Anna’s bright and piercing vocals instantly bring Lauren Mayberry (CHVRCHES) to mind. The icing on this cake — see what I did there? — is definitely the underlying synthwave backbeat, which makes this cut so damn powerful.
Haim – ‘You Never Knew’
Sometimes it’s enough to listen to just one Haim song to understand their musical surroundings as they were growing up. As an avid Fleetwood Mac fan I’m completely in love with “You Never Know.”
I could easily imagine Stevie and Lindsey joining Haim on stage for an impromptu cameo. While I strongly doubt this particular song will appeal to the bluetooth-speaker-wielding, Ugg-clad masses out there, it wasn’t meant to. To me, this song is an ode to all these precious LPs and 8-tracks you found in a box in your dad’s garage. And a hat tip to a stylish, warm production by Ariel Rechtshaid.
Hoops – Routines
I mean, I couldn’t believe my speakers when I first heard this. Hoops took all the good elements from post-punk and 80s indie pop and made it theirs, incorporating an unassuming, hazy DIY sound. The LP Routines, issued by Fat Possum Records, is highly recommended.
Gigamesh – ‘Slow Love’
I know. I’m late to the Gigamesh party. But let’s be honest, he plays an unfair game! He’s like a Jedi Knight, bending the physics of house and funk to his favor. Things of note in this track: Crispy synth brass, incredible hi-hats, silky-smooth vocals, and a groove. Taken from his slick, late 2016 album, Time Travel, which is highly recommended.
Nite Sprite – ‘Everything You Do’
This gorgeous piece of work should be in anyone’s top 10 list of instrumentals this year. The epic, expansive, immersive six-minute track takes you on a journey through the jungle. Is it a concrete jungle? A real one? We will never know. But every listen you will discover a new funky element.
A mute guitar lick, a sided drum, a strange sounding sample. But this sometimes-chaotic layering brings out the best of results, and one of the most funky, groove 80s-influenced synth track I’ve heard lately.
(Feature Photo: Highway Superstar poses. Someone should tag this hotness as NSFW. Photo Credit: Ofir Abe.)