I think it’s about time I did another one of these recommendation roundups. Here are six newly or recently released albums and songs that are in my rotation as of late.
Night Club – Scary World
Goth pop duo Night Club — known as much for sounding like a dark-edged Britney Spears as for their soundtrack work on the erstwhile TV show Moonbeam City and the film Nerdland — recently released the delectably visceral Scary World. The album, their second full-length, takes their debut, Requiem for Romance, and raises the stakes with heavier synths, fatter beats, catchier hooks, and deeper wisdom about the truly messed up nature of interpersonal relationships in our complicated and scary world. Emily Kavanaugh’s vocals are dialed to 11 with her killer pop tone and Mark Brooks brings on a massive offering of unbridled intensity.
Dana Jean Phoenix – PixelDust
Synthwave royalty Dana Jean Phoenix, fresh off her fantastic set at the NEON Retro Fest, has just released the exquisite PixelDust. This time around, Phoenix seems to aim for a bigger sound. The songs are more electro-pop than synth-pop, designed for maximum effect both live and in clubs. What hasn’t changed since 2016’s Synth City is the proliferation of catchy hooks and inventive songwriting and production.
Highlights include the Flyte Tyme worshipping “Funky Fly Free,” the first time she produced a song on her own, and “Be Alright,” which she created with fellow Toronto resident Mecha Maiko and which sounds like Caribou crossed with Madonna and Prince. (Note: There’s a cool video cooking for the excellent single “Only for One Night,” which she wrote with synthy guitar maestro PowerNerd.) Listen for a Phoenix interview on this month’s upcoming episode of The Vehlinggo Podcast.
Metavari/Makeup And Vanity Set – How Much Darker b/w Street Smarts
I can’t think of a more natural split than this. Both Metavari and Makeup and Vanity Set approach their craft with a profound depth and breadth of artistry that brings their brand of electronics to often dark and intense extents. But this time is different, because we live in different times. Metavari literally asks in his song’s title “How Much Darker” things can get and the answer is pretty fucking dark. For his part, MAVS takes his composition and sound design to a red-lit and subterranean darkwave rave intensity. This industrial-tinged release, which the artists worked on together over a period of time, is part of Mind Over Matter Records’ 2018 Seven Inch Of The Month club.
Dallas Campbell – The Seven Sisters and The Serpent
American composer Dallas Campbell, known for his extensive synthesizer collection, recently surprised us all with the release of the fantastically beautiful The Seven Sisters and The Serpent. Campbell goes to galactic and mystical lengths with the prog-rock-infused compositions on this album, combining organic and synthetic instruments to craft an engaging sonic adventure. Click through to his Bandcamp page to get an idea of the scope of instruments used on this excellent release.
OGRE – The Chairman (OST)
Frequent Dallas Campbell collaborator OGRE recently scored Frank White IV’s independent short film called The Chairman, and oh is it killer. The British composer mixes cheesy ’80s diagetics with his trademark nuanced synth work — haunting and almost buttery Berlin arps paired with crystalline, atmospheric synth pads. He taps into the Cliff Martinez deeply on this one. It’s a great release to experience.
The film’s synopsis: Corporate researchers go behind the back of their mysterious employer to test the telepathic abilities of a traumatized girl and her father. MegaTapes has released a particularly creative cassette version of this score.
Roosevelt – ‘Getaway’
Kill it softly and carry a big synth.