Amid Canada’s and the United States’ birthday celebrations, let me share some quality music with you. I suspect the songs will help color your festivities with excellent sounds.
Arcade High – New Impressions
Arcade High, comprised of Ryan Boosel and Patrick Farone, were one of the first synthwave groups I listened to. It was probably 2012 that somehow I heard their song “On the Edge of Summer,” a classic in the genre. They’ve dabbled in chiptune and other expressions of synth-driven music, but that dreamy synthwave gem was the first that got me.
They’d eventually move over to the storied Telefuture — a label that helped launch everyone from Makeup and Vanity Set and Perturbator to Rolly Mingwald, Betamaxx, Robert Parker, Waveshaper and more. Arcade High’s Telefuture fare, including 2014’s pop cut “Heat Wave” (featuring Morissa Trunzo) and their 2013 album Pixel Passion, are crucial contributions to the genre.
With that in mind, comes new album New Impressions — released on July 2 — which further solidifies the Pittsburgh artists’ reputation for avoiding dogmatic interpretations of the synthwave genre. The new, self-released album has one foot in their retro-minded past and another in more modern dance music, creating a blend of synthwave, synth-funk, and electro that blasts a fortifying sense of excitement, wonder, and energy into your soul. If it’s not the best Arcade High album since Pixel Passion, it’s certainly my favorite of their work since then. Highlights include album opener and lead single “Radio (Feat. Syleaf),” the instrumental “We Were Titans,” the funky “Coat of Arms,” and the jovial Max Martinesque “Time (And Time Again)” with Farone on vocals. (All embedded below)
(Bonus points for Arcade High commissioning James “Signalnoise” White for the album cover.)
Bat for Lashes – ‘Kids in the Dark’
I don’t think I’ve ever written about Bat for Lashes (AKA Natasha Khan), but I’ve been a fan for a fairly long time. Her songs “Rest Your Head” and “All Your Gold” from 2012’s The Haunted Man got me through some very odd times, and “The Wizard” From 2006’s Fur and Gold is an exercise in haunting majesty. On new cut “Kids in the Dark,” released in June but with a brand-new video out this week, Khan embarks on a richly textured and deeply meaningful, synth-infused pop path. It flows like a modern take on a 1980s pop ballad and I love it so. The album it’s on, Lost Girls, releases Sept. 6. Pre-order opportunities abound.
Plastic Picnic – ‘After You’
The Brooklyn-based indie-rock/indie-pop band recently released a dreamy and spacious cut. The first single from upcoming July 19 release Vistalite, “After You” has Plastic Picnic’s trademark dreamy guitar chimes, atmospheric synths, soulful vocals, and compelling songwriting. Along with Savoir Adore and Wild Nothing, Plastic Picnic counts among my favorite of this style of Brooklyn acts.
Mitch Murder – ‘Body Talk’
A thick dose of lovely ’80s cheese from the Swedish synthwave pioneer, known best for his music on Kung Fury (including “True Survivor,” the cut with The Hoff) and his 2014 Mad Decent album Interceptor. (In the scene he’s known for a lot more, but I realize many of you have not strayed so deep.) It’s been four years since the last Mitch Murder interview on Vehlinggo. I should remedy that…
Vampire Step-Dad – The Sun Also Sets
This new release finds the Georgia-based synthwave artist diving into the dreamy, sometimes melancholic territory of producers such as Killstarr and Dream Fiend. Not sure if it’s just me, but I find this to be the best hat that ol’ Step-Dad wears.
Les Enfants Terribles – ‘Take 1’ Mix from 2010 for the Valerie Collective
Back in 2010, during a time of massive creative energy across the scene, Le Matos created a rather stacked and compelling mix for the Valerie Collective blog. That’s all I’ll say about that. Why don’t you just listen to it and feel that creative spark?
(Feature Photo: Cover art for Plastic Picnic’s Vistalite by Lincoln Lute.)
(Editor’s Note: As established in this post, the One-Liners column is a concise but meaningful way to highlight Vehlinggo-recommended releases. It’s not exactly weekly, but it can be. Check out the most recent one.)
PS: If you still have some time to read and listen to stuff, hit The Beach House.