April 4, 2022 — It is time for another Wavecave roundup, and this one is coming with some heavy hitters in a few subgenres. This month, there is a little of everything from traditional synthwave to some smooth jazz-inspired tunes and even a big production with its own mini-horror movie music video. As is always the case, these catchy retro wave melodies will have you bobbing your head whether or not you intend to.
Start Smooth Like Cruise
Max Cruise released a pair of smooth jazz-inspired songs from his album City Lights. In ‘Return to Sunset Beach,’ the underlying synth is overshadowed by steamy saxophone riffs but makes itself known in all the right spots creating a marriage of sounds that will make your hair stand on end. The title describes the feel of this song perfectly as you will find your mind wandering to the idea of sunset rendevous with a lover on the beach where all the stress melts away and nothing matters but that moment.
‘Red Dawn’ mixes it up with some sweet electric guitar licks that volley back and forth with the saxophone to create a somehow inspiring sound despite the lack of vocals on the track. This is the kind of song I would expect to hear in the background of an 80s movie hero’s redemption arc. The nearly indescribable feelings that this song digs up will definitely have listeners playing it on repeat as they try to figure out why it digs so deep into the subconscious.
With how stellar both these tracks are you know the entire City Lights album is a great way to ease into your Monday morning or even a romantic Saturday night.
As per usual, you’ll find both tracks on the Yestermade™ Spotify playlists.
Attack the Week with These Aggressive Compositions
One of the many beautiful qualities of synthwave is how there are so many subgenres that all fit under the “wave banner”. A shining example is ‘Rock and Rage’ by Oscillian, which marries aspects of hard rock with driving synthesizers to create a unique genre-bending audio experience. The pounding drum and underlying melody work their way into your body forcing your head to bob and making you want to get up and attack the day.
One of my favorites to come out of the Wavecave this month is ‘Fingers of Fury’ by McRocklin & Hutch ft. Michael Angelo Batio. This one is a little more subdued than ‘Rock and Rage,’ but it still has a driving spirit behind it that all but forces you to perform on your air guitar.
I keep rocking out to this song no matter how many times it plays in the background. The one-two punch combo of synth and guitar mixed with a bit of vocal sampling keeps your brain focused from start to finish and leaves you wanting more.
Both of these tracks need to immediately be featured on your workout playlist or any playlist you listen to when you want to get stuff done because they will motivate you to put in the extra effort.
These tracks have, of course, been added to the Yestermade™ Spotify playlists.
Classic Retrowave Will Get You Through the Week
It’s impossible to recreate the magic that was 80s cinema, but luckily the same can’t be said for their soundtracks. ‘When It’s Love’ by Ultraboss is pure 80s nostalgia made in a new age. This song is reminiscent of every 80s action-comedy soundtrack — and we’re here for it. Retrowave is more known for its synthesizers than it is for its singing, but songs like this remind us how vocals can play a part in the experience, and this song is truly an experience.
If you are looking for a little mid-day pick-me-up, ‘Escape’ by Wice is precisely what you need. The energy this song brings to the table is undeniable as it dances over your eardrums with eclectic sounds that feel at home in the background of a videogame or on the dance floor. Even if you are stuck behind a screen at work, this crowd-pleaser will energize you and put a smile on your face.
Finishing up the most traditional retrowave selections is ‘Malibu Outrun’ by stalwart producer Sellorekt/LA Dreams (who often cooperate with Roxy Drive.) This bouncing track takes a slightly more laid-back approach than some of the faster-paced retro wave offerings, but it is nice to have some variety.
It is easy to get lost in the beat and not even notice this song’s over four-minute run time. ‘Malibu Outrun’ is a great palate cleanser to pop in your playlist between some of the heavier songs.
Check out the Yestermade™ Spotify playlists to listen now.
A Cinematic Adventure
‘The Widowmaker’ by Carpenter Brut featuring synthwave loyalist Gunship is an exciting genre-bender, but the song is almost secondary to the accompanying music video. The first time you listen to this track, it should be separated from the video to truly appreciate the vocals and the composition, both of which are top-notch. Then, enjoy it again with the music video that mashes up horror genres with stunning imagery to create a mind-bending counterpart to the music.
The song and video are both artfully crafted, but the fact that Carpenter Brut was able to make a music video featuring Cole Sprouse (of Eight Crazy Nights and I’m in the Band fame) with such high production value lends credence to the direction of synthwave and its continued growth in mainstream popularity.
Totally worth a listen or two: Yestermade™ Spotify playlists.
Get a Little Dark with Plague Doctor
If you are in the mood for something a little darker, look no further than Essenger’s ‘Plague Doctor (Fury Weekend Remix). The layers to this song keep on coming with a soft intro built upon a deep synth rhythm that sets the expectations for the experience.
The music is fantastic by itself, but the vocals transform the song into an addicting darkwave masterpiece.
There is little doubt that Essenger will win some Darkwave fans with this remix. There is a dark romanticism to this song that feels dangerously seductive.
A Feast of Sound
Timedriver’s ‘Downlink’ rounds out Wavecave with an ear-pleasing track that masterfully mixes music and vocal recordings to create not just a song but an experience. The traditional synthwave melody combined with generous hi-hats will get you tapping your toes, but the astronaut audio recordings peppered throughout, transforming this song into a story.
The recordings are barely discernable from the music, making them just another instrument at Timedriver’s disposal, and they are masterfully wielded. You can’t go wrong with this one.
All of the above are available on the Yestermade™ Spotify playlists. Enjoy the show!