Synthwave: Where The '80s Past And '10s Future Collide!

Kavinsky, whose "Nightcall" was a highlight of the "Drive" soundtrack album 2009).
Let's say you're a child of the 80's who, in adulthood, has enjoyed modern technology to essentially travel back in time and catch up on all the primo stuff you missed the first time around. Or maybe you saw the movie "Drive" (featuring the ever-dreamy Ryan Gosling) and found yourself loving the soundtrack; especially "A Real Hero" by College featuring Electric Youth.

Truth be told, Napster, YouTube and Spotify have given me the alternate universe childhood that I have often dreamed of, but even that well eventually runs dry because, let's face it, you can't bring the 80's back. They're over. There can be no new '80s music.
Or can there?

My current MO for discovering new music is merely to do a "full album" search on YouTube, click on something I've never heard of that looks interesting, burn the file to a CDR and taking said CDR into the shop to listen while I work. If I don't dig the sound, the disc becomes a coaster for my coffee.

If the sounds move me, however, I run an extensive background search on the artist, as we most nerdy of music fans tend to do, and then buy the actual physical album. This proved harder to do than expected since the entire genre - "synthwave" -seems to be largely comprised of the musical equivalent of shell corporations: You know there's somebody behind the curtain pushing all the buttons, but its hard to find out who, much less show your support with a purchase of an artist's physical product. Oh, downloads and streaming options are plenty, as most artists practically give their music away, but grabbing a CD or, better yet, vinyl copy takes a bit of effort.

Maybe it was the name Trevor Something or the album art that is equal parts "Blade Runner" and Duran Duran's Rio, but the next thing I know I'm rocking out to "Come Back Down"'s flawless co-opting of the bass line from New Order's "Blue Monday", not to mention a brief, but recognizable snippet of Gary Numan's "Cars". Ah, maybe the reason this stuff isn't on CD/Vinyl/Cassette is because getting the necessary clearances would be problematic. Is this hobbyist regurgitation or a display of absolute genius.

And then you find yourself singing along to "Summer Love" and thinking "How was this not a hit in '82?" and then you catch yourself. That's the legitimacy that Trevor Something brings to the album, not to mention the recent single "Parasite". He's released an even newer single since called "Do It Again", but its nowhere near as good.

So who is Trevor Something, you ask?

If you believe the official bio on Trevor,  he is a British pop singer who died suddenly in the '80s only to be transported into another body thirty years in the future. Those who choose to believe the myth are in for a richly textured and lovingly detailed journey back to the early '80s.

A scroll of YouTube's sidebar reveals full albums by the likes of Com Truise, VHS Glitch, Noir Deco, and Timecop1983, who offers up a wonderfully detailed nod to the best of '80s production flourishes, with the dreamiest of ethereal female vocals that are a mix of Cocteau Twins and T'Pau.

We then visited the YouTube channel responsible for uploading both clips, New Retro Wave, and step into an alternate universe of sorts; an entire channel/website/record label with a focus on the obviously expansive world of "retro wave".  Don't beat yourself up, we too are wondering where we've been for the past few years. How could we have missed something that was so "right down our alley"?

The site, record label, NRW Records recently released a soundtrack compilation for an imaginary '80s video game called Magnatron, featuring Waveshaper, Daniel Deluxe and an entire stable of "synthwave" acts that may or may not actually exist. The label, however, took the brave step of releasing the album on limited runs of CD and vinyl, both of which promptly sold-out in days.

Further investigation leads me to a Reddit forum called, amazingly enough, NewRetroWave wherein one is treated to a literal cavalcade of full albums by dozens and dozens of "retro wave" acts. It is at this point that we suddenly realize THIS is what the '80s would have been like had we had the internet.

Chances are, if you need to find us, we'll be losing our mind in said forum to the lovingly reverential recreations of music's golden era - yes, I said "golden era".

Listen for yourself and see if you don't agree.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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