I am always inspired by the music that comes out in the synth music space every month and April is no exception. Indie Discotheque is proud to compile for you this month's best. With music from heavyweights like Tycho, Hot Chip, and The Juan Maclean, to lesser-known projects like Digital Shades, Froyo and DreamStation1986, every song featured in this months list is worth taking the time to enjoy.
1. Tycho - Easy
I don't know how he does it. These are sounds that are always so crisp and fresh, yet completely familiar. The pacing of "Easy" keeps my interest throughout, and the clarity of the acoustic percussion provides just the right contrast to the synth work. The way the vocals are processed like an instrument is done in a superb fashion. Tycho certainly makes it seem easy.
2. Onni Boi - Tides
You know me, I'm almost always in love with a falsetto vocal. But it has to be paired with just the right backing textures, and Onni Boi has found a recipe that I can sink my ears into. The synth textures throughout the track are playful and airy, floating when they need to, bouncing at other times. The accent guitar work throughout the song is complementary to the mix.
3. Hot Chip - Hungry Child
It's nearly impossible to pass over a Hot Chip track, and "Hungry Child" is certainly one that belongs on a list like this. The track opens with very dissonant chords, an intense vocal, and plucking string-like textures. It's an emotional plea, with lyrics like, "been trying hard to pull you back all my life," leading you into yet another Hot Chip session of indie dance bliss.
4. Hotel Pools - Spring
Ben Braun of Hotel Pools keeps pushing out the tracks on this project, and it's the more "uptempo" synth work like this one that has drawn the most attention. And for good reason. The production value on this project has been a top tier example, and the chill synth genre needs seasoned vets to lift up the genre and prove this style of filtered synth work isn't just a fad.
5. The Juan Maclean - Time Out of Joint
This is a dreamy, lightweight synth jam that fills a void in uptempo synth work. So many tracks are slower these days, it's nice to have this change of pace from The Juan Maclean. While I typically gravitate to the vocal tracks from this project, this non-DFA, split release on Cin Cin has allowed the exploration and the pleasure we take part in this amazing composition.
6. Last Island - Let's Go Somewhere
The style of songwriting and the modern take Last Island bring us on this instrumental is exactly what I hope for when seeking out today's best synth music. This could just as easily be a sing-along pop song with a vocal, and that's a tribute to the songwriting here. There are so many songs that rely on the vocal, and so many that need a vocal to save it. But not this song.
7. Pardon Moi - Rodeo Star
"Give me your heart, give me your hands... you're the rodeo star." If this wasn't such an awesome Italo style synth jam with thoroughly engaging production clarity I might not give Berlin's Pardon Moi the attention. But cheesy lyrics aside, you still have to appreciate the sing-along nature of the melody. It's not like Italo disco is known for compelling lyrics, anyway.
8. DreamStation1986 - Maneuver
Another chill synth track inspired by the current wave, DreamStation1986 has been churning out the tracks for the past nine months or so. "Maneuver" is one of the finest works to date, clearly inspired by artists like Com Truise. The way DreamStation1986 weaves between light bounces of synth, merging chord progression with heavy bass stabs is unique.
9. Futurecop! - Fade Away feat. NINA
I listen to this track and I want to hear a solo piano version with NINA. But naturally, that version wouldn't be featured here, would it? There is a passion in this song that we don't usually get in the music of Futurecop, and this is a testament to the power of the lyric. A statement by and for the future music of this project in the importance of paring with great singers.
10. Froyo - Heart
I had never heard of Froyo until now and that bums me out a bit because the project has been around for 6 years. This song is absolutely gorgeous, musically and lyrically. Cheesy sax solo aside (the song really doesn't need it), it's a commentary on how we keep living day by day, and nothing will change, to the point where you wonder if what you're living through is real.
11. Curses - Surrender (Djedjotronic Remix)
It's dark and moody, with the kind of juicy arpeggiation over classic industrial beats that I crave. Dressed in leather, this is the kind of track that gets you dancing wildly in a black room with a loud sound system, fog machine, and a single strobe. The pacing of the remix is absolute perfection, guaranteeing your surrender as soon as you get out on the floor.
12. Kraver - Digital Highway feat. Colin Lee
This is uptempo music for driving at night on the highway alone, on your own, with information overloads. You are driving fast, but of course, not exceeding the speed limit more than 10% because that could result in serious citations. You don't need that on your record. After all, this is not just analog, but the DIGITAL highway we're talking about. That's fast!
13. The Bad Dreamers - How to Disappear (Savoir Adore Remix)
Savoir Adore has been putting out so much great music lately and I love the way their style pairs with The Bad Dreamers. An entirely new take on a song that is already a pleasure to listen to, but makes it that much more accessible to the dance floor. The isolation of the chorus enhances the original and adds pace to the song, carrying us through the journey.
14. Digital Shades - Summer Rain
I swear everything John Kunkel of The New Division sings on is gold. There is something about his voice that draws me in, wholeheartedly, every time I hear him. Digital Shades is a project with him and James Meays of Missing Words, and the production of the synth work in "Summer Rain" is exceptional. I hope this duo continues to release more under this moniker.
15. Diamond Field & Bob Haro - Won't Compromise (Circuit Work Remix)
Circuit Work has lifted this duo of Diamond Field and Bob Haro (yes, that Bob Haro, the BMX legend) up from a song that's a pleasure to listen to, to a track that is an immersive joy, and I attribute this solely to the production of the synth work completed for this remix. The stereo effects of the synth wrap around your head. I also have to say the synth solo is jaw-dropping.