I’ve gotten really interested in synths since moving to Brooklyn. I’m not sure why, but I’ve just had a year-long craving for weird, spacey sounds.
When I was younger, back in the 90s, I associated synths with dated 80s music (think Cindy Lauper). Of course, that all changed as indie rock began reclaiming synth sounds in the mid-2000s. For a lot of kids my age it started with the “Nintendo sounds” of The Strokes‘ “12:51”. That sound wasn’t even a synth, it was just one of them playing really high on the fretboard with a good bit of chorus to make his guitar sound like a synth. But it still showed everyone that synths could sound cool in indie rock. Then when Wolf Parade put out their first album, and Spencer Krug really owned that analogue sound, I started to think these synth things were actually pretty cool. Instead of sounding big and bright, like they did on a lot of cheesy 80s stuff, Krug’s synths sounded weird and ominous.
Around this time I came across the first Black Mountain album and loved it. I found out that the so-called “Black Mountain Army” had all these satellite bands and acts. One of those acts was synth player Jeremy Schmidt‘s solo project Sinoia Caves. After a long period of unsuccessful attempts, I finally managed to hear his album The Enchanter Persuaded, and I really liked it. I’d never listened to this kind of weird, spacey, experimental stuff, or if I had, I didn’t like it. But this time I did, and through that I got into even more weird, abstract stuff like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.
This mix doesn’t have any abstract stuff. I wanted to put something together that might give a friend of mine more reference points for the use of synths in rock music. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of cool sounds here.
(I noticed while making this mix that Vancouver makes a lot of angsty music for such a beautiful city…)
This is my second autumn in New York and therefore my third one living in the Northeast. Sure, some would consider Toronto the Northeast, but by American standards, it might be more Midwest, considering how close it is to Detroit and Chicago. In any case, there’s definitely a beautiful, Northeast autumn vibe that some bands and artists capture really well. Here’s a little regional, seasonal playlist.
After years of dreaming about it, two weeks ago, I finally made the move to Brooklyn. Every day I wakeup and walk outside here, and I think, “Yes. I made it.” And I think my living here finally has led me to better understand the music of Brooklyn. So I put together a little mix with just nine of the amazing bands that this borough can proudly claim as its own.
There is kind of an overarching Brooklyn sound. It’s tattooed and bearded. Fearlessly experimental. Almost sunbaked and windswept. And the musicians are incredible, but smart and talented enough not to fall into cliched patterns or sound overly ‘professional’.