Still Life With Cat or SLWC is a cinematic dark pop project from Pescara, Italy. It features the hypnotic voice Lisa ‘Liz’ Monaco, music by Giampiero Mariani, and lyrics by Alessandro Di Zio. Their debut album “Megadream” boasts ten tracks of captivating emotion.

“Megadream” can only be described as beautifully calm and dark. And this may sound odd, but it’s also visually arresting. I found myself closing my eyes while I listened. “Megadream” is like a painting that you hear with your heart and see with your mind. Try to visualize sentient machines trying to figure out exactly who they are amidst a backdrop of rolling grassy fields, windy oceans, and expansive vistas. This is the true essence of Still Life With Cat. For a dystopian concept album, “Megadream” sounds completely different than I expected it to sound. It’s both evocative and refreshing. This is an album that has its roots in electronic music, but it’s not entirely electronic. These are songs that can and SHOULD BE performed live in an intimate, darkly-lit venue. There acoustic guitars, saxaphones, and jazzy vocals. The percussion is minimal and soft, but it works to the benefit of “Megadream,” not against it.

I really appreciate alternative perspectives on dystopian futures. Especially when they deviate from the traditional cyberpunk backdrop of mega-corporations, driving fast, and neon-soaked skies. Still Life With Cat accomplishes their own unique take on what the future could look like: one that’s full of hope and wonder. “Megadream” is magnificent. I look forward to seeing what SLWC do next.

RECOMMENDED: For people who want to chill out. For people who love calm cinematic music. For people who like vocals. If you dig stuff like Enigma’s “MCMXC A.D.” album you’ll probably really like this.

Stand-out tracks: Blind and Happy (best track from the album imo), Pure Blow, Big Old Black Wolf, A Spark into the Nowhere

Album Color Profile: #E8F5E9

You can find all things Still Life With Cat at https://stilllifewithcat.bandcamp.com/

Let’s face it, 1980s inspired Synthwave/Outrun has lost a lot of its novelty over the last three years. Despite this, producers are still creating content for a genre MASSIVELY overflooded with projects. A lot of these projects aren’t so much actual Synthwave as they are other genres of music. Since when did Synthwave become the buzzword that opened doors in our search engines for producers who aren’t actually producing Synthwave?

Enter Retrodict. A Synthwave producer from Romania who produces actual Synthwave. Retrodict’s sophomore album “Marble Desert” is nothing short of what it claims to be. It’s fun, instrumental Synthwave that has that classic 1980s sound that we all love. Everything is here to help bring about nostalgia in even the most weather-torn synthwarrior: A pulsing low-end, dreamy synthesizers, and an attitude right out of the 1980s. “Marble Desert” sounds like a moody B-movie about a cop gone rogue. “Eyes on You” was my absolute favorite cut as it stands out as the most nostalgic and beautiful—at least to me. “Road Blasters” was also a nice change up from the overall tone of “Marble Desert.” It features reFX sounding guitar leads that remind me a little bit of Dance with the Dead. After spinning “Marble Desert” several times, I kept feeling like I was listening to early Perturbator a la “Nocturne City,” which is just fine by me. As a synthwave fanatic I eat this sort of thing up. And if you happen to be a hardcore purist of the genre, I suspect that you’ll love it too.

Overall, Retrodict has released a solid album. “Marble Deserts” has a modest run time, a clear production value, and an accessible sound that will be familiar to everyone who loves genuine Synthwave.

Protip: put this album on while you do your daily workout routine.

Stand-out tracks: Eyes on You (the best track imo), the title track “Marble Desert,” and “Road Blasters.”

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave purists, retro-addicts, and children of the 1980s.

Album Color Profile: #311B92:

You can find all things Retrodict at https://retrodict.bandcamp.com/

“arisTotal” marks the first formal release from Finnish industrial rockers The Fair Attempts. From the moment I pressed play I was immediately surprised by the quality and sheer catchiness that TFA bottled up into this criminally short EP. “arisTotal” boasts something that’s a bit of a rarity in electronic music in the post-Synthwave era, and that’s vocals. We’re talking, verse, pre-chorus, chorus delivery. While I understand how polarizing vocals can be for most listeners nowadays, I really wish more electronic musicians would go this route. Because unlike most producers who live and die by the instrumental, TFA demands that you listen to it. This is NOT neo-elevator music that you can put on in the background while playing Counterstrike. And because of this, fans of legitimate gothic infused industrial rock are in for absolute treat with this debut EP.

The lyrics are masterfully written. And I guarantee that they will stick with you like an earworm that won’t quit. I’m not ashamed to say, but I was headbanging in my kitchen the first time I heard “Blowback.” It’s catchy as hell, just like the rest of “arisTotal.” To me, this EP should be hailed as an industrial rock classic:

“So what do you say
When your future and your past fornicate?
They make you who you are today
Two wrongs don’t make one right, they say
But I’ll nail you to your cross anyway”
(Excerpt from “Blowback” by The Fair Attempts)

TFA understand the audience they are going for. I love it so much.

When I was in high school I listened to A LOT of The Kovenant , Marilyn Manson, and Mortiis (era 2). So as you could imagine I was something of an industrial Hot Topic type of goth rocker myself–black eyeliner and all. If The Fair Attempts were around back then I have no doubt that I would’ve thrown their CD into my car’s stereo and blasted it in the high school parking lot, much to the annoyance of all the emo kids cutting themselves to Simple Plan two cars over.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Peeps who love catchy industrial rock. If you dig Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, The Kovenant, Ram-Zet, Mortiis, or Psyborg Corp, there is something here for you.

Stand-out tracks: Bad Battery (my personal fav), Blowback, A Day of Concern

Album Color Profile #009999

You can find all things The Fair Attempts at: https://thefairattempts.bandcamp.com/

The first time I heard of ZITH was way back at the end of 2018. A close friend of mine from St. Louis introduced me to a track entitled “Altered Flesh.” It took me by complete surprise. I was looking forward to hearing more. A little over half a year later ZITH dropped the bomb that is their first full length–“NATUS EX MACHINA.” The production quality of this album is top-tier. It’s crystal clear, tight, and knows exactly what it’s trying to accomplish. And then there’s the bass. ZITH is all about it.

There’s something that separates “NATUS EX MACHINA” from all of the other music in my current rotation–it’s transcendent and inoffensive. I think that this release will appeal to practically everybody who enjoys electronic music. At times ZITH’s first outing is extremely danceable, but not at the detriment of it’s overall aesthetic.

The bottom line? ZITH is one of those projects that isn’t easily classified by one genre of electronic music. Instead ZITH has taken a little bit of everything that the so-called greats have done over the past decade and created a fresh listening experience. So you like dark synth? ZITH is dark synth. Outrun? ZITH is outrun. EDM? ZITH is EDM. Dubstep? ZITH is dubstep.
It’s fairly clear to me that the mastermind behind ZITH is something of an audiophile, because “NATUS EX MACHINA” just begs to be played on a high-end audio system. I’m really looking forward to hearing more from ZITH in the future. I think there’s something really special here that deserves to be noticed.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who love Dark Synth, Dubstep, Outrun/Synthwave, EDM.

Stand-out tracks: FALL APART (the best track on the album), ALTERED FLESH, OVERRIDE (evoking those Carpenter Brut TURBO KILLER feels), I AM YOUR FUTURE

Album Color Profile #CC00CC:

You can find all things ZITH at https://zith.bandcamp.com/

Alpha Chrome Yayo’s “The 19th Hole” is a golf-inspired album that feels like the missing link between synthwave, vaporwave, and pure 1990s nostalgia. It made me feel like I was being transported into a world where the sport of golf was the highest good and everything else could go straight to hell.

What’s magical about “The 19th Hole” is how incredibly visual it is. Every song on this release has a story, and with it comes a full experience that gave me memories I didn’t even know I had. I even felt a sad at times, because I knew these memories weren’t even mine. They belong to all of us–and to me this is the biggest strength that “The 19th Hole” has going for it.

Have you ever gone on YouTube just to watch old corny commericals from the 1980s and 90s? Remember how badass the “Crossfire” theme was? Well, Alpha Chrome Yayo does that for golf.
The golfing theme to ACY’s “The 19th Hole” might sound like an odd artistic decision–but it works out beautifully. Are you looking for fresh feels? Then grab your clubs and get your ass on the green. Tee off starts in one hour.

Don’t worry–you’re home now. Pressing play has never been this exciting.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who want nostaligic feels, lovers of golf, lovers of Synthwave, Vaporwave, 90s Sega Saturn FMV games

Stand-out tracks: In the Clubhouse (After Hours), Sweater Round the Shoulders (And One for the Waist), Power Drive (ft. Danny Madigan), Where the HELL is that Caddy?!, The Smell of the Green

Album Color Profile #196F3D

You can find all things ACY at alphachromeyayo.bandcamp.com