Your Sister is a Werewolf is the Synthwave project of producer Josh Molen from Knoxville, Tennesee. YSIAW first burst onto the scene in February 2019 with their debut album “C.H.A.D.” Their latest album is entitled “Captain Video.” It was released on August 28th, 2020.

On the cover is a really wonderful image by Chrome and Lightning. It features someone standing in front of a video rental store in tight jeans and Reeboks. For those of you who have never experienced the absolute joy of entering one of these fine establishments, let me just tell you, it’s thrilling. This image perfectly captures the sheer level of excitement I used to feel going to the movie store. The blinding lights. The smell of buttery day old popcorn. The sticky floors. That weird plastic smell that strangely reminds me of petrol. Man, I miss the 80s and 90s. What a time to be alive. I feel truly blessed to live nearby one of the remaining video stores in the U.S. I still make weekly trips down there in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. Interestingly enough, there still exists an actual Captain Video store in San Mateo, California. Now whether or not Molen took inspiration from this former Bay Area franchise, I’m not sure. Regardless, I love this album cover. It’s says a lot without saying much.

So how does “Captain Video” sound? Extremely authentic. It’s on point for the time period that it’s trying to emulate. This is a function of using the right tools in the correct context. From the word “go” “Jumping the Turnstiles” serves as the penultimate YSIAW track. It shows off a little bit of everything that this album does. And what this album does, it does well. I particularly enjoy the pointed synth that comes in at 2:12. I was almost instantly reminded of John Carpenter’s opening theme from Escape from New York.

While the presentation of “Captain Video” seemingly takes a lot of influence from early 1980s soundtracks its general vibe is much more akin to similar music being produced in the mid-eighties. You know, when producers of the time really started to get a little more comfortable with the tools at their disposal. The way that Molen was able to make “Captain Video” breathe is nothing short of amazing. Ironically enough, “Breathe Easily” highlights this quite a bit through some exceptional compression, reverb, and EQ choices that make the track come alive in such a way that feels effortless and easy to listen to. There’s nothing more satisfying than a little bit of audible air. My ears are in love with “Captain Video” because of it.

There are so many nuanced and deliberate details coming together here in order to create a fantastic nostalgic vibe. The nervous system of how “Captain Video” sounds so authentic lies in three key points: its wideness in the stereo field, it’s warmth (greatly aided by pitchbendiness), and the analogue sounding distortion that appears throughout the album.

In my opinion, “Neon Illusion” demonstrates the wideness of this album well. At 1:38, the bells and plucks sound three dimensional amidst the backdrop of a synthesized Juno-106esque sax. As this part continues the sax itself feels like it’s shifting from a more synthesized sound to a much more realistic version of itself. It’s quite impressive to hear if you’re paying careful attention.

Tasteful distortion and warmth are also incredibly vital to how the ear perceives whether or not music sounds vintage or not. And let me just tell you, Molen is a goddamn wizard when it comes to his command of how to implement these two things into his music. “Digital Image Correction” highlights an example of how to use warmth and distortion correctly. Good golly Molly the pads scream on this album. Listen in at around 1:30 to see what I mean.

Overall, what Your Sister is a Werewolf has done here is perhaps the most enjoyable Synthwave album that I’ve heard all year. This isn’t Synthwave in name only, this is actual Synthwave that was carefully crafted to accurately emulate a specific period of time. For serious, “Captain Video” was such a goddamn treat to listen to. Mr. Molen discounts nothing on this release, and uses the entire spectrum of hearable sound to make a memorable album worthy of your time. Please check this one out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Mitch Murder, fans of movie soundtracks from the mid-eighties, Synthwave heads looking for authentic vibes.

Stand-Out tracks: ALL! But if I had to pick, listen to “Jumping the Turnstiles,” “Slow Going (feat. Gab Manette),” “Neon Illusion,” “Digital Image Correction,” and “Late Fees.”

Album Color Profile: #EBDEF0

You can find all things Your Sister is a Werewolf at https://yoursisterisawerewolf.bandcamp.com/

Gab Manette is a Synthwave producer from Montreal. He’s been releasing retro sounding tunes for a couple of years now. Last year he released a really good little EP called “Dream Dimension.” His follow up is a mini-album entitled “Making Waves.” It was released on May 29th, 2020.

On the cover is a very dapper looking Gab who looks proud of the good work he’s done on “Making Waves.” The aesthetic is sort of like a mash-up between A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” “Sixteen Candles,” and Bert Schnick from “Shock Treatment.” It’s quite a cool looking image, and I think it accurately captures the laid back vibe of this release.

After spinning “Making Waves” at least a dozen times there was one thing that caught my attention: this is extremely calming music. I spent a few afternoons doing my daily workout whilst listening to this and found myself losing track of time. “Making Waves” really got me into the zone, giving me something to look forward to everyday. I found it very difficult to get distracted while listening to this. I’m not entirely sure what this is a function of—but “Making Waves” feels magical. I’m frequently tense, and this album helped me to relax and destress all of the needless tension in my body in some kind of hypnotic exhalation.

Gab’s track “Unwind” is pretty much the quintessential high point of his musical/engineering genius due to how textured it is. There’s a certain sparkle to this track that’s really happening. The drums, while low key, sit comfortably in the mix amidst bright flourishes in a percussive dance of structure. The pan pipes are the best part here as they are masterfully interwoven into the mix of the track’s momentum. “Prom Night” is the most romantic song on “Making Waves” and is slow paced enough that I found it to be a great song to cooldown to after an hour of cardio. Although short, “Talk Show” is probably my favorite cut from the album. It’s super 1990s sounding. This is primarily due to how the percussion and horn sections on this track are arranged. I don’t think it would be out of place on the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” live action movie’s soundtrack. Other highlights include the Rocky-esque “Judge Reinhold” named after the actor of the same name, and “Portfolio” which reminds me of the type of innocuous, fun toybox music my kindergarten teacher would throw on during “class” way back in 1989.

Overall, “Making Waves” is a short, digestible, nostalgic trip. It’s not so nostalgic that you’re going to be brought to tears. This is the type of nostalgia that’s captures mostly positive vibes albeit in a somewhat romantic pseudo-melodramatic way. There’s a lot of color to “Making Waves” on the production side of things that make it a fascinating listen. This will appeal to both Synthwave neophytes and veterans alike. Please check it out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Chillwave, Synthwave, and 80s vibes.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Talk Show,” “Judge Reinhold,” “Unwind,” and “Prom Night.”

Album Color Profile: #IDE9B6

You can find all things Gab Manette at https://gabmanette.bandcamp.com/