The Echo Beat / Volume 2

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Volume 2 of The Echo Beat is being heralded in by the one and only Gregorio Franco. He's already established himself as one of the hardest working artists on the scene, pumping out quality releases across multiple projects, all of which are of the highest quality. His latest release is his second dive into the musical world of Mega Man X with 20XX Volume II. If you're a fan of Mega Man X you've got to be pinching yourself, as the Mega Man X Collection I and II were just released across all the gaming formats + a killer tribute album from one of the best dark synth producers in synthwave. 

If you've been living in a synthwave cave and are somehow unfamiliar with Gregorio Franco and what he does, the only way I can prepare you for this record is by telling you to get ready to have your face melted. How can I put it into words? Imagine Mega Man X filtered through the blackest lens you can find...a well built and intricate lens, mind you, but with a core as black as midnight. That should get you started. All metaphors aside, Gregio put a lot of time and care into this album, from replicating the Capcom logo sound effects to the churning metal riffs that plow through his take on the stage select screen. 

If for some reason you've never played a Mega Man X game and you're confused as to why all of the above even matters, first of all, you need to fix the problem here and play the Mega Man X games. Secondly, Franco has transcended the original source material so well that even if you're unfamiliar with where it came from you're still getting a top tier dark synth album. Just buy it. That's really what it comes down to in the end. Play the embedded tracks and you'll understand.

I've got a new artist that you need to jot down in your "keep an eye out because they're gonna be huge" list. Nimbus22 just dropped the Aural-22 single and it is hot, hot, hot! As the track begins you may think that it has a structure similar to many synthwave tracks. Don't be deceived into thinking this is anything's a trap! While it may pull you in with a familiar sound, there's a breakdown about mid-way that pushes this Aural-22 into overdrive. It's got new wave, Italo Disco, and synthwave all fused together to create something that has my ears perked up waiting to here more. For now I'll have to listen to this one on repeat. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted on any new Nimbus22 releases!

And now for something completely different. If you're a fan of soundtracks, especially from the 70's and 80's era of grindhouse, horror, and exploitation films, boy do I have a treat for you! Disco Cinematic have put together one of the coolest and most original compilations that I've seen in years. SNDTRK blends together an eclectic group of artists who have contributed some seriously entertaining tunes. It's almost impossible for me to describe what you're in for with this release so I urge you to listen through while you're here. Once you've gotten hooked, and it shouldn't take too many tracks for that to happen, head over to Bandcamp to get your hands on it. They've even got it on vinyl! There's something here for everyone, and you can be rest assured that if I'm writing about it there are synthesizers pulsing through each track. Be sure to keep Disco Cinematic in your line of site. This is a label that has some serious tricks up their musical sleeves! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this compilation as much as I do!

I'm going to try and mention something old school that I've been listening to in these Echo Beat articles, something I've had on repeat or a favorite that I keep hearing on 1st Wave over on SiriusXM. This week I've found myself with Killing Joke on repeat. It's beyond me how this band never grew to the level of fame that they so obviously deserve. Let's be honest here, without their riff heavy, dark-tinged post punk music the musical scene that we know and love would be very different. I'm beyond thrilled that they were breathed back into existence in the 2000's and have continued to create music that pushes the envelope of music, still writing poignant and striking lyrics, and paving new roads for new artists to follow.

I'm going to close out this week's volume of The Echo Beat with a live version of my favorite song from the newest album from Chvrches. The absolutely amazing Love is Dead came out in May and "Graffiti" was an instant winner in my book. The Scottish synthpop trio find themselves as a major standard bearer for new artists creating music in a genre that was thought to be dead and buried as the 2000's paved over so many other styles of music. Having seen them live on two occasions it pleased me, and honestly surprised me how much love there is for this music, even though they probably have no idea they're listening to synthpop!