Today is Father’s Day and I therefore thought that now would be as great a time as any to shine the ol’ Synth Spotlight on everyone’s favorite supernatural surrogate patriarch: Vampire-Step Dad!
I already reviewed his latest and greatest release, “Love Bites,” which again is amazing but when you reach a certain age you just have to ask your father the really tough and awkward questions, like why is “My Biological Father a Werewolf“?
Honestly, while that’s probably something you should really take up with your Mother, it also just so happens to be the title of Vampire Step-Dad’s first release! Although a short three-piece EP, each track still packs a punch, kicking off with Columbia. It’s a high octane song, with a wonderfully dreamlike solo and break down in the middle, plus with some shredding on the guitar it’s no wonder Mom couldn’t help but take notice! She likes them tall, dark, and a little batty.
Speaking of the next track, The Night I Met Your Mother, it’s the first introduction to the smooth slow jam sounds that Vampire Step-Dad would eventually become known for with, again, some impressive guitar work to accompany the sultry synths; truly a charmer with a hard edge!
The final track is Green Berets for Breakfast, and Dad is truly going Commando on this one, letting it all hang out with a fist pumping beat and synth work that’ll get you suited up and ready to head out for battle! Just be home by 7pm, ok?
Now, before launching into Vampire Step-Dad’s next release, I just want to say how truly inspiring he is as an artist and one of the shining beacons in the synthwave scene. When he’s not engaging people on Twitter, or through his newsletter, with a positive and supportive energy that truly makes you feel like you’re apart of a family, he’s playing live shows (lovingly dubbed “family reunions”) and opening up for acts like Carpenter Brut and TWRP. He’s the kind of swell guy that would gladly give you the sweater off his back to keep you warm.
Which brings us to “Sweater Weather,” and where else to begin than with The Beginning, the opening track which sets the tone by absolutely slaying on the synth hard and heavy! The second track is a remix of Green Berets for Breakfast and, if you thought it was awesome the first time, this redux will make you fall in love all over again and you know what else happens when you fall in love?
You see stars, and in the song I Want the Stars, you get just that feeling of laying down in the grass on a hot summer night while staring up at the sky and dreaming about all the possibilities. You may have stayed out too late, caught up in those dreams, and although you’re Breaking Curfew you don’t even care. Especially not when such a masterfully done sax solo, performed by Mike Groesch, hits you. It’s simply euphoric and makes an already great track better.
Ten and Two keeps that synthy sweetness coming; remember the time that Vampire Step-Dad taught you to drive? I don’t think that anyone will ever forget that episode, or this song that was featured during those driving scenes because, even though you were behind the wheel, it was the music that really put the pedal to the metal and this song is the perfect track to cruise around the ‘burbs.
We end the album with Please Jan Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em and, much like the title itself alludes to, it is quite the passionate tribute to the man while also retaining that original sound as, once again, a guitar wails perfectly in accompaniment with the synth. Dad has range like a Wolfman’s got gnards.
As I mentioned before, one of the best aspects about Vampire Step-Dad is his interactions with his fans or his “family,” and though he may enjoy a good bloody bite from time to time, he still shows his humanity and humility by taking it all in stride; like the time he had a little mixup during a live show.
However, that’s why we love him because, while he is an impressive artist in his own right, he also doesn’t take himself too seriously and just tries to have fun and that is an infectious feeling. I mean, have you seen The Fridge, a collection of fanart on his website? Things like that never cease to put a smile on my face!
That said, I can only imagine how Vampire Step-Dad feels, and in “A Night in the Life of…,” one might just find some answers or at least further insight into his musical prowess.
We start off with Thursday at 7pm, a skit for an imagined Vampire Step-Dad sitcom, and it’s honestly one of those fang-in-cheek things about him which I think many people have become enamoured by as a result.
After that introduction is The Dawn of Man, which is very OutRun in nature, featuring some amazing guitar work by Perfect Science. The next song, Invitation, is just that: an almost hypnotic track that invites you in for more and Day Dreams delivers on that welcoming invite with more of that guitar work that Vampire Step-Dad is known for but here it takes front and center stage instead of being simply a backing track like in many other songs.
That continues in On the Run… Again as the guitar shreds throughout, while the synth brings back some of those OutRun elements from earlier, creating one hell of a ride! Speaking of hell, You Must Feed is one of Vampire Step-Dad’s more darker songs and certainly plays different in contrast to many that came before, but regardless it is still a great track and a prime example that even though Dad is often one of carefree smiles he can still grin and bear his fangs if needed.
Now, throughout this synth spotlight I have talked a lot about Vampire Step-Dad’s proficiency with both synths, guitars, and how extremely talented he is in merging them together into some masterfully composed tracks. To me, personally, High Stakes is the best example of this as it literally sounds like the synth and guitar are waging an all out war for supremacy, trying to outdo the other. Epic is an understatement and has to be heard to be believed.
And thus we come to the end of another Synth Spotlight. Again, at the further risk of sounding like I’m trying to score some major brownie points (because picking a favorite kid is nothing a parent should ever have to do), Vampire Step-Dad is an absolute treasure in the synthwave scene and community.
The hashtag #Synthfam is used quite often on Twitter to represent us all and therefore, for my money, Vampire Step-Dad certainly sits at the head of the table for this family. I look forward to hopefully attending a reunion sooner than later.