Like the Stranger Things soundtrack? Check out these similar synth bands that channel ’80s awesomeness


The fervor may finally be dying down, but for a hot month the internet was positively buzzing about Stranger Things, Netflix’s ’80s-soaked thriller series that expertly blended all of the audio/video cues that defined the decade.

But when I speak of cues that defined “The ’80s,” in this case I mean the ’80s that was still kinda ’70s, with lots of earth-toned interior decorating and an American citizenship that wasn’t quite yet swimming in newfound credit card debt and celebrating unrestrained excess. That ’80s era is fun too – but it’s well-explored territory at this point.

And out of this late ’70s, early-to-mid ’80s era came a sound… a warm, almost glowing noise gave every song an unearthly (yet comforting) aura. I don’t know music history at all, or when the synththesizer truly came into being, but I do know the type of music people created in this time period is among my favorite of all time – and synth band SURVIVE created a top-notch homage / representation of that ’80s sound with their Stranger Things soundtrack.

The official Stranger Things OST is sort of out now – part one is on iTunes with a physical release coming on September 16th. Part two will be online on August 19th, with another physical release after that. A bit complex… but for the time being let’s just enjoy that gat damn opening credits again…

Watching that opening eight times in a month reminded me that I actually have a reasonably good Spotify playlist loaded with similar synth sounds – it’s called “Steamy 80s Sunset” and can be found right underneath the words I’m typing at this very moment.

What is a “steamy 80s sunset?” Generally speaking, it has to be synth and robotic, but also needs an edge to it, something of a menacing nature or ominous tone. That doesn’t mean every single track is downtrodden and suggestive of a Terminator-like apocalypse… but it does need to invoke imagery of a┬áCamero screaming past a bundle of silhouetted palm trees in a Miami sunset. Is the driver up to no good? Is he out for a legal night on the town… or is he perhaps an android who’s just stolen his maker’s car? Who knows! Let the songs guide you.

I feel obliged to end this SMALL sampling with a John Carpenter track. His sound fueled a lot of what we all consider the “80s sound,” especially when it comes to movie soundtracks, so if you’re at all into the modern bands listed above, check out his ’80s work as well as the “Lost Themes” album embedded above. The Vortex track is so good!

Again, I’m no expert in this field. I just know the kind of music I love, and wanted to share the Spotify playlist with y’all in case it leads you to new music. And if you have suggestions PLEASE comment below!

13 thoughts on “Like the Stranger Things soundtrack? Check out these similar synth bands that channel ’80s awesomeness

  1. Thanks for sharing the playlist.

    I can vouch for Carpenter Brut. I bought his album ‘Trilogy’ a few months back on the strength of the song ‘Escape From Midwich Valley’ which was used in the trailer for Hotline Miami 2, and to my surprise I’ve probably listened to it more than any other album in the last 5+ years.

    Almost every track is killer – musically dense but extremely catchy and memorable, with the only exceptions for me being the non-instrumental tracks towards the end of the album (I find this to be the general rule with a lot of synth-wave artists).

    I also like Perturbator quite a bit – happily recommend any of his albums.

  2. Your spotify playlist is awesome, Brett. It’s really kept me entertained cruising around at night in or after the rain my city’s been getting as of late.

  3. Thief by Tangerine Dream, or any early Tangerine Dream album, Blade Runner soundtrack from Vangelis. Oxygene by Jean Michelle Jarre, also Equinoxe from Jean Michelle Jarre, Audentity by Klause Schultz. I would reccomend exploring albums from all these artists that date from the late 70s to early 80s when analog sequencers/sythesizers were still popular.

  4. I’d be up for more posts suggesting music. Outside of Shame Songs and holiday hits, I feel music doesn’t get discussed enough around here. ­čÖé

  5. Lazerhawk is awesome. If you like them, check out Kavinsky, Mitch Murder, and Miami Nights 1984.

    And if you want a similar soundtrack, check out the music score to Cold in July by Jeff Grace and It Follows by Disasterpiece.

  6. Brett and everyone else in these comments: Look up a band called Zombi. It’s not exactly synthwave, but they are awesome and have a sound that is as if John Carpenter never stopped making 80s horror movie themes.

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