While I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of summer, one of the fondest memories I associate with these hot and humid days is the fun I had spending countless hours of my summer breaks playing video games in elementary and middle school. My friends and I would try to stay up all night, hopped up on knock-off Oreos and discount soda (Mountain Lightening or Dr. Cola, anyone?) playing through Goonies II, Super Mario 3, Skate or Die, Top Gun, T&C Surf Design and any other games we could talk our parents into buying or renting at the video store. The vast majority of those games contained amazing(ly cheesy) soundtracks that most of us can still sing (or are haunted by) today. I’m not just talking about the easy ones like Tetris and Super Mario. No, I mean the levels upon levels of Rygar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Castlevania and Duck Tales that are seared into the deep recesses of our brains, just waiting for the right insomniatic night or stuck in traffic too long dementia too pop up in. While those musical themes definitely still taunt and delight in equal measure, there’s something endearing about the synthy squiggles and lo-fi percussive beats of those 8-bit symphonies.
Don’t believe me? Well, you can either dust off the old NES (or come to my house where mine is still plugged in) or you can check 8-Bits, the new EP of 8-bit remixes from Sleeping At Last. It doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with the Wheaton, IL band or not, there is something uniquely cool about the concept of remixing (or is it demixing) some of your songs into retro-sounding arcade classics. For the EP, Sleeping At Last has combined four of their original songs with the 8-bit remixes of the same four songs (courtesy of Steven Padin and Mike Carroll of The Reign of Kindo) and even if this is your first experience with the band, it’s a great introduction. While the originals all have cool, relaxed alternative grooves and splashes of great melodic taste on their own, the remixes are worth the price of admission here. “Umbrellas” feels like an opening title sequence where the game logo descends from the top of the screen, “Currents” definitely has a standard first level, get to know your buttons feel, “Next To Me” has the bounce and energy of a congratulatory, upper level vibe and “Porcelain” feels like a saved the city or rescued the princess credit screen finale. All that’s missing is a sped up, running out of time, double time outro! So grab some no-name snacks, a cheap, 3-liter drink and enjoy both the classic nostalgia and snazzy modern sounds of Sleeping At Last’s 8-Bits.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t hanging with the plumbers and getting hooked on the Brothers, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack