Sindrome “Pop Polaroid”

French synth wave artist Alex Sindrome is an enigma. Dressed in black with full face make-up (almost kabuki here), he released a few albums on his own, but never appears on stage. A ghostly figure walking in a dead city at night, hiding from human non-sense, and reporting it through his lyrics and songs.
Synth bass, clap snares and disilusionned lyrics in French are his trademark, you can find this again on “Pop Polaroid” as soon as “Accident” starts, just before “Messe Noire” takes us into a gloomy film noir haze, and”Coeur Usiné Machine”, “On Restera des Imbéciles”, and “Marée Lasse” bring us straight back to the French 80s, reminding me of all the best obscure cold wave bands from those days. Nevertheless, Sindrome‘s world is not limited to synth and digital love, his musical and visual references also include Michel Polnareff and 80s glam metal.
Songs like “Tout est Annulé” or “Inflammable” have a bit of early DEPECHE MODE in them, and dark dancefloor hit “Réservation de Nuit” will keep you awake all night while guitar (By FROZEN DEAD KITTENS‘ Greg Bergen) driven song “Autolyse” should be Billy Idol‘s fans own personal favourite.
Sindrome‘s Frenchness can be heard in his dark, urban, postmodern poetry, and also in a song like “Le Premier Vol Pour Mars”, which sounds a bit like a synthetic version of new wave band INDOCHINE.
If you have to listen to one track before listening to the full album, then start with “Zombies”, one of the greatest songs on here with “Des Nuits Blanches en Apnée”, it will sure stick to your brains!
You’ll find 17 songs on this album, enough to make you go deep down into Alex Sindrome‘s universe. Dark, of course, but also pop, danceable, and highly addictive. /Laurent C.

Claudio Simonetti “Demons” Original Soundtrack

30th anniversary of one of my favourite horror movies, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava‘s Demons! I still remember watching it on VHS on wednesday afternoons… Claudio Simonetti‘s original soundtrack definitely reinforced the movie’s dark and unique atmosphere of the movie, with blood-stained 80s synthpop tracks like “Demons”, “Out Of Time”, or “Killing”, and frightening themes like “Cruel Demon”, “The Evil One”, or “Threat.”
This release also includes demo versions and a previously unreleased track, “Demon’s Lounge”, and the CD version also includes remixes by OHGR, LEAETHER STRIP and a few others, but the coloured vinyl is limited to 666 copies and includes a poster!
This anniversary release would have been complete with the addition of the songs of bands like MÖTLEY CRÜE, BILLY IDOL, or ACCEPT you can hear in the movie, but copyrights probably prevented them to appear on the record. Anyway, this just made me want to watch Demons again!/Laurent C.


Velvet Condom “Vanity & Revolt”

vanity-and-revoltThe Berlin-based French synth pop duo has been around for 8 years already, and have released 2 albums, 1 EP as well as a few songs for various compilations. Thus, Rustblade records has rightfully decided to release this “best-of” compilation (the limited box also includes a DVD with some videos and live footage.)
While duos were really popular until a few years ago, it seems like the trend has been fading out a bit lately, but the best ones remain, and VELVET CONDOM is definitely one of them. Their mix of synthpop and post-punk with glammy vocals has always managed to evolve through the years… Starting as a minimalistic neue deutsche welle influenced duo, they then developped their style to get closer to 80s French coldwave, and finally included little by little more noisy (almost shoegaze) guitars on their last album “Stadtgeil”, a fine mix of dirty pop and weird wave in their own words.
So, whether you like to dance to 80s drum machine/synth beats (“Never Ever”, “Kalter “Lippenstift”), enjoy more dreamy-sexy atmospheres such as “Collapse In Slow Motion”, “Rouge City” or “Menace”, or 90s noisy guitars mixed to fine melodies (“Separ-Hate”) you’ll find what you need among these 19 songs. Add the creepy post-punk blues “Silky Lolita” and and the dark and catchy “Self Injury”, and you’ll get the perfect VELVET CONDOM compilation. Influences from a band like The CURE are also obvious on early songs such as “Trash Vaudeville” and “Poison & Maquillage”. Among the few rarities that have been added, 70s glam fans will also enjoy the amazing version of BRIAN ENO’s “Driving Me Backwards” that closes the record.
Icing on the cake, “Vanity & Revolt” is a great title and the cover art looks really good. Come on and feel the Velvet touch!/Laurent C.

Todd Is New Each Moment “A Thousand Nights” EP

TODD IS NEW EACH MOMENT is an 80s influenced synth pop duo from New York that probably listened to a lot of “Neue Deutsche Welle”. Vintage drum machines and keyboards mixed to post-punk/new wave guitars and poppy shadowy vocals is what you can expect here. SUICIDE, NEW ORDER or SOFT CELL fans will probably enjoy this 4 song EP too. Opening track “A Thousand Nights” is a kind of electronica meets DEVO song while “Traps” is a very good 80s danceable tune and “Flooded Highways” is more experimental, almost psychedelic at times but still catchy enough, reminding a bit of the fantastic “Goodbye Horses” (Q LAZZARUS) in the chorus.”Uneasy Dreams” is the song that probably combines the different aspects of the duo’s music the best.
This scene has been quite crowded these last years but TODD IS NEW EACH MOMENT should be able to stand out next to Berlin Frenchies VELVET CONDOM for instance./Laurent C.

Velvet Condom “Safe & Elegant” (2008)

While most French electro bands just take the easy DAFT PUNK way turning into DJs who do nothing but play their own music on CDs at shows, you’ll still find some more underground minimalistic acts that have more in common with German robotic genre originators KRAFTWERK. VELVET CONDOM (I know, you have to get used to the name!) is one of them, adding electric guitars and a noisy rock touch to their 80s synth driven pop. The vocals may sound familiar to some of you Veglam readers since Alice Von Glass is actually Alyss in Sparkling Bombs. As you would think that the digital duo is just one more 80s revivalist with opening track “Never Ever” (one of their best songs this being said), you will quickly change your mind after “Teenage Innocence” reminding more of experimental early 90s pop/shoegazing (a musical style that can be boring on the long run but also interesting when used thriftily like they do) and bands like MY BLOODY VALENTINE. “Talented Boy”, “Spiritualized” or “Self Injury” are closer to 80s new wave such as The CURE or NEW ORDER but the duo borrows from the style without falling into kitsch or cheap imitation like it has been happening too many times these last years. VELVET CONDOM also has a tendency to experiment with styles and is not afraid to give into the difficult electro ballad genre with songs like “My Own Tragic Escape” and its DEPECHE MODE/AIR references or “Seduce And Kill Her”. The darkest side of VELVET CONDOM can be found in tracks like “Numbed” (one of my personal favourites on here) and its SUICIDE-like synthetic rock’n’roll bass or in the creepy incestuous “Silky Lolita” and its bluesy guitar mixed to mechanical drum machine beats. As you probably have guessed by now, VELVET CONDOM is not your typical 80s revival party electro band dressed up in flashy colours and I won’t complain about it since they managed to mix the danceable pop elements of the genre to darker experimental ones ingeniously on this first album. Elegant for sure, but probably not as safe as the album title suggests./Laurent C.

Sohodolls “Ribbed Music For The Numb Generation”

A band with such a great name can’t be wrong, can they?… Just a quick look at the photos and you’ll see a coherent glamourous unit consisting of a gorgeous female singer (Maya Von Doll) and male musicians (Toni Sailor, Weston Doll, Matt Lord and Paul Stone) with a great sense of style reminding me of 80s HANOI ROCKS. They definitely can’t be wrong! Beware though, all of this doesn’t mean that SOHODOLLS are a British glam punk rock’n’roll band. Well, yes they are British but you’ll get the idea as soon as opening song “Stripper” starts, a modern keyboard driven glam rock song sounding like an unexpected, sparkling mix of T-REX and GOLDFRAPP. If you like the best of MARILYN MANSON (from “Mechanical Animals” of course) or KYLIE MINOGUE’s new single “2 Hearts”, then there are big chances that you will love this as well. While “Prince Harry” sounds like a big dancefloor party between PEACHES, BLONDIE and LADYTRON, “My Vampire” takes the listener to a slightly darker side of the band and singles such as “Right and Right Again”, “Trash The Rental” or the fantastic “Bang Bang Bang Bang” won’t leave your mind after listening to them only once!… While most of today’s bands take the easy way and mix 80s synth to rock without any originality or identity, the SOHODOLLS aren’t afraid to experiment with more original influences like in “I’m Not Cool” in which they amazingly incorporated a bit of New Orleans jazz. This is not on the album but I can’t resist telling you that as a Christmas present, the DOLLS have recorded their own version of HANOI ROCKS’ “Dead By Christmas”, watch it here! This band has the image, the songs and managed to build their own universe in a country where the so-called indie scene has been giving birth to clones for too long now. I’ve yielded to the “Pleasures Of Soho” and I can tell you that this is nothing but the best electro glam of the year to me!/Laurent C.