Music | Shake It: Polaroid Kiss win friends with synth-y bleeps and boops but, so far, no label-maker. 

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In less than one year, Salt Lake City’s Polaroid Kiss has accomplished things that might cause musicians in more metropolitan cities to shake their fists in the air. How, they must be asking, does a band with no formal public-relations or marketing team and who’ve scarcely played out or even recorded a full-length album accumulate 26,000-plus MySpace friends? How do they receive international airplay and acclaim for their one single and receive requests to perform live with established European-based artists including Chris Corner, aka IAMX, formerly of Sneaker Pimps?

Polaroid Kiss guitarist Tim Burgess—the most recent addition to the quartet—shrugs and, with a slight smile, replies “I think people are getting sick of traditional guitar-driven bands. That’s been done so much in the past few years. They want something new.”

Or retro.

If the runaway success of Polaroid Kiss is any indication, synthesizer-driven bands are making a big comeback. Of course, that’s discounting those who never ever stopped loving electronic bands.

Producer, songwriter and jack-of-all-instruments Brandun Reed says that Polaroid Kiss has received a great deal of attention in Europe, especially in Manchester and Berlin.

“Germans love synth. The old joke is, when America had Kiss, Germany had Kraftwerk,” co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Earl Dixon says.

Reed and Georgia-born vocalist Tom Bennett founded Polaroid Kiss in December 2006 following a lively conversation about their divergent musical tastes at a local dance club. Reed and Bennett are both DJs who adore electronic music, but the bulk of Bennett’s vocal experience—true to his Southern roots—has been fronting folk, acoustic and indie acts including Salt Lake City trio O Discordia, a far cry from the abrasive post-punk music that Reed generally enjoys.

Reed and Bennett wanted to produce highly danceable music that begged for multiple rotations at the club. Intelligent, catchy lyrics were also a must. Reed eventually invited Dixon—who has been friends with Reed since the fifth grade—and Burgess to join Polaroid Kiss to ensure a fuller, more developed sound.

Reed and Bennett’s vision is finally starting to come together. Their first single, the moody-yet-infectious Faint, New Order and Nine Inch Nails-influenced “White Lines and White Lies,” has fared well online and in several local clubs where it’s often blasted on repeat. Reed notes that he has even witnessed several people singing along as they dance.

“We’ve really taken our time,” Reed says. “Although we had a lot of ideas from the beginning, we didn’t rush into the recording studio or start booking shows immediately. We made an effort to put a lot of thought into what we’re doing.”

Bennett says Polaroid Kiss is in the process of recording a full-length debut with (fingers crossed) Kelli Ali—another former member of Sneaker Pimps—as guest vocalist. “Her management contacted us because they liked our sound,” Reed says.

Word of mouth still hasn’t landed Polaroid Kiss a proper label, though, and they’re on the hunt for a home. “I’ve always been happy to work really hard and do things myself. I’ve always made my own merchandise, for instance,” says Bennett, who has fronted bands since age 15. “But it does get really exhausting, and it would be nice to eventually have someone to help us with that.”

Reed says Polaroid Kiss’ first major live performance will include a carefully choreographed light show and several other flourishes. “Even though our music is very danceable, I want to make sure we put on a really good performance. Sometimes electronic music isn’t the most exciting thing to see live. We want to make our shows very enjoyable for the audience.”

POLAROID KISS w/IAMX @ The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Saturday Oct. 27, 10 p.m.

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Jenny Poplar

Jenny Poplar is both a dancer and a frequent City Weekly contributor.

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