Music You May Have Missed

Music You May Have Missed

Brad Anglum

With him-and-her duos popping up out of the proverbial woodwork nowadays, one group transcends this played-out ploy by blowing out your speakers and annoying the hell out of you time and again. Sleigh Bells, the Brooklyn-based duo consisting of songwriter/guitarist Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss, released their long-awaited debut album, Treats, this past June to much-vaunted praise.

Sleigh Bells indulges every closeted whim you have of 80s hair, slashing guitar, George Clinton and that angst-ridden chick from Paramore, all warped together and turned up well past 11. The hype surrounding this duo all started when, arguably their best song, “Crown on the Ground” turned heads, along with a few other demos almost a year ago. Ever since they surfaced all over the internet, their popularity has grown feverously, at a fervor typically set aside for one lucky band a year, i.e. Vampire Weekend. Upon hearing Sleigh Bells, M.I.A. instantly gobbled up the group for her own label, N.E.E.T Recordings. Sleigh Bells felt the need to repay the favor by contributing their concluding song “Treats” to M.I.A.’s recent album Maya on the track “Meds and Feds.”

Their sound is instantly recognizable and outrageously unique, but what has become increasingly evident is the quintessential adjective that is thrown around regarding a description and that, is simply: loud. Critics, who are rarely faulted for a deficiency of adjectives, cannot seem to come up with a better description and they need not because they are freaking LOUD and when you hear the distortion on “Crown on the Ground” you will be dumbfounded by how, well, loud they really are. Turn the volume down and they are still loud. There is no escaping their sound so do not even bother trying, just do yourself the favor and blast it.

Bottom line is the whole album works and is a raging success. They stick to a very set formula of short, in-your-face catchy songs that are sure to satisfy and repulse at the same time. The album comes in at a brisk 32 minutes and “Crown On the Ground” is unquestionably the crowning achievement of their debut album with “Rill Rill” finishing in a close second. Sampling the 80s tune “Can You Get to That” by Funkadelic, “Rill Rill” is certainly the most musical song, if that makes sense, on the album. Songs like “Straight A’s” and “Tell `Em” deliver that unrelenting, heart thumping feeling which leaves you puzzled, yet pleased. With no songs over four minutes and most under three, the album fits our iPod generation’s need for instant gratification perfectly.

One benefit to seeing this group live is the sound systems that go along with their performance. Standing there, dwarfed by ten-foot towers, Miller’s production becomes ever more evident, something which cannot be comprehended on your Mac speakers and should not be tried. In fact, the album does not work as a whole if played with ear buds and will seem annoying and amateur if done so.

What is yet to be seen and is something that every group struggles with is the desperate need that society puts on bands to adapt and change sound with the times. Does Sleigh Bells have staying power? This is most definitely an unfair inquiry because they should still be on a post album high, touring their asses off but it is still something to consider in the future. While it is pure speculation and it may or may not be wishful thinking on my part, I see “Crown on the Ground” as a representation of where Sleigh Bells is at present, in all of their blasting guitar riff-age, while “Rill Rill” represents where they are going, something more musical and easier to listen to, while not relinquishing any of their original trademark distortion and bass.