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  • Sleigh Bells @ Santos Party House, NYC 10/21/09 2
Tags: / Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford
Sleigh Bells

After this week, it’ll seem like Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss have come out of nowhere to form the outfit on everyone’s CMJ breakout list. But there are roots, dug deep and spread far: Past members of Sleigh Bells went on to form buzz-band Surfer Blood. Derek’s old hardcore band Poison The Well toured with Give Up The Ghost, the defunct hardcore outfit of past BTW Cold Cave’s Wes Eisold. Alexis Krauss is a school teacher with a pop-singer past. All of which gives certain strength to their reinvention in this excellent new outfit.

It bears mentioning that Derek lived (and recorded most of these demos) down the hall from one of our apartments, and that his tracks were passed to us by hand some months ago — a true bedroom project. In that form the songs showed jagged promise, but after seeing them fleshed out and flooring the Hype Machine party at Santos yesterday, they’re no longer an “if” but “when.” In part because the rough edges of those demos’ combustible pop are now more finely razed, in part because of Alexis Krauss’s outsized yet totally natural stage presence.

Sleigh Bells are just a duo — Derek on beat production, guitars, and songwriting; Alexis Krauss on vocals — but their tracks ram together many sonic worlds. Their electronic beats thud with gut-rattling low end; guitars are distorted siren squalls (“A/B Machines”), or heavily gated and thoroughly crunched power chords (“Infinity Guitars”), or playful, beach bum strums (the Beta Band-y “Ring Ring”). Krauss flips easily from hip-hop hook sass (“Beach Girls”), to pop power to sunshined, coquettish coos. The demos that are floating around are all getting re-recorded soon, but you should have a few to get familiar:

Next up for Sleigh Bells: re-recording all of this stuff, and lots more. Until then, hear “A/B Machines” and “Infinity Guitars” at MySpace. And if you’re at CMJ, don’t miss their set at Market Hotel on Friday night with the former Bells of Surfer Blood.

Here’s some vid to give you a sense, from the duo’s set at Le Poisson Rouge last month:

[Photos by Kyle Dean Reinford at Santos Party House 10/21/09.]

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Comments (80)
  1. I remember seeing Poison the Well on accident at a particular punk festival hosted by a particular skate shoe company when I was a particular pubescent boy, (look, at least I saw Andrew W.K. there…) I really hated it.

    To hear this, and know it’s coming from the same mind, creates a level of cognitive dissonance. But this is really, really, really good. Thank you, Stereogum, for melting away some bad memories of middle school concerts away. Fuck any inevitable discussions about credibility. Sleigh Bells is fantastic.

    • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 0

      I endured a Poison the Well concert as well in my hayday. I have no idea why but it was bad. Also, let’s remember Give Up the Ghost for who they original were: American Nightmare.

    • I think Poison the Well’s significance isn’t really appreciable by today’s standards of hardcore/scream-o music. They were some of the first to sound like a ‘scream-o/hardcore’ band. That style seemed very in vogue from 2000-2003; they were definitely at the forefront of that fad. Take my opinion with a grain of salt…I’m a former Poison the Well fan who just now went back and listened to the track I used to think was so edgy and creative, “Nerdy” and totally ruled out defending them on a basis of technical accomplishment, hah. It was cool at the time! Timing is everything.

  2. Chris  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 0

    Is it me or is the intro in Ring Ring dubbed from Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That?”?

    • Matt  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 +1

      Yeah, the whole song is just that Funkadelic riff with some random singing slapped on. I don’t have a problem with sampling but this is the laziest songwriting ever.

  3. Lauren  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 0

    Sleigh Bells have been smoking hot for months. Way to catch up, Sterogum.

  4. Not bad but not great. Although they have caught my attention now.

  5. some angry guy  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 0

    You posers.

  6. Paul's Boutique  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2009 0

    The name of the song is “Can you get to That”…thanks George…

  7. kao  |   Posted on Oct 23rd, 2009 0

    The artist name next to “Ring Ring” should be Funkadelic (featuring a bass drum and a vocal that’s still not very different from the original).

    • i’m pretty sure ring ring is just a song they made for fun, considering they have no legitimate releases, and also considering every other song they have sounds nothing like ring ring.

  8. rex ry  |   Posted on Oct 23rd, 2009 0

    that Friday night Market Hotel show is gonna be awesome! French Miami’s there too

  9. jbean  |   Posted on Oct 23rd, 2009 +1

    nice vag pants!

  10. Derek Miller is clearly too legit to quit. Krauss’ vocal execution is a driving force, but the most remarkable aspect of this band is Derek’s complete construction of these tracks; they are infectious, witty, and shrewdly timed. Sleigh Bells ooze with style.

    • stereodrivvle  |   Posted on Oct 26th, 2009 0

      “Sleigh Bells ooze with style”…you ooze with bullshit. get a clue.
      oh my bad, you’re their publicist…

  11. All the Woo in the World  |   Posted on Oct 23rd, 2009 0

    Are you joking?

    I hear half-assed songwriting, a half-assed MIA clone on vocals, and instrumentation that bridges karaoke with a Casio keyboard demo.

  12. I agree with the “Are you joking?” comment. Are you joking? Infectious and witty? What are you on? The compositions are half-assed ramblings. The vocals are cliche and weak.

  13. Goddamn, guys. Really? Poison the Well’s past three albums are better than this garbage. Yes, it’s catchy, but there’s nothing about it that will keep the attention of hipsters for more than three months (even less time for the non hipster crowd). I’m making a prediction now: Their debut will lose all of its charm after the lo-fi veil is lifted and everyone else realizes how fucking bad this band is.

  14. Hieronymus  |   Posted on Oct 25th, 2009 0

    This is some annoying shit. I’ll stand by that, even if they mysteriously pull an MGMT. And the comments of other naysayers here.

  15. kbiz  |   Posted on Oct 26th, 2009 0

    Three months is longer than a lot of bands keep my attention.

  16. I really like everything I’ve heard from Sleigh Bells so far. Yes, they are catchy…and some may argue – not much substance. I also agree with most of Jacob’s comments (except about Poison the Well because I’ve never heard their music). Maybe Sleigh Bells re-record their stuff and lose that lo-fi sound. Maybe they record an even better album that 90% of the world likes. All I know is that in the past 10 months only one other band has caught my attention like Sleigh Bells. I have to agree most with kbiz – “Three months is longer than a lot of bands keep my attention.”

  17. “hip-hop hook sass???” Are you F-ING KIDDING ME?!?!? This shit is HORRIBLE!!! Someone please tell me this is an elaborate joke. There is no style in this at all. it sounds like two wanna-be’s trying really fucking hard to sound like they don’t care. Good luck guys! Hope you get that american apparrel ad your pulling for!!!

  18. rv  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2009 0

    seems like nothing new…
    I liked the Discovery album better

  19. alvysinger  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2009 0

    Can you really just copy “Can You Get to That?” like that? Is this a joke? I’m confused…

  20. These are by far the worst MP3s I’ve ever downloaded from this site.

  21. John Paul Pitts  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2009 0

    HELL YEA!!!!!

  22. ccsabathia  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2009 0

    fuck longevity, fuck originality, fuck cliches, fuck posers, fuck “can you get to that”: every song this band puts out is a party

  23. ummm  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2009 0

    Dude, I’m so happy that Len finally got back together!

    By the way, I LOVE everyone pretending that they didn’t buy that one Poison The Well record at Hot Topic when they were 17.

  24. Did the world really need Williamsburg’s answer to The Ting Tings?

    I thought not…

  25. Lord Ruler  |   Posted on Oct 29th, 2009 0

    Pitchfork just crowned this shit “Best New Music.” It’s over.

  26. Justin  |   Posted on Oct 30th, 2009 0

    I knew this song sounded familiar – This song is Boys dont cry by the cure!

  27. Joe R  |   Posted on Oct 31st, 2009 0

    Drives mi nuts to throat! This is living!

  28. I just kinda like the idea of this chick teaching elementary school kids by day.

  29. chris  |   Posted on Nov 2nd, 2009 0

    I don’t know about thier other songs but crown on the ground makes me want to go batsh^*t crazy. In an awesome way.

  30. Pussy  |   Posted on Jan 18th, 2010 -1

    I love the fervor with which next decade haters attack shit. This is “2″ dudes, writing undeniable party bangers . Not trying to be the next U2. Let’s call the kettle black. If you weren’t so busy complaining, you would be on the floor beside us, accepting these party treats with cheer.

    Sleigh Bells. Boom


  31. this is by far the worst band to get internoot hype this year.

  32. Kickass songs.
    The pre-distortion is kinda funny, like the sound equivalent of jeans that come already worn.

  33. Is this a joke, Stereogum? Are we suppose to buy into this Sleigh Bell hype. How clever! They looped the first 10 seconds of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” and poorly sang over it. Ring Ring is nothing more than destroying a great song. What’s next? Should we all listen to Shooby Taylor now?

  34. Sorry, no really clever or bombastic insults from me. But I see some really amazing examples above. Bravo, Internet. You’ve come a long way, baby.

    Anyway, I like it. It makes you want to move your head to the beat. I like the post-90s melding of music forms. Hip-hop and rap still are out there evolving in their pure forms, but hip-hop gets along with rock and jazz and all its other art and music cousins just fine. It’s the fans that are still catching up. But we will, I think. If the artists keep reaching for the bar, we’ll keep showing up. I like the different way Sleigh Bells goes about it. I wasn’t an immediate fan but I heard some of their mellower live stuff and I was sold. I’d like to see what comes next.

  35. I had the misfortune of seeing this “band to watch” open for Yeasayer a couple nights ago. Probably the most annoying band I have heard/seen in years. Buddys guitar riffs are super lame and the chicks lyrics are cliche. Also all she does is sings the same thing the guitar or synth is playing.

    Throw an unatractive girl in replace of this girl and I guarantee there is NO HYPE for this band. Yeah I said it.

  36. What am i listening to ?

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