Band To Watch

Band To Watch: Sleigh Bells

Amrit Singh | October 22, 2009 - 12:13 pm

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:

Sleigh Bells – “Ring Ring” (MP3)
Sleigh Bells – “Crown On The Ground” (MP3)
Sleigh Bells – “Beach Girls” (MP3)
Sleigh Bells – “Infinity Guitars” (MP3)

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.]