Photos by Aaron Richter
The Artist & Their Latest Release: Sleigh Bells, Sleigh Bells (self-released CD-R, 2009)
The Showcase: Levi’s/FADER Fort, 3.20.10
The Set In Quite a Few Sentences (This Was One of SXSW’s Most Debated Acts, After All): Take it from someone who actually remembers Poison the Well‘s two classic metalcore albums, Tear From the Red and The Opposite of December: The fact that guitarist Derek E. Miller is getting more attention from the rugged beats and riffs on Sleigh Bell’s self-titled CD-R isn’t just surprising. It makes us want to clobber our credit rating at Guitar Center and start a blog-bound band of our own.
Not that we’d succeed without a born rock star like Alexis Krauss. Nothing against Miller’s minimal but muscular productions or anything, but Krauss–a schoolteacher-turned-feral frontwoman–is exactly why a bidding war led these Brooklynites right into the arms of M.I.A.’s Universal imprint, NEET. No doubt about it, the girl’s a natural at stalking the stage and stealing the attention of anyone within earshot. And with such anvil-like beats (“Infinity Guitars” and “Crown On the Ground” being two immediate standouts) behind her, Krauss is just what the industry ordered–a tat-dotted femme fatale who doesn’t hit notes so much as nail them.
Never mind the fact that Sleigh Bells basically sounds like a lot of shouting and pseudo singing over Fruity Loops and live guitar lashings. Or as our art director put it, “They recorded songs on a tape deck for fun and are making the best of it. The rest is out of their hands…What they’re essentially doing is Rick Rubin with shitty equipment.” TouchÃ©. Come to think of it, Rock the Bells sounds like a more fitting name here, doesn’t it?
By the way, how crazy is this–Sleigh Bells and Surfer Blood played a CMJ show together last fall? That shit would sell Terminal 5 out these days. Just saying…
And a Letter Grade: B- for the songs because they still need some work, but an A for Krauss’ spotlight-seizing stage presence