Sleigh Bells – Treats

So, I got an email over the weekend. An old friend asked me to listen to Sleigh Bells, with a caveat–“Don’t read anything about them before or while you’re listening to them.” So I didn’t. And now I’m listening to them.

Well, okay … about 8 songs in, I finally caved and wondered, “Who ARE these guys?!”

“These guys” are Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller. Miller was looking for a vocalist for his music project. Alexis’ mom actually recommended her while she was working in a diner in NYC. I bet Derek’s glad she did. They’re one of the hottest things hitting the music scene, and they’re doing it from pretty much out of nowhere. They’ve already played Coachella–before their first release hit the market (May 11th). That’s saying something.

Her voice is dynamic. At times, it’s breathy and child-like; other times, she belts it and lets you have it square in the face. Or ears, I guess. Heavy on the keyboards and distorted guitar, lots of bass that further distorts the other sounds. At times, it feels like the mixing was intentionally left unrefined. It doesn’t necessarily detract from the awesomeness of the overall sound, but there are some parts where it could have used a little touch-up.

It’s rare for a band like Sleigh Bells to surprise me like they have. At once  dance-style electronic, as the CD progresses, they branch out into more guitar-based songs (I’m listening to you, “Straight A’s”). Again, could be synthed keyboards, but … whatever. It sounds cool. I know this much–it has my attention, and I’m not much into … however you’d classify them. But these guys … whoa. Tommy likey.

At first brush, I’d say they’re kind of like Muse meets Chemical Brothers meets Cibo Mato. If you’re familiar with those bands, listen to this CD and tell me I’m wrong.

“Tell ’em”, the opening track, opens with some thundering bass and guitar mixed with keyboard and synth. I wasn’t ready for Allison’s voice. Keep in mind that I listened to this track before I did some poking around online. Can’t understand what she’s saying half the time, but there are moments when the lyrics are more clear than others.

The beginning of “Kids” sounds like the beginning of “Stinkfist” from Tool. Sort of. It kind of has that feel to it for about the first 5 seconds or so, after which you can hear some horn-type sounds. 

“Riot Rhythm” has a bit of a politcal message. “You gotta march!” At least, that’s what it sounds like. Maybe it’s “You gotta MARK!” I dunno.

“Infinity Guitars” actually has very little guitar work, and what there is actually sounds like a processed keyboard, and has precisely 4 chords. I think what they meant is that the song feels like it goes on for infinity, and every now and then there are some guitars.

Okay … I stand corrected. Big time. It heavies up at the 1:52 mark. A more accurate title would be “Infinite Bass with Some Guitar.” I bet that song sounds frickin’ hot on a high-end system.

Rill Rill has “single” written all over it. This could be a seriously great radio hit, if the band is interested in that aspect of marketing at all. Truthfully, the CD itself is enough of a marketing tool that “singles” are probably not necessary.

Truly, the treat of the CD is the last track, “Treats.” Think about the intro to the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” and beef it up with a lot more bass throughout the song, and mix in more keyboards and synth. I’m totally digging this song.

That’s all the more songs I’m going to review. I’ve already over-extended my normal quota of 3-4 songs per CD. If you want to know how great this CD is, get it. iTunes, Amazon … whichever. You will probably really dig this CD if  you like:

  • female vocalists
  • lots of bass
  • music to jump around to (yes, I ended with a preposition. so frickin’ what?)
  • out-of-nowhere song transitions
  • infectious, addictive songs

Just get this CD. Do it.

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