Sleigh Bells ring and they ring loudly. The NYC-based power duo comprised of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist/producer Derek E. Miller are seemingly a match made in heaven. Formed in 2008, Sleigh Bells have already managed to catch the attention of M.I.A., perform at the Coachella Festival and have the single, “Kids,” featured on MTV. Their debut record, 2010’s Treats, oozed with hard-hitting, primal bass and poppy, almost dreamy vocals (albeit a little too sugary sometimes). In turn, Sleigh Bells are igniting dance parties across the nation. Without a chance meeting in The Big Apple, Sleigh Bells would have never happened.
“Derek served my Mom and I when we were out to dinner in 2008 and we got to talking about music. To make a long story short, we engaged in a platonic email exchange and ended up meeting up a few days later,” Krauss explains. “Derek played me some demos he had been working on and I loved them. Shortly thereafter we started recording. We liked the results so we kept at it.”
Treats earned them the “noise-pop” label and they ran with it. It seems accurate. While Miller is comfortable playing aggressive guitar as loudly as possible, Krauss prefers peppering her wispy, pop-like vocals across each track lending them a kind of “bubble gum” feel. True, Krauss has the makings of a “pop star” (and the experience to prove it), but she seems more like a former cheerleader who put on a leather jacket then decided she was “punk.” Something just doesn’t seem right there. It’s as if she manifested some sort of a fabricated “edge.” Nonetheless, people are eating up what Sleigh Bells are dishing out- and they aren’t just the daft “hipster” idiots either. They’re the mainstream music fans, too.
“We love volume and are at the core a pop band so that label technically makes sense. It's a sensible thing for people to invent succinct genre titles in order to best categorize music. It doesn't bother us,” she explains. “Personally, we feel more comfortable describing our music for what it is: heavy, melodic, and rhythmic.”
Sleigh Bells’ sophomore album, Reign of Terror, slightly departs from their formulaic sound on Treats, but is immediately recognizable as a Sleigh Bells record. The guitar-driven anthems and ethereal vocals are still there, but Miller and Krauss seem to be experimenting a bit more with a fuller sound: more lyrics (other than “ah-a-ah-a-ah-ah-ah-ah-a”) and more intricate compositions.
Hopefully, they have polished their live show. On the Treats tour last year, the duo barely managed to push out a thirty-minute performance and the lights were so overwhelming, it’s surprising no one went into an epileptic seizure. Whatever the case, Sleigh Bells jingle their happy asses to Omaha this Saturday.
Sleigh Bells with Javelin and Elite Gymnastics, April 14, at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St., 8 p.m. Sold Out. Visit www.onepercentproductions.com for more information.