Sleigh Bells, CSS Warehouse Live April 24, 2011
See more photos in our slideshow.
The concept of loud music is in Aftermath's blood. From the sweet-ass two-page Van Halen mural our Uncle Kelly drew inside his junior high yearbook in 1984, the blown-out speakers in our first car from too much bad punk rock, to the constant ringing in our two ear cavities that we go to bed with like a live-in lover, spooning the annoying din.
So when a band like Sleigh Bells comes along, one that flaunts noise and crunch like a new pair of sprayed-on leggings and a dreamcatcher necklace, we tilt our head like a puppy hearing a dog whistle. You want to feel smug about it, pshaw and say "I'll tell you what noise is..." but Sleigh Bells are completely redefining what you can accomplish with loudness, in terms of making it tuneful.
Just listen to "Rill Rill" or "Run The Heart" from last year's Treats. That's some girl-group jazz.
Sleigh Bells are what pop is in 2011. Over-compressed, aggressively catchy, huge drums, with beats that scream "metal" but with vocals from raving tattooed brunette Alexis Krauss that coo like some unknown French chanteuse in 1967. There's no Robo-Britney here.
Canada's Crystal Castles are doing the same thing, but they could give a fuck about pop hooks, which the Bells have in the trillions, preferring to cake their sound with muddy Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails skronk.
Going into Sunday night's Warehouse Live gig, that was the only parallel we could draw: A bigger-budget, sunnier, Crystal Castles with a great beat you can shop to. You will soon read further to see that that opinion won't change much, but what will change will be the important stuff that goes into liking a band.
As for CSS, that's a party band from the clubs of Sao Paulo, Brazil who is currently doing touring run-up to their brand-new La Liberacion coming in late summer. They are still largely riding high on a legend from 2006, full of love for that year's self-titled debut.
CSS helped sell a few iPods with the help of the infectious grooves coming off lead singer Lovefoxxx, a tiny girl doing her best Poly Styrene. "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex" will never, ever die.
Here goes the Twitter feed...
Watching CSS by the soundboard. Already playing "Off The Hook" two songs in.
Lovefoxxx has already jumped into the pit.
Nice faux-hawk, 15% Of The Crowd.
Oh, she's supposed to be Poly Styrene, huh? Oh Generation Y, up yours.
Kids all tuckered out in studio space. Pay $30 to sleep on a sticky couch. Sounds right.
Waiting for Sleigh Bells. Will the hype machine take a shit and die? We'll see.
At least they are playing "Goodbye Horses" to warm up. Have you ever seen that crazy YouTube video of that muscular unicorn strutting to that song?
Sleigh Bells is on....now.
Metal horns? Just because it's loud and they are playing glitchy black metal, don't mean you gotta make Dio shake his fist from his spot next to Euronymous in heaven. Yeah, they both made it.
"Iron Man" intro. OK, I'm on-board. That was fast and predictable.
Alright. You win, loud noises.
Loud as all fuck. Still getting a Crystal Castles thang though. Nagging.
Heavy, watered-down industrial vibe. Threshing pop and distorting it like Silly Putty. Do kids still have Silly Putty?
Damn, even "Crown On The Ground" has an insane pop
OK, Atari Teenage Riot with cute girl vocals? Digging this but don't know why. Primal maybe? Which is a good thing always. Sleight Bells much better live than on record. This makes their Treats seem like a shitty cassingle.
"Skinny Puppy," says our friend Willow. We do like the construct of this though. "Infinity Guitars" is happening to us right now.
"Rill Rill" has a total "Lola" Kinks beat attached to it. The world was not ready for this five years ago. This would have made ears bleed. Sleigh Bells opening for Death From Above 1979 in an arena right now would be a bit of nice. Someone get on that.
This is what pop is now.
And we want to believe all eight of those Marshalls onstage are all real and very much in use. Like a kid on Christmas.
Crazy aria shit going on from Krauss. Coupled with her Sleigh Bells Chicago Bulls jersey, and it's goddamned adorable.
The fun thing is seeing people leave because of the loudness. Was the record not complicit about this being a high-volume band in person?
And we're done after about forty minutes. Only one album, dudes.
(We left once the house lights came on and venue music began playing, and we missed this...)
Via @Nathan_Nix on Twitter
"In case u left to write, she apologized for not having more songs, and crowd coaxed her into a cappella Run the Heart. Highlight."
Personal Bias: Take it away, Brick Tamland!
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The Crowd: A veritable indie-rock catalog: What's His Name and That One Girl you are afraid to add on Facebook.
Overheard In the Crowd: "My ears!"
Random Notebook Dump: You win, hype-machine.