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Archive for the ‘Sleigh Bells’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 30, 2019] Now, Now

The only band on this line up that I actually knew was Now, Now.

I loved their album Threads, a cool poppy shoegazey, guitar based album with chill vocals from Cacie Dalager and great music/beats from Bradley Hale.

Threads was the band’s second album and it features backing vocals and guitars from Jess Abbott.  Abbott left in 2017 to form one of my favorite new bands Tancred.

So, having loved Threads and Jess Abbott, I thought I should check out Now, Now live(a hard band to search online).

Well, something has happened to the band since Jess left.  They went from a shoegazey poppy guitar band to a synthy, very dancey band.

And apparently people love it! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 20, 2018] Sleigh Bells

I don’t go to too many shows at the PNC Bank Center.  I usually prefer smaller venues.  But I need to change that for bigger shows.  Here’s why PNC Bank Center is better than say BB&T Pavillion.

Free Parking.

There’s probably more reasons too (the sound was really great, it’s much closer to my house), but wow, that’s awesome.  So the next time an artist I want to see is making the rounds of outdoor arenas, I will make sure to get the PNC date instead of the Camden date.  It’s closer, too.

But I didn’t realize how much closer when I went to this show.  It was on a Friday night and I assumed there would be shore traffic.  So I left very early.  So early that I got there and actually heard the National Anthem.  I didn’t know they even did that.  But it was nice to sit and relax with a book while everyone else milled about.

I don’t know if other venues do this as well, but if a show has not sold well, on the night of the concert you can upgrade your lawn seats for pretty close seats.

I didn’t need to do that because I had amazing seats for this concert.

Sleigh Bells was formed in 2008 by Alexis Krauss and Derek Edward Miller.  They released their first songs in 2010 and I remember thinking that there was nothing else that sounded like them.  I was never entirely sure if I liked them, but they were unique.

They played catchy guitar riffs with poppy verses and choruses but the drums were so maxed out that they always sounded like they were going to break your speakers.  It was a fascinating mix of major pop and abrasive noise.  Some songs, like “Infinity Guitars” seemed to max everything to the red–the guitar riff, the drums even Krauss’ voice made the whole song sound like it was really loud, even if it wasn’t.  But it was really catchy at the same time.

At the time, Alexis had long straight black hair, sharp bangs and kind of a goth look, or at least a very dark look. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SLEIGH BELLS-Live at SXSW (2010).

Sleigh Bells were a very polarizing band last year.  Their album made many year end best of lists, but they were also hated by many music fans as well.  I fell somewhere in the middle.  They reminded me of The Go! Team, but without their quirky aspects.  Nevertheless, I found their songs to be a kind of industrial-lite, maybe a baby Ministry or something.  And that was interesting.

So I was intrigued by their live set which I downloaded from NPR’s All Songs Considered.  Their set is plagued by technical malfunctions.  And although they are the headliners (I guess, I don’t really know how SXSW works) their set barely ekes out to 25 minutes.  But they are very apologetic and seem to be nice enough folks.

They manage to play 6 songs (2 songs are beset with disaster–they restart “A/B Machines” but give up on the second to last song altogether and play a different one).  Their onstage dynamic was interesting (at first I thought they weren’t going to talk to the crowd at all, but once the machines broke, they were quite amiable).  I gather the whole band was Derek Miller playing guitar and all the samples and Alexis Krauss singing (she’s really out of breath when the song malfunctions, so she must be quite an energetic performer).  Their set impressed me enough to want to check out their CD for real (I only listened to one song when it made all those lists).

This is an interesting set, especially if you like to hear a band cope with technical difficulties.

[READ: March 28, 2011] “Fictional Houses”

This third piece in The Walrus’ 2005 Summer Reading issue is more of a photo essay than anything.  But the premise behind it is really great (and it is included in the Fiction section of the magazine).

The essay explains that in neighborhoods across Canada, hydro companies created electrical substations to handle power for those communities.  But rather than allow huge electrical monstrosities to reside in these communities, they corporations built full houses around them.  These houses were not simple facades but actual houses with electricity and which really gave the appearance of families living there (even though no one ever would).  That is an amazingly thoughtful thing for a huge corporation to do.

Now, since these stations are no longer needed, the houses are being sold off. Collyer made a point of travelling around to as many as were still extant to take pictures of them.  The pictures themselves don’t speak much because they are simply normal houses that blend in with the community.  But it’s amazing seeing the seven houses and seeing how very different they are.  The two in Toronto are quite lovely two-story houses.  Indeed the one on Spadina Road, with the trees grown in, is quite lovely (see below).  The houses in Scarborough are smaller affairs but are not too shabby either. (more…)

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[WATCHED: September 5, 2010] I’m Here

I’m Here is the new short film that Spike Jonze directed.  (You can read more about the story behind the film at my post about the accompanying book There Are Many Of Us.) And you can see the whole film and much more at the official site.

The film is 30 minutes long and it is surprisingly touching.  Surprisingly especially because the main characters are robots.  The robots are wonderfully designed (they’re not animated, they are people with plastic coverings and fantastic heads–the main male robot’s head is made from an old Macintosh computer).  I assume there is CGI for the mouths (they look too fluid to be anything else), but the rest of the movie is very old school.

As the film opens, we see Sheldon, who works in a library (as a shelver) who seems content and who seems to be making the best of things.  The other robots that we see live in what seems like a kind of narcotic state (plugging themselves in to recharge at night).  One morning, while he’s waiting for the bus (because robots can’t drive), he sees a robot driving a car.  She is a beautiful robot, and we see them share a moment across the busy street.  And since this is short film, you know they are destined to be together.

The robots share tender moments (their substitute for kissing is very sweet) as well as rocking moments (they go to a Lost Trees concert together).  We get to see a bit of their inner lives as well.  And the two form an intense bond.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Soundtrack to “I’m Here” (2010).

This soundtrack comes with the book mentioned above and below.  It is the soundtrack to the film “I’m Here” which also comes with the book mentioned above and below.

I haven’t watched the film yet, so I don’t know how well the music works.  But the book explains how many of these songs came to be in the film.  And the organic nature of the compositions sounds like they are very suitable.

The first track (and “theme” of the movie is by Aska & The Lost Trees.  The Lost Trees are a factious band made up for the film.  Aska wrote the song (and there’s sheet music for it in the book).  She has a second song called “Y.O.U.” later on the soundtrack.  It’s a synthy dreamy song.

Gui Borrato’s “Beautiful Life” is an 8 minute techno song.  It seems like an instrumental, but there are eventually lyrics.  And it is rather catchy.

Then there’s a number of bands who I have heard of but don’t know these songs: Sleigh Bells: “A/B Machines” (which is on their debut Treats–a loudly mixed, increasingly noisier and noisier dance track, which is strangely addictive); Animal Collective: “Did You See The Worlds” (which is on Feels and gets better with each listen); Girls: “Hellhole Ratrace” (which is on their debut Album and which sounds like a distortion-free Jesus and Mary Chain) and Of Montreal who remixed “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” from Hissing Fauna… so that The Lost Trees could “cover” it in the film.  I don’t know the original but this has punky abandon and distortion and rocks pretty hard.

The final two tracks are by Sam Spiegel: “Lonesome Robot Theme” and “There Are Many of Us (Electric Dream Reprise).”  They are both slow keyboard washes–delicate songs that close the disc nicely.

It’s an enjoyable soundtrack, a little heavy on the electronics–which makes sense for a movie  about robots, right?

[READ: September 2, 2010] There Are Many of Us

[UPDATE: September 6, 2010] Just watched the film….  Reading the book first will definitely lessen the emotional impact of the film.  So, be sure to watch the DVD, then read the  book.

This book came the other day in the mail as part of my McSweeney’s Book Club.  It’s funny to get a book that is a companion piece to a film you’ve never heard of and which you will likely never see.  And that’s why it’s great that the book includes the film on DVD!  (Along with several bonus features).

I really enjoy short films. And that’s why I like the Wholphin Series as well as the DVDs of Academy Award winning shorts.  I only wish there was more access to them.   I mean, frankly, where would I ever be able to see this film but here?

As I write this I haven’t had the chance to watch the film, so maybe it’s awful.  But I have liked everything that Spike Jonze has done, so I don’t expect to be disappointed.

The stills in the book are fantastic, and the robots look incredibly lifelike.  I’m not sure if it’s better to read the book or watch the film first.  The book doesn’t really give much away about the story (except that it says that the film is inspired by The Giving Tree).  And whether or not I should have watched the film first, the book has me really excited to watch the film soon. (more…)

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