Sleigh Bells–Beautiful, Ugly, Or Both?

Okay, I want to talk to about the track "Crown On the Ground" by Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells--it's got a sort of you-say-unlistenable-piece-of-noise, I-say-thrilling-juxtaposition-of-disparate-elements vibe going on that's totally had me by the nose lately.

The song starts with a screaming bent guitar note, played by producer-guitarist Derek Miller, which is quickly followed by the lurching and burping of an abrasive synthesizer. A cymbal crashes repeatedly. There's fuzz everywhere. Certain unidentifiable sounds remind me of the grinding screech that occurs when a piece of silverware gets caught in a garbage disposal. After the initial onslaught singer Alexis Krauss comes in with an airy, bubble-gum vocal melody that the rest of the music dares you to like. I can't remember the last time I've been so simultaneously put off and turned on by a song.

Because I had such a mixed reaction to the song (if listening to it fifteen times a day counts as "mixed"), I was curious to know what a couple of my best pals thought of it. One friend asked me if the distortion on the track was intentional. I told him it was. "Then I'd maybe like the song if they made it sound less like nails on a chalkboard," he replied.

My other friend said this: "It's rad."

Of course, mixing sour and sweet isn't exactly a new musical trick. Bands like the Jesus And Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine spent the better parts of their celebrated careers investigating the strangely appealing way that ugly and pretty sounds can rub up against each other. But holy moly, neither of those two bands utilized a teethgrinding drill sound quite like the one running through "Crown On the Ground"--which I've still got in heavy rotation. (FYI: The band's debut album, Treats, is due in mid-May on M.I.A.'s NEET label.)

I'm curious to know what you think of the song. Give it a listen on the band's MySpace page and then come back and share your comments. 

And don't say I didn't warn you.

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