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Friday, Dec. 24, 2010

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Sleigh Bells


By SHAUN CURRAN
Special to The Japan Times

Few bands defined 2010 like New York girl/boy noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells. Residing in uber-trendy Brooklyn, championed by both the blogosphere and M.I.A. (who signed the pair to her NEET label), and oozing the sort of elegantly wasted glamour they would sell by the truckload if they could bottle it, Sleigh Bells have been one of the year's underground sensations.

Debut album "Treats" spent the majority of 2010 sending critics into raptures, and with good reason. Adding irresistible pop hooks to heavy guitar noise and hip-hop beats, "Treats" is a joyous, boundary-pushing, mainstream-bound triumph.

But a quick history of Sleigh Bells has you wondering how it could possibly work. The formula is quite simple: Take one metalhead who used to front hardcore punk bands, introduce him to a self-confessed Britney Spears wannabe pop star — and let the chemistry flow.

Unlikely as it may seem, Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss took this route to stardom. Their backgrounds could scarcely have been more different. Miller started off playing Korn covers to his friends before forming the posthardcore underachievers Poison the Well. Krauss starred in a Nickelodeon TV commercial before becoming a member of unsuccessful teen-pop group Rubyblue. In a strange twist of fate, Miller waited on a table for Krauss and her mother during a period of musical inactivity, offhandedly mentioning he was looking for a female singer. Krauss' mother immediately put her forward, and one chance meeting later Sleigh Bells were born.

Using their differences as an advantage, their shared vision has come to fruition brilliantly. In many respects, it sounds exactly how you'd imagine such a collision of opposed ideologies to be; as heavy guitar riffs crunch and pummel their way into your brain relentlessly, sweet melodies simultaneously seep their way into your head.

In theory it should be horrible, but as Japan will soon discover, it is done with such conviction that any resistance is futile.

Sleigh Bells play Duo Music Exchange in Shibuya, Tokyo, on Jan. 10 (6 p.m.; ¥5,000). For more information, visit www.duomusicexchange.com or www.infinitybells.com.

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