Sleigh Bells (band)

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Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells @ Sir Stewart Bovell Park (3 1 2011) (5359139726).jpg
Sleigh Bells at Sir Stewart Bovell Park in March 2011
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Noise pop
Years active 2008–present
Labels Mom + Pop Music, N.E.E.T.
Associated acts Poison the Well, RubyBlue
Members Derek E. Miller
Alexis Krauss

Sleigh Bells is an American noise pop musical duo based in Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2008. The duo consists of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Edward Miller. After signing to N.E.E.T. Recordings and Mom+Pop,[1] Sleigh Bells released their debut album, Treats, on May 11, 2010. Their follow-up album, Reign of Terror, was released on February 21, 2012. On October 8, 2013, the band released their third album, Bitter Rivals.


Background and formation[edit]

Both members of Sleigh Bells had previous experience performing and touring in a musical ensemble. From age seventeen to twenty-two, Florida native Derek Miller was a guitarist in the hardcore band Poison the Well. He last performed on the band's 2003 major-label debut You Come Before You, leaving the following year due to creative differences. He wrote songs while working as a waiter or barback in various cities across the United States.[2][3] Alexis Krauss grew up in New Jersey and has a background in theater and television. As a young girl she appeared in a Nickelodeon Magazine commercial.[4] From age twelve to sixteen, Krauss performed in the teen pop group RubyBlue. After RubyBlue broke up, Krauss went to college (majoring in political science), taught Spanish to elementary school children in The Bronx and performed at weddings on the side for fun.[2][3]

In March 2008, Miller moved to Brooklyn to find a female vocalist for some song demos he was working on. In April 2008 he started working at Miss Favela—a Brazilian bistro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—and in July 2008, Krauss and her mother dined at the restaurant. Miller expressed his interest in finding a female vocalist for his new project and Krauss was immediately volunteered by her mother. The two met in a park and listened to Miller's demos through headphones.[2][3] In a 2012 interview, Krauss remembered her first impressions, saying: "Derek's music sounded like a really interesting challenge, but I wasn't thinking he was somebody I wanted to develop a creative relationship with."[2] Krauss was pursuing a Rhodes Scholarship at the time, but decided to join forces with Miller instead.[3]

2009: Sleigh Bells EP[edit]

The duo performed at the CMJ Music Marathon in October 2009.[5] They signed to M.I.A.'s N.E.E.T. Recordings soon after and Mom + Pop Records.[1] The two quickly got in the studio and recorded a seven-track self-titled EP. Their EP soon gained attention from The Guardian, The New York Times, Pitchfork Media, ABC News's Amplified, and other sources. Stereogum named them a Band To Watch October 22, 2009.[6] The Guardian named them Band of the Day in December 2009.[7] Their song "Crown on the Ground" was named the fifty-seventh best track of 2009 by Pitchfork Media.[8] Miller recorded the track "Meds and Feds" with M.I.A. from the album Maya towards the end of 2009, and began recording Treats with Krauss in 2010. "Rill Rill" uses a sample from Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That".

2010–11: Treats[edit]

The group released "Tell 'Em", the first single from their debut album, Treats, as a free download in April 2010.[9] Treats was released on May 11, 2010 exclusively through the iTunes Store by Mom + Pop Music.[10] They performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2010 and 2011,[11] the Primavera Sound Festival in May 2010,[12] and the Pitchfork Music Festival in July 2010.

2011-2012: Reign of Terror[edit]

Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells performing at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on May 4, 2012

Sleigh Bells began tracking songs for their second studio album in June 2011. Describing the sound of the new album, Krauss said, "It sounds really huge, so there's going to still be tons of volume."[13]

On December 2, 2011, the band's website began to link to a Vimeo video.[14] It served as a teaser trailer for the upcoming album, revealing the title to be Reign of Terror. There was no release date or any other information attached to the trailer. The trailer features scenes of Krauss sitting at a vanity mirror, grooming herself, interspersed with various backstage and live concert footage, as well as footage depicting the band's touring. During the duration of the video, a riff plays in the background and serves as the only sound. This has not been featured on any songs yet.[15]

On December 7, 2011, the band announced via press release both the date of the album's release and the track listing. The band's publicist said of the upcoming release, "[The album features] songs that are as crushing and authoritative as their title suggests; they're effortlessly robust and heavier than any of the band's previous output ... the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head."[16] The album's promotional single, "Born to Lose", was released on December 15, 2011. In an interview with webzine Coup De Main, Krauss was quoted as saying that Reign of Terror is "a much more personal record".[17]

The album was originally set to be released on February 14, 2012, but was pushed back to February 21.[18]

Along with the announcement of the release date and track listing, Sleigh Bells also announced a tour of strictly Floridian venues.[19] This tour preceded the release of the album.

Sleigh Bells were the musical guest on the February 18, 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, performing the songs "Comeback Kid" and "End of the Line".

In October 2012 Sleigh Bells kicked off their North American Tour with Araabmuzik at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.[20]

2013: Bitter Rivals[edit]

Only a few months after the release of Reign of Terror, Sleigh Bells began writing a third studio album for a possible 2013 release.[21][22] Before the end of 2012, the album was said to feature more writing from Krauss and with a cleaner sound.[23] The new album, titled Bitter Rivals, was released on October 8, 2013 through Mom + Pop Music. The album was partially inspired by the music of Janet Jackson.[24][25] According to Krauss, several tracks would feature dynamic acoustic riffs and R&B-ish vocals. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Krauss clarified the new style of the album, saying, "I was interested in doing something Beyoncé or Janet Jackson would do, these slow-winding, sparkling melodies." [26] A music video directed by Sleigh Bells for the album's title track, "Bitter Rivals," was released in September 2013. The band toured North America in October/November 2013 in support of Bitter Rivals with Doldrums and Danny Brown as support.[27]

Musical style[edit]

The band's music has been known for its juxtaposition of simple pop hooks with loud, rhythmic noise, electronic beats, harsh guitar riffs and dreamy vocals, which has been described mainly as "noise pop".[28][29][30][31][32][33][34] The band's music also has been described as noise rock,[32] indie rock,[34] dance-punk,[35] synthpunk,[36] digital hardcore,[37] experimental pop,[28] alternative rock,[38] and industrial rock.[39] While their debut album, Treats, was noted for its punk and heavy metal guitars, glam metal influences and mid-tempo beats from hip hop and electro, their second album, Reign of Terror, was also described as a mixture of "heavy metal shredding with R&B vocals".[40][41][42]

Use in other media[edit]

The track "Comeback Kid" was featured in the sixteenth episode of The Secret Circle. The track "Rill Rill" was featured on the fourth episode of the fourth season of Gossip Girl, titled "Touch of Eva".[43] The song "Kids" off of the album Treats was used in an advert for Koppaberg, a promo for MTV's North American adaption of the British series Skins and in the trailer for the 2011 action film Abduction. Music videos were shot for the songs "Infinity Guitars" and "Rill Rill". "Infinity Guitars" was used in the television shows Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and Girls,[44][45] as well as in commercials for Windows Phone.[46] The song "Kids" is featured in the preview for the film Pain & Gain.[47] Their song "Crown on the Ground" was featured in a commercial for Dr Pepper[48] and the trailer for the film The Bling Ring.[49]

The song "Riot Rhythm" from Treats was used in Season 3, Episode 5 of The Good Wife ("Marthas and Caitlins", Oct. 23, 2011).[50]

In 2012, Sleigh Bells appeared in the film Premium Rush, where they performed live the song "Crown on the Ground".[51]

Treats song "Crown on the Ground" appeared in the trailer for Sofia Coppola's 2013 crime film The Bling Ring, as well as being the opening song of the film.[52]

The song "Infinity Guitars" was used in the opening credits for the movie Bachelorette with Kirsten Dunst and Lizzy Caplan.

The song "Rill, Rill" was used in the closing credits to the 2012 skate video Pretty Sweet.[53]

In September 2013 the song "Rill, Rill" was used in Apple's iPhone 5C ad.[54]

In 2011 the song "Riot Rhythm" was used in a popular video game, Saints Row: The Third

In 2012 the song "Riot Rhythm" was used in the soundtrack for the PS3 and Xbox 360 game Lollipop Chainsaw.

In 2012, the song "Riot Rhythm" was used by Nokia to introduce the Nokia Lumia 610. [55]

The Song "Born to Lose" was mentioned in Uncanny X-Force #3

The song "Tell 'Em" was featured in X-games commercial and Saturday Night College Football


  • Derek E. Miller – guitar, production (2008–present)
  • Alexis Krauss – vocals (2008–present)
Touring members


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Treats 39 81 152
Reign of Terror
  • Released: February 21, 2012
  • Label: Mom + Pop Music
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
12 33 35 64 48
Bitter Rivals
  • Released: October 8, 2013
  • Label: Mom + Pop Music
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
49 158
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details
Sleigh Bells
  • Released: December 6, 2009
  • Label: Self-released


Title Year Album
"Tell 'Em" 2010 Treats
"Infinity Guitars"
"Riot Rhythm" 2011
"Comeback Kid" 2012 Reign of Terror
"Bitter Rivals" 2013 Bitter Rivals

Music videos[edit]

Title Year Director(s)
"Infinity Guitars" 2010 Phil Pinto[63]
"Riot Rhythm" Bo Mirosseni[64]
"Rill Rill" 2011 Jon Watts[65]
"Comeback Kid" 2012 Derek Miller and Gregory Kohn[66][67][68]
"End of the Line"
"Bitter Rivals" 2013 Sleigh Bells[27]


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External links[edit]