Sleigh Bells (band)

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Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells @ Sir Stewart Bovell Park (3 1 2011) (5359139726).jpg
Sleigh Bells performing at the Southbound festival in March 2011
Background information
OriginBrooklyn, New York, US
GenresNoise pop
Years active2008–present
Associated acts

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 Music, Sleigh Bells released their debut album, Treats, in May 2010. Their follow-up album, Reign of Terror, was released in February 2012. In October 2013, the band released their third album, Bitter Rivals while their fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, was released in November 2016.


Background and formation[edit]

The two members of Sleigh Bells—Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss—had previous experience performing and touring in a musical ensemble.[1] From age 17 to 22, Miller was a guitarist in the hardcore punk band Poison the Well. He played on the band's first three albums, but left in 2004, citing creative differences with the other band members as a key factor for his departure.[2] Krauss meanwhile has a background in theater and television. As a child she appeared in a Nickelodeon Magazine commercial, and starred in a community production of the musical Annie.[3] From age 12 to 16, Krauss performed in the teen pop group RubyBlue.[1] After RubyBlue broke up, Krauss went to college (majoring in political science), taught Spanish at an elementary school in The Bronx, and performed at weddings on the side for fun.[2]

In March 2008, Miller moved to New York City expressly to find a female vocalist for some song demos he was working on. "I'm just obsessed with female vocalists. I don't want to say I was really determined, but I was really determined" said Miller.[1] He began working at a Brazilian bistro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and in July, Krauss and her mother dined at the restaurant. Miller expressed his interest in finding a female vocalist for his new project and Krauss was volunteered by her mother. The two met in a park, where she listened to Miller's demos.[2] In a 2012 interview, Krauss recalled 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 pair up with Miller instead.[1] The band name Sleigh Bells comes from the phrase Miller used to delineate CD-Rs with demos he had worked on.[4]

2009: Sleigh Bells EP[edit]

From the beginning, Miller and Krauss set high expectations for themselves, with the goal to make a living off of their music.[5] Krauss noted that when the two began recording together for the first time, Miller wanted to be in control. "It was like a really interesting session gig for me...I always knew it was Derek's thing — he was producing and writing the songs. He had very specific ideas about what the vocals should be like."[2]

The duo performed at the CMJ Music Marathon in October 2009.[6] They signed to M.I.A.'s N.E.E.T. Recordings and Mom + Pop Music in March 2010.[7] 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, ABC News's Amplified, and other sources. Stereogum named them a Band to Watch on October 22, 2009.[8] The Guardian named them Band of the Day in December 2009.[9] Their song "Crown on the Ground" was named the 57th best track of 2009 by Pitchfork.[10] Miller produced 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. All but one of the tracks from Sleigh Bells EP have been subsequently included on studio albums. Songs "Rill Rill", "Crown on the Ground", "Beach Girls" (later renamed "Kids"), "Infinity Guitars", and "A/B Machines" were released on 2010s Treats. The final track on the extended play, "2HELLWU", was eventually reworked into the Bitter Rivals track "To Hell with You", released in October 2013.

2010–2011: Treats[edit]

The group released "Tell 'Em", the first single from their debut album, Treats, as a free download in April 2010.[11] Treats was released in May 2010 by Mom + Pop Music.[12] They performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2010 and 2011,[13] the Primavera Sound Festival in May 2010,[14] 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."[15]

On December 2, 2011, the band's website began to link to a Vimeo video.[16] 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. For 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.[17]

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."[18] 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".[19]

The album was originally set to be released on February 14, 2012, but was pushed back to February 21.[20] Along with the announcement of the release date and track listing, Sleigh Bells also announced a tour of strictly Floridian venues.[21] This tour preceded the release of the album.

Sleigh Bells made their network television debut on the February 18, 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, performing the songs "Comeback Kid" and "End of the Line".[22] On August 16, 2012, the duo announced a US tour, which kicked off at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on August 28 and concluded at First Avenue in Minneapolis on November 2, including dates with Swedish hardcore punk band Refused and American DJ AraabMuzik.[23]

2013–2014: 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.[24][25] Before the end of 2012, the album was said to feature more writing from Krauss and with a cleaner sound.[26] The 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.[27][28] 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."[29] 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 and November 2013 in support of Bitter Rivals with Doldrums and Danny Brown as support.[30]

2015–present: Jessica Rabbit and Kid Kruschev[edit]

On December 7, 2015, Sleigh Bells premiered a new song titled "Champions of Unrestricted Beauty", while announcing they were finishing up their fourth studio album.[31] The duo released the single "Rule Number One" on June 7, 2016,[32] followed by "Hyper Dark" on July 19.[33] On August 24, Sleigh Bells announced both the release date and track listing of their upcoming fourth studio album, Jessica Rabbit.[34] The album was released on November 11, 2016, marking the first release on the duo's own label, Torn Clean, in partnership with Sinderlyn.[35]

It was announced on October 10, 2017, that the duo would release a mini-album titled Kid Kruschev on November 10, 2017. On the same day, the lead single "And Saints" was released.[36] "Rainmaker" was released as the second single on October 24.[37]

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.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44] The band's music also has been described as noise rock,[42] indie rock,[44] dance-punk,[45] electropunk,[46] digital hardcore,[47] experimental pop,[38] alternative rock,[48] and industrial rock.[49] 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".[50][51][52]

Use in other media[edit]

Sleigh Bells' song "Rill Rill" was featured on the fourth episode of the fourth season of The CW's teen drama series Gossip Girl, titled "Touch of Eva", which aired on October 4, 2010.[53] In 2011, "Kids" was used in a promo for MTV's North American adaption of the British television series Skins, in the trailer for the action-thriller film Abduction, and in a UK advertisement for Kopparberg Cider.[54][55][56] The song "Riot Rhythm" was used on the October 23, 2011 episode of The Good Wife, titled "Marthas and Caitlins".[57] "Infinity Guitars" was featured in Windows Phone's "What If" commercial in 2011.[58] The following year, "Infinity Guitars" was used on the television shows Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and Girls,[59][60] as well as in the opening credits for the 2012 comedy film Bachelorette.[61] "Riot Rhythm" appears in the video games Saints Row: The Third (2011) and Lollipop Chainsaw (2012),[62][63] and was used in a commercial for Nokia Lumia 610 in 2012.[64] The track "Comeback Kid" was featured on the 16th episode of The CW's The Secret Circle, broadcast March 15, 2012.[65]

On April 23, 2012, "End of the Line" was used on the 21st episode of the fifth season of Gossip Girl, titled "Despicable B".[66] Sleigh Bells appeared in the 2012 action-thriller film Premium Rush, where they performed the song "Crown on the Ground" live.[67] The band and crew were featured in the Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode Austin, broadcast on September 3, 2012 .[68][69] "Kids" is featured in the trailer for Michael Bay's 2013 action-comedy film Pain & Gain.[70] "Crown on the Ground" was used in both the trailer and the title sequence for Sofia Coppola's 2013 crime film The Bling Ring,[71] and in a 2013 commercial for Dr Pepper featuring boxer Mikaela Mayer.[72] The trailer for the 2013 film Kick-Ass 2 uses the songs "Infinity Guitars" and "Crush".[73] In September 2013, "Rill Rill" soundtracked the first commercial for Apple's iPhone 5C.[74] The song and video for "Bitter Rivals" are featured in the 2015 video game Guitar Hero Live.[75] "Demons" was used in the season one finale of the Netflix original series Jessica Jones, which debuted on November 20, 2015.[76] In 2016, the song "Riot Rhythm" was featured on the television series New Girl, in the second episode of the sixth season. In 2017, "24" appeared in the 10th episode of the first season of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why, which premiered on March 31.[77]


  • Alexis Krauss – vocals (2008–present)
  • Derek E. Miller – guitar, production, lyrics[78] (2008–present)

Touring members


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
Treats 39 81 152
Reign of Terror
  • Released: February 21, 2012
  • Label: Mom + Pop
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
12 33 35 64 48
Bitter Rivals
  • Released: October 4, 2013
  • Label: Mom + Pop
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
49 158
Jessica Rabbit
  • Released: November 11, 2016
  • Label: Torn Clean
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Sleigh Bells
  • Released: December 6, 2009
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download
Kid Kruschev
  • Released: November 10, 2017
  • Label: Torn Clean
  • Format: Digital download, LP


Title Year Album
"Tell 'Em" 2010 Treats
"Infinity Guitars"
"Riot Rhythm" 2011
"Comeback Kid" 2012 Reign of Terror
"Bitter Rivals" 2013 Bitter Rivals
"That Did It"[86]
(featuring Tink)
2014 Non-album single
"Rule Number One"[87] 2016 Jessica Rabbit
"Hyper Dark"[88]
"I Can Only Stare"[89]
"And Saints"[36] 2017 Kid Kruschev

Music videos[edit]

Title Year Director(s)
"Infinity Guitars" 2010 Phil Pinto[90]
"Riot Rhythm" Bo Mirosseni[91]
"Rill Rill" 2011 Jon Watts[92]
"Comeback Kid" 2012 Derek Miller and Gregory Kohn[93][94][95]
"End of the Line"
"Bitter Rivals" 2013 Sleigh Bells[30]
"That Did It"
(featuring Tink)
2014 Grant Singer[96]
"It's Just Us Now" 2016 Derek Miller[97]
"I Can Only Stare" Alex Ross Perry and Derek Miller[98]
"And Saints" 2017 Mimi Cave and Derek Miller[99]
"Favorite Transgressions" 2018 Derek Miller[100]


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External links[edit]