Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Variety of

Sleigh Bells,
T r e a t s
M u s i c

One of my favorite
records of the year
is also one of the
most unlikely. Der-
ek Miller's big-ass
Billy Squier beats
meet Alexis Kraus-
s's kittenish 4AD vocals to form a unique mélange of indie pop, dance music, and stadium rock.

The pounding on Treats is so loud I feared it might give me a
headache, but the songs are too cleverly constructed for that. The
way the Brooklyn duo strikes a balance between the hard and the
soft keeps me returning for more, rather than wearing me down.

Further, they aren't exactly a
one-trick pony. Miller knows
how to dial things down, just
as Krauss can shout as ex-
pertly as she can coo (on "Ri-
ot Rhythm," the cheerleaders
from the cover appear to join
in). On a certain social media site, I wrote that I "keep expect-
ing some heavy metal guy to start wailing. A fun fake-out of an al-
bum." Fortunately, that never happens, though rivet-heads might
find themselves inexorably drawn to the same sort of hipster in-
die rock they normally disdain (and vice versa). Treats could
not rock harder than it does without turning into, well, rock.

They must surely be the first outfit to extract the most distinctive
elements of Motörhead and the Cocteau Twins only to recombine
them into something genuinely cohesive. What could've been an
awkward high-concept stunt registers more as a minor miracle.

Time will tell if future efforts will seem quite so inspired, but for
now they've succeeded where numerous others have failed, from
the jungle-rock of Toto Coelo ("I Eat Cannibals") to the junk-funk
of Whale ("Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe"). One-hit wonders both,
while Miller and Krauss can lay claim to 11 winning tracks.

Mobile Wash Unit, Tent, Astraea Records [7/13/10]

With appealing melodies and versatile instrumentation,
New York's Mobile Wash Unit create sparkling pop in
a variety of permutations: sometimes power-pop ("Septem-
ber Was Winter"), sometimes dance-pop ("Second Glance").

At first, they come on like a less late-night jazz-oriented
Clientele (singer Andy Snyder recalls the always under-
stated Alastair Maclean), but Tent heads off into more
of a Cut Copy direction as these 13 numbers unfurl.

Click here for "Second Glance."

Woven Bones, In and Out and Back Again, Hozac Records

Loud, bratty, and buried beneath layers of reverb, Austin's Wo-
ven Bones
return to the dimly lit garages of the 1960s. On In
and Out and Back Again
, they don't recreate the sounds of a
bygone era so much as they bring back the techniques (rudimen-
tal) and the attitude (primal). That doesn't mean they're making
music for primitive people, but rather for those weary of gloss.

In other words, they're fol-
lowing a path blazed by the
Cramps, the Honeymoon Kil-
, and the Gories before
them, but without the R&B
and B-movie flourishes (and
since they hail from Texas,
a nod to Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators on-
ly seems appropriate). In that sense, the trio may also appeal to
fans of fellow travelers like Thee Oh Sees and Times New Viking.

What they do may seem simple, but it takes skill to pull it off. Like
a minimalist filmmaker who edits out anything unessential while
still getting their story across, Andrew Burr, Matthew Nichols,
Colin Ryan, and Chef Pittman stick to the basics, because it's
all they need. In and Out and Back Again is a handy
antidote to the over-polished commercial sphere.

Click here for "I've Gotta Get," A-side to their up-
coming single on Hardly Art (releases on 8/10).

Endnote: For more information about Sleigh Bells,
please click here; for
Mobile Wash Unit, here. Wo-
ven Bones
play Seattle's Wildrose with Idle Times on
8/14. I
mages from Rickshaw (photo credit: Will Deitz,
), BBC - Newsbeat, and Weekly Tape Deck.

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