Stemming back three years, so much has happened and it is hard to imagine going back. 2007 was also the year, Ed Banger Records announced that Uffie’s debut album would be released ‘mid-to-late 2007’, then ‘sometime in 2008’. Her touring schedule and personal life delayed the release of her debut album but she insisted the album was ‘worth the wait’.
After three years, Uffie apparently could not find the time to re-record “Pop the Glock”, which is the opening track off of Sex, Dreams, and Denim Jeans as well as the second track in the Ed Rec Vol. 1 compilation back in 2006. And for an album that was said to be very different with a much more mature sound, I’m not sure this song accomplished any of that by being on this album. I’m all for “Pop the Glock”, it was the first song I heard from Uffie and I loved it. In fact I still dig it but after three years she decides that this song should be the opening track of her debut album. Not sure how she came up with that decision other than fact that the track will probably sell the album.
The first half of this album was actually much disappointing especially considering that four of the seven tracks were already released prior to this album. “Art of Uff” seemed like a classic Uffie song that you could have seen in one of her earlier EPs except that it’s sound is a lot more mature and is one of the few highlights of the first half of the album. Pharrell Williams drops by for the next song “ADD SUV” which was also the second and lead single of Sex, Dreams, and Denim Jeans. This track gave off a top-radio-hit feel and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear this song in public.
Unfortunately, Uffie over does it with the first single to this album, “MC’s Can Kiss”. I would say that this was the least appealing song on this album. It almost offered nothing new from Uffie and it certainly doesn’t fit on this album. It’s funny for me, because I’ve listened to everything Uffie has released and I can easily distinguish the sound in her old tracks between the sound in her new ones. Although, “Difficult” opens up with the familiar Uffie vocals but then goes on to become the ‘mature sound’ that I’ve actually noticed in this album. It provided a nice prequel to “First Love”, which came off of her most recent EP.
It was also said that this album was to have a lot more singing than the previous EPs Uffie has released. I definitely noticed this, most notably in the second half of this album. “Sex, Dreams, and Denim Jeans”, the album counterpart, offers exactly what Uffie has said this album was slated to be. With samples of “Rock & Roll” by The Velvet Underground, it sets the appropriate mood for this album. This mood seems to continue until the end of the album. “Illusion of Love”, featuring Mattie Safer, might be the most complete sounding song offered on the album. There are no traces of Uffie’s past anywhere in this song but I think anyone can accept this song as an overall good track.
Not to mention the really cool remake of “Hong Kong Garden”, Uffie has really matured as a song writer with this album but I’m still not sure that this album was, as she said, ‘worth the wait’. Certain songs were worth waiting for but I would have waited a half a year more if that meant this album would have been better.
In a decade where female artists such as Lady Gaga, M.I.A., and Katy Perry have dominated the mainstream music scene, it seems as though Uffie has tried to take a stab at it but, after listening to this album, I’m not so sure that she’ll even take the attention away from those artists, at least not for too long. I’m rooting for Uffie though and I’m also sure this album will grow on me as well as all the others who had a bad first impression.
01. Pop The Glock
02. Art Of Uff
03. ADD SUV (Ft. Pharrell Williams)
04. Give It Away
05. MCs Can Kiss
07. First Love
08. Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans
09. Our Song
10. Illusion Of Love (Ft. Mattie Safer)
12. Brand New Car
13. Hong Kong Garden
Imagine the sexiest elementary school teacher, you’ve ever had, go in to a diner with her mother. The man waiting their table was once a former guitarist for a hardcore band. He brings up the topic of his vacant vocalist spot in his upcoming musical project. The mother then volunteers her daughter and the two decide to follow up on the music project only to eventually call themselves Sleigh Bells.
While Alexis Krauss was never a teacher(See bottom), Derek Miller was involved in the early success of the band, Poison the Well, as a guitarist and that is in fact how they met. I added the detail of the teacher because that’s what her vocals and role in Sleigh Bells reminds me of.
The year of 2010 has had a pretty solid kickoff of fresh new music, made widely with the releases of Rebirth, Teen Dream, Plastic Beach, Have One on Me, Volume Two, Congratulations, Crystal Castles II and many others. Treats was debuted through iTunes on May 11th, 2010 and even though the 256 AAC format is quite unattractive, this album should definitely be noted down for its mid-to-late June physical release. The release of this album will most definitely hit the top tens at the end of the year and rightly so. An album like this is exactly what I needed.
Sleigh Bells have a sound that no one can anticipate. Its some of the loudest music I have listened to and while we all are aware of the ear drum massacre those earbuds cause around the time you are 50, it is worth risking when it comes to Sleigh Bells.The duo’s sound has lead to a new genre title, heralded by a user at What.CD; Dream Crunk. And while this might be the most ridiculous genre that’s been thrown out there, it does a pretty good job at covering what the duo has in store— fresh crunk beats along with power riffs all overlayed with dream pop vocals.
Opening up with the single released on N.E.E.T.’s website for free, Tell ‘Em, you are quickly engaged with the asphyxiating beats this duo has to offer and it doesn’t stop there. Their M.I.A. influence is made pretty obvious in the next track, “Kids”, which seems to be a renovated version of “Beach Girls” from their earlier demos that were leaked to the web. It’s certainly sounds a lot more wholly than the one from the demo.
The abrupt guitar makes its return in “Riot Rhythm” and “Infinity Guitars”. As soon as I heard Alexis Krauss lay her vocals over the polarizing guitar riff in “Infinity Guitars”, I made the connection that she sounds much like Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in this song. It seemed much appropriate as well; Alexis seems to give off a Karen O punk, I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit attitude and I soon started making the same connection in the rest of the songs.
The album seems to take an appropriate turn with the next trio of songs. “Run the Heart” seems to retain a bit of the same exhausting beats shown in previous songs but the overall tempo and mood has slowed down. “Rachel” goes even further with vocals that much resemble the song “2HELLWU” from the earlier demo. The song tackles on a sound made much popular by Portishead and Bjork. The next track, “Rill Rill”, has caused some debate over its title being that a song titled “Ring Ring” off the demo sounds almost exactly the same. Either way this is one of the best tracks on the entire album and it really expands their sound. Future material can be much more extensive because of this song. The song completes the much refreshing trio of songs and even adds to it with great lyrics.
“We are the river flow/And you can never know/You’re just a weatherman/We make the wind blow”
And just like that, it’s time to get pumped up again with another speaker assault of a track titled “Crown on the Ground”. One of the first songs composed by Sleigh Bells, it’s easily the most criticized as sounding incomplete with its repetitive percussion. I don’t necessarily agree with its location on the album but I think it would be one of the funnest songs to hear live.
Up until this track, I had no idea where the Crystal Castles connections were stemming from. “Straight A’s” is a quick compressed track that doesn’t seem necessary and adds to a poor finish. Although the last song, “Treats”, makes up for it with the sweetness of Alexis’ voice contrasting with the abrupt music Derek lays over. Just like its unexpected beginning, its end comes unexpected as well and the only thing left to do is play the entire album again.
Now, I can’t help but get the feeling that the full experience of Sleigh Bells can’t be compressed into audio. Everyone knows that it’s the live performance that can really make an artist stand out and that’s what it is for Sleigh Bells. How else do you think they got so hyped up without a debut album even out? I hope I get the opportunity to see them live and with their South Florida roots I think I will. All that aside, I still stand by my experience of Treats and I will surely be drawn back to this album for another listen time and time again.
01. Tell ‘Em
03. Riot Rhythm
04. Infinity Guitars
05. Run the Heart
07. Rill Rill
08. Crown On the Ground
09. Straight As
10. A/B Machines
Gif and photo by Jaime Martinez
Oh and now the AWD title, that is given, is an acronym; Astounding Without Disbelief
Edit: Apparently, Alexis Krauss was an actual elementary school teacher for two years and she might still be teaching if she hadn’t met Derek. It’s awesome how things work out.
I’ve found that bands with the most general names such as Girls, Real Estate, and Woods have always had some of the most intriguing music. Googling any of these bands is not the best way to approach their work. Or at least I think it’s gotten better over time.
I hadn’t listened to any of Woods’ previous works prior to At Echo Lake but their previous album, Songs of Shame, received favorable reviews which made it worth checking out. What I heard was a blend of lofi folk rock over ominous vocals guided by resolute melodies. I was looking forward to finish listening to At Echo Lake.
The album opens up with “Blood Dries Darker”, a track that offers some of the best foot-tapping guitar riffs on the entire album. Jeremy Earl’s voice really does have a strange pitch to it. Not to say it takes away from the song but it actually accompanies this song, as well as the rest of the album, so well that it’s almost expected. The album doesn’t lose its charm there. Songs such as “Pick Up”, “Suffering Season”, and “Time Fading Lines” only add to it.
“From the Horn” provides a most spectacular transition. The song feels almost as a panorama of time and when you reach the end there is a disappointment that transitions very well into “Death Rattles”. This dusky gem of a song tells a story about a painter who seems to be hanging onto a thread of life.
“The painter survives just to be by your side/he would be there all night/he would be there alright.”
The overtones of lost time and attempting to move on lingers much more as the album comes to a close. It also seems their sound has become a bit more experimental. “Deep” has a variety of percussion instruments along with a high pitched stringed instrument. “Til the Sun Rips” is a good closing track for this album as it underlines looking back at whats happened and using that experience to move on, but surely not from this album as it has some gems that draw you back for another listen.
01. Blood Dries Darker
02. Pick Up
03. Suffering Season
04. Time Fading Lines
05. From the Horn
06. Death Rattles
07. Mornin Time
08. I Was Gone
09. Get Back
11. Til the Sun Rips