Sleigh Bells were a very polarizing band last year. Their album made many year end best of lists, but they were also hated by many music fans as well. I fell somewhere in the middle. They reminded me of The Go! Team, but without their quirky aspects. Nevertheless, I found their songs to be a kind of industrial-lite, maybe a baby Ministry or something. And that was interesting.
So I was intrigued by their live set which I downloaded from NPR’s All Songs Considered. Their set is plagued by technical malfunctions. And although they are the headliners (I guess, I don’t really know how SXSW works) their set barely ekes out to 25 minutes. But they are very apologetic and seem to be nice enough folks.
They manage to play 6 songs (2 songs are beset with disaster–they restart “A/B Machines” but give up on the second to last song altogether and play a different one). Their onstage dynamic was interesting (at first I thought they weren’t going to talk to the crowd at all, but once the machines broke, they were quite amiable). I gather the whole band was Derek Miller playing guitar and all the samples and Alexis Krauss singing (she’s really out of breath when the song malfunctions, so she must be quite an energetic performer). Their set impressed me enough to want to check out their CD for real (I only listened to one song when it made all those lists).
This is an interesting set, especially if you like to hear a band cope with technical difficulties.
[READ: March 28, 2011] “Fictional Houses”
This third piece in The Walrus’ 2005 Summer Reading issue is more of a photo essay than anything. But the premise behind it is really great (and it is included in the Fiction section of the magazine).
The essay explains that in neighborhoods across Canada, hydro companies created electrical substations to handle power for those communities. But rather than allow huge electrical monstrosities to reside in these communities, they corporations built full houses around them. These houses were not simple facades but actual houses with electricity and which really gave the appearance of families living there (even though no one ever would). That is an amazingly thoughtful thing for a huge corporation to do.
Now, since these stations are no longer needed, the houses are being sold off. Collyer made a point of travelling around to as many as were still extant to take pictures of them. The pictures themselves don’t speak much because they are simply normal houses that blend in with the community. But it’s amazing seeing the seven houses and seeing how very different they are. The two in Toronto are quite lovely two-story houses. Indeed the one on Spadina Road, with the trees grown in, is quite lovely (see below). The houses in Scarborough are smaller affairs but are not too shabby either. (more…)