Sun 15th May, 2011 in Features
Brooklyn Noise pop outfit Crystal Stilts have continued to expand their skills as songwriters and cemented their status as one of the more interesting bands from New York of late. Their debut Alight of Night was released in 2008 to largely positive reviews – ending the year on many best of lists. It helped garner them a reputation as a no nonsense-all-about-the-music band, largely immune to the trivialities of the industry. Their follow up effort, In Love with Oblivion was released last month, again to critical acclaim. They’re currently touring the album on a U.S tour, with their profile and fan base continuing to grow.
Guitarist JB Townsend and singer Brad Hargett originally formed the band in Florida in 2003, releasing a single and EP together. Eventually relocating to New York, it was here that Hargett met future bassist Andy Adler at the record store the pair worked at. “We bonded over The Velvet Underground initially,” explains Adler. The 60s are obviously a major influence for them, with a strong jangle pop element to their sound. They’ve also been compared to some of the highly influential Dunedin Sound bands, a comparison Adler welcomes “we like a lot of the bands who released stuff on Flying Nun (records) – bands like The Chills particularly.”
The second album is often considered to be substantially harder than the debut, with many bands falling victim to the so called ‘sophomore slump.’ Crystal Stilts have managed to avoid this, “Ultimately we didn’t feel too burdened by external expectation, you make what you make, what people write about it is their own thing, you don’t have control over that, ” says Adler, adding “the process was different from Alight of Night, which JB [Townsend] and Brad [Hargett] mostly wrote. Also, a lot of the material was stuff we’d written a few years ago.”
It differs from Alight of Night in its cleaner production values, as well as having an increased psych element to it. So how does Adler see it? “We’re really happy with In Love with Oblivion, we did a lot of overdubs and wanted a rhythmic punch to it. We also wanted lots of space echo, delays and reverb on it… I think it represents more the Crystal Stilts sound, it adapts what we’ve done in the past, but hopefully remains true to it.”
Adler readily admits that some may find them “boring and laconic” live, which is of little surprise – Crystal Stilts are obviously not a band hugely phased by what others think. “Hopefully we’re intense in sound. We’re far more concerned with the music than a grandiose stage aspect.” They’ve yet to grace Australian audiences, leading to the obvious question, “We’re looking forward to getting there eventually, we plan to come next summer. JB is pretty big on surfing too, so he’s pretty keen,” laughs Adler.