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Crystal Stilts
nyc's newest gem
by: Lauren Piper - June 2, 2009

Lo-fi recordings and monotone vocals. Joy Division. At this point, it's more formula than familiarity. With their debut full-length 'Alight of Night' in tow, Crystal Stilts have emerged to win over your cynical little heart.

Guitarist JB Townsend and vocalist Brad Hargett met in Florida in 2003 and sat on their vampire lullabies for years until their move to New York allowed the erstwhile Sunshine-staters to put together the right line-up to execute their vision. What began as jam sessions once a week became three singles, as Townsend recalls: 'A friend of ours would peak his head in, he started playing guitar and making noises with us and offered to record us.' These recordings would later be re-vamped for their recently released full-length. Last year, the band acquired a host of new members, including a bubbly drummer Miss Frankie Rose, Andy Adler on bass and part-time organ player Kyle Forrester (Ladybug Transistor). Having played a lot of shows both in town and out, including gigs with Chairlift and Cause co-Motion, the current lineup is starting to make waves with their jangly, dark, surf-rock influenced tunes.

The band is also reclusive, stealing away to write and re-work songs they have watched grow over time, and saving little time to converse with journalists. Regarding their live show, Frankie Rose admits over the phone: 'We are notorious for just standing there and being incredibly aloof.' It's almost endearing how the band's sole focus seems to be simply crafting beautiful music. 'I don't think it's for lack of not wanting to be there, I think it's being nervous. We aren't going to bounce around on stage, if people like the songs then they'll keep coming, and that's just our philosophy on the live show,' adds Miss Rose.

Despite the seeming disinterest that comes with being engulfed in their music, Crystal Stilts does get excited and is pumped for what is next. Townsend rambled off a list of what comes next: 'We are excited about going on a west coast tour with Cause Co-motion, we are excited for the LP to come out on a label we really like and to go to Europe hopefully in the next year. We're excited to start to record our next LP, get that going.' There is lots of excitement in their future, and a plan for change, which is always good for a growing band.

Townsend mentions for the upcoming LP, 'The songs are a little more poppy, in terms of Sixties pop, a little bit less Eighties, maybe a little bit of both.' Though the direction of the next album is still up in the air, it's a promising sign that Crystal Stilts do not plan on riding the wave of trying to record exactly what they did before. As Townsend states, 'I like the idea of not repeating a certain idea this album has clear references.'

While Crystal Stilts did not provide me with the most titillating interview, it felt as though they didn't have to. The album gives way to their true thoughts and feelings on music and their influences. Though the echo of Ian Curtis' vocals is present in their sound, so are chugging, 60's pop drums, and distorted guitar, as well surf elements that dance their way in and out of the record. There is a warm and calming quality that gives one the idea that this music is who they are, and really, they don't need to say a thing.

In the end, you tumble willingly into their trap, soon falling in love with the staggered instrumentals and booming vocals that you were so skeptical about in the first place. And when one sees the time Crystal Stilts spends perfecting their sound, it is completely worth the effort of getting to know them.


"It's almost endearing how the band's sole focus seems to be simply crafting beautiful music"

Crystal Stilts
"Alight of Night"

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what it is

Joy Division reincarnate? See for yourself. RIYL: Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Grizzly Bear