Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Indie Rawk Darlings Scheduled to Face Off In Court This Week

A federal court Wednesday will consider the fate of a bitter fight between Portland hippy-dips Yacht (top left) and rough-and-tumble Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells (bottom left), who claim they are “five times more rawk than Yacht”. Yacht, frequently seen posting naked against dreamy nature-like settings, isn't contesting the accuracy of Sleigh Bells’ claim, but says the argument is misleading. Yacht, in its legal response, says Sleigh Bells is suing because "we frequently refer to lightness and darkness as opposing forces of good and evil in our songs, and that paints us as New Age wimps." Sleigh Bells wants the court, which will hear arguments today, to force the music-consuming public to reevaluate Yacht’s standing in the indie rawk sweepstakes of 2009.
Sleigh Bells are asking the court to consider such endeavors as Yacht's current “Catalogue of Influences” poster as well as the title of their 2007 EP, “I Believe In You. Your Magic is Real”. “Give me a fucking break,” says Tony Melone, legal representative for Sleigh Bells. "Even Doug Henning wouldn’t have come up with a CD title that stupid, and he believed in vedic flying!”

Yacht spokesman Mark Siegel responds: “We think our music is simple, straightforward and honest," he says. “We think we're doing a great job. So what if some of that is performed while advocating awareness of extraterrestrial intelligence?"

The U.S. District Court in Atlanta will decide the question of when a band segues from merely being "simple" to becoming outright dopey. Sleigh Bells’ main beef is with the vague areas of Yacht’s lyrics and image, which denote a communion with nature and spirits.

Sleigh Bells’ image is awash in 80’s smarm and enough distortion to make your ears bleed; Yacht, in contrast, has almost no grit of which to speak. Sleigh Bells, in its lawsuit, says consumers may think Yacht’s association with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy means Sleigh Bells offer no downtown boho cred of their own.

"If our songs are judged to be truthful but not misleading, even though they're damaging to Sleigh Bells’ business, well, that's just competition," says Tom Zellerbach, a friend of the band. But Yacht has a hurdle, too. Their website lists a mission statement and urges listeners to find importance in triangles. The court "could question whether that manifesto is beyond ass-backwards," he says.

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