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Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (Cover Artwork)

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend: Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend (2008)
XL Recordings

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JesseJesse
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Before anyone can say the words "blog" or "indie buzz," I must say this: These dudes, above all, share the same love for Paul Simon's Graceland that I do. In the same way that Graceland was a perfect marriage of African music and relevant pop music for the decade, Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut.
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Before anyone can say the words "blog" or "indie buzz," I must say this: These dudes, above all, share the same love for Paul Simon's Graceland that I do. In the same way that Graceland was a perfect marriage of African music and relevant pop music for the decade, Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut is the perfect marriage of hipster-friendly New York indie rock with African music. And the product is something I cannot describe as anything but delightful.

Opener "Mansard Roof" and its sister single "A-Punk" are just upbeat enough with orchestral instrumentation permeating the semi lo-fi production values and positive vibes chiming out form the indie rock chords. But it's on "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" that the rhythms, percussion, and guitar melodies start to sound familiar to that one special album of my youth. But while the group openly embraces their African influences, they also press forward with the chamber music-inspired "M79," letting their strings evoke the fine wood paneling of university hallways, striped yellow J.Crew ties, and summers at Cape Cod.

The mish-mash of styles leads the band to describe their music as "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," "Upper West Side Soweto," "Campus" and "Oxford Comma Riddim," invoking many of the names of the songs that appear on this album to describe their supposed genre. But again, I must stress that the music is nothing more than delightful.

The songs are well-written, giving equal weight to all the instruments played and leaving enough room for the singer to let his voice sail unwavering through the well-pitched melodies. And as the album soldiers through the single-ready "Campus," "Bryn" brings more of the African influences through again. And much like Paul Simon's 1986 opus, the production values are just as relevant to the music and time period as the music itself. Simon took a chance and embraced modern digital recordings, playing with drum machines, samples, and synthesizers to find the sound he had been looking for. Vampire Weekend instead vie for a minimalistic approach to each instrument. The end product sounds like it could be an unmiked performance playing in the room with you, a sobering and grounding quality that is endearing for a group that's essentially trying to sway your previously formed opinions on world music.

"Walcott" rings a bit like the post-rock of New York neighbors the Walkmen, but the highlight of the album is the mid-tempo lullaby, "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance." Dabbling with some reggae-inspired upstrokes on the keys and arpeggios on the harpsichord before swelling into some well-seasoned and disciplined cello playing, the track feels ready to be soundtracked to your favorite awkward love scene in that new rom-com indie movie all your friends are raving about.

In short, fuck the buzz. This isn't the next Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Just listen to the songs, and let them develop into your own daydream of New England and African shores.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
lesterfangs (October 31, 2008)

rules, nuff said

epoch (August 15, 2008)

yeah, i don't know. sounds like background music for an apple or GAP commercial. 3 stars.

iandisurvive (July 9, 2008)

*substance

iandisurvive (July 9, 2008)

oh great, a bunch of Columbia grads just bought their first vinyl of Remain In Light and think theyre starting a musical revolution. Trendy, no subsstance. there is nothing "indie" about this.

As for a band copping Graceland faithfully and accurately? Try Island's Return To the Sea.

munker (July 4, 2008)

Trendy bullshit. No style, no substance. NOT PUNK.

screamboat (March 18, 2008)

is there a negative star rating? I will give them originality, but the only thing there music makes me want to do, is punch every hipster I see. I am sorry but I miss punk music...

rocktopus (February 1, 2008)

Been meaning to check these guys out. Positive review. The video for a-punk is rad. Score is for that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XC2mqcMMGQ

Ianw (February 1, 2008)

i love it!

Ianw (February 1, 2008)

yo who don't like rich white kids playing poor black music

R3vengeTherapy (January 31, 2008)

I was really unsure as to whether I'd be into this or not, after hearing one of their songs on the indie rock channel on Sirius I wasn't thinking it was going to grab me. I stand corrected. The first record that has surprised me this year.

greg0rb (January 31, 2008)

Dude Jesse, I think you can lay off Clap Your Hands now. They aren't the buzz anymore so it's ok to like em. Well I do anyway and when I played ya that awesome first track of their last album that's all distorted I remember ya liking it...

Anyways, good review and I ordered the album so I'm looking forward to it.
-Greg

Enchanted_Steel (January 30, 2008)

I really wasn't sure what to think about this when I first heard "A-Punk" but I listened to the whole thing today and was pretty impressed by it.

scarysmurf (January 30, 2008)

my sister was watching the morning videos on MTV.
and this was on it. and i couldnt help but sit and watch. the video was kinda cool. i was just kinda confused.

i dont like it much though.

earth23 (January 30, 2008)

Paul Simon's graceland was the first tape I ever purchased. I still listen to it every now and then, it rocks.

Branden (January 30, 2008)

after a trip to their myspace, wow. too hipsterish for me.

DarrenMcLeod (January 30, 2008)

The tracks I listened to on their site sounded great. I went to go download this on eMusic but it's not up there. I emailed XL to find out if they are going to put it up there (they have a few older recordings on eMusic...), so hopefully they'll respond in the positive.

piratasmuertas (January 30, 2008)

Fantastic recrd.

the_other_scott (January 30, 2008)

Mansard Roof is great until about 30 seconds in when the drumming from another song starts and completely ruins it. listen and you'll see what i mean. these guys are gonna fade fast.

nocigar (January 30, 2008)

Uhh..well I see you like Clap Your Hands. I like these guys a lot better than Clap Your Hands, but that is just my opinion. You should at least check out their music out, I'm sure they have some on purevolume or myspace.

Archangel (January 29, 2008)

My friend has been pushing this band on me for months. Should I give in and listen? Should I go see them in March? YOU DECIDE.

nocigar (January 29, 2008)

this album is great.

very fun to listen to, these guys rock.

gabbagabbamike (January 29, 2008)

this record is really cool. kind of weird going into it with mtv jocking them somehow, but im into it. this record sounds like bedouin soundclash demos, in a good way

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